The outbreak of Coronavirus in China has created an equipment shortage as blanked sailings, quarantines, labor shortages see equipment pile up in ports with no ships to board. Regardless of how fast items are coming off the assembly line, without containers to load them in and truckers to drive them to the port, they can’t get to their destination without delays. Though cargo is being rerouted as best it can among available ports remaining open, we’re seeing a shortage of reefer containers popping up as more cargo reaches the port and waits for a ship to finally return to pick up the containers. Even the rerouting can’t compensate as the same containers are moving with many still stalled waiting for pick up at congested ports in China.
While ports on the US East Coast have yet to feel the pinch of fewer containers arriving from China, the Midwest farmers growing soy beans are seeing the lack beginning. While the West Coast, and Central Valley growers especially, are worried that there may not be enough reefer containers on hand to manage their export needs. With more than 80 blanked sailings in the last three weeks, exports from China are at a painful low, seeing few commodities leave and containers piling up. As such, reefer containers, which need to be plugged in at the port, are refused because there are no charging stations left for them in the yard.
Carriers have started to notify shippers of the shortage with few details about when relief can be expected. For now, rerouting cargo and equipment work-arounds are keeping the schedule manageable, but until shipments resume in full, it’s going to be best to book equipment as early as possible to avoid delays and be aware of any issues that could arise. If you’re concerned about delays or you need specialized equipment for your cargo, don’t hesitate to reach out to your Nelson International representative for support. We’re here to offer sophisticated solutions to all of your cargo and equipment needs!