Shipping giant Maersk has given a market update on the current challenging global logistics situation, predicting that the port congestion and supply chain bottlenecks are to continue throughout the remainder of 2021.
Maritime Executive reports that China’s October Golden Week, Christmas and Chinese New Year will bolster strong demand for container shipping for Q4 2021. But port congestion, especially in the US and Europe, and service delays are expected to delay service schedules, the company said.
Maersk said that implementing extra loaders and ad hoc port omissions will help improve schedule reliability.
However, with inventory levels in Europe and the US at the lowest levels on record, even once retail demand drops, cargo volumes will remain strong as inventory levels will need to be rebuilt, the firm added.
Global container demand growth has been projected at six to eight per cent, but while demand growth has outstripped supply growth since the latter half of 2020, Maersk says that the true drivers of high freight rates are congestions in ports and supply chain bottlenecks.
The pandemic has also caused shutdowns in Asia, which has delayed vessels, and warehousing capacity has been reduced due to port and landside congestion, and the return of empty containers to Asia has remained a challenge.
“Maersk has taken many actions to redirect flows back to Asia to ensure we have equipment supply. Despite this, equipment turn-round times continue to increase driven by landside and seaborne delays,” said a Maersk spokesperson.
The shipping firm says it has taken measures to alleviate the capacity and equipment shortages by rationalising its schedules and repositioning empty containers.
“However, In-fleeting of new containers alone is no longer sufficient to meet overall demand, so it remains critically important that import containers are turned around as quickly as possible,” Maersk said.
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