LINER operators and container lessors have rushed to build new boxes, as freight rates rocketed to historical highs in the past two years, which has resulted in an equipment glut, eroding prices of pre-owned containers.
But carriers, such as Evergreen, continue to order more, reports UK's The Loadstar.
Hamburg-based consultancy Container xChange said container over-building was a knee-jerk reaction to logistical bottlenecks, resulting from the Covid-19 pandemic.
CEO Christian Roeloffs said: "The current situation of oversupply of containers is a result of a series of reactionary market disruptions that began soon after the outbreak of the pandemic in early 2020.
"With the rise in demand, congestion at ports increased and container capacity was held up for a long period. This led to panic-ordering of new boxes at record levels.
"With time, as markets reopen and demand softens, the oversupply is a natural outcome of demand-supply forces balancing at new levels."
Consequently second-hand container prices have softened. For example, a pre-owned 40ft container was priced at more than US$4,000 in Rotterdam in August 2021; last month it was $2,741.
Despite caution from consultancy Drewry last week, that there is an excess of six million TEU of capacity in the global fleet, new boxes continue to be ordered. Last year, the global container pool reached 50 million TEU, 13 per cent year-on-year growth and threefold on previous years.
Evergreen recently ordered 11,800 containers from its affiliate, Evergreen Heavy Industrial, for $58.36 million.
The Taiwanese liner operator, with a fleet of 203 ships, of 1.54 million TEU, said it would need more containers as it has 57 newbuildings to be delivered until 2026.
Container xChange said the container glut would cascade down to the already short supply of depot space. And if global supply chain disruptions fade with time, there will be higher box productivity, resulting in fewer boxes required per unit of cargo.
Need a China Shipping Agent to help you consolidate and ship internationally from China?