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Empty boxes in US and China lying in depots despite the shortage issues

Despite the urgent need for containers in China and the US, the average period that empty boxes spend in depots is 61-66 days, a significantly higher average than the global one of 45 days, according to a research project by FraunhoferCML and Container xChange.

Researchers said the high standard deviation of 85 days in North America and 129 days across Asia indicates many cases where containers spend far more days inside depots than the average suggests.

Compared to the Middle East (21 days on average) and Europe (23 days on average), it takes more than 30 additional days to move containers out of the depots and make money with them.

Average and median time of containers (in days) between “empty in depot” and “empty dispatched” | Source: Research Project FraunhoferCML & Container xChange

The container manufacturing industry in Asia is benefitting from the shortage situation with China International Marine Containers, the world’s largest box manufacturer, announcing a boost in its orderbook.

Container xChange, a platform that connects users and suppliers in container logistics, said container availability across China is still at a record low, while US ports are overwhelmed by a surge of shipping containers from Asia, full of products retailers are eager to get on shelves for the holidays.

Due to the fastest increase in demand after months full of blank sailings, container availability for 40HCs is only at 0.05 CAx (Container Availability Index) points compared to 0.63 at the same time last year.

CAx 40HCs for Shanghai | Above 0.5 indicates a surplus and below 0.5 indicates a deficit of containers | Source: Container xChange

Although the US East Coast is usually a surplus location of equipment (last year’s CAx value for 40DC was 0.7), the container availability dropped to 0.43 indicating actually fewer containers than needed.

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