Shipping & Freight Cost Increases, Current Shipping Issues, and Shipping Container Shortage [2022]

Last updated: November 1, 2022

Freight & shipping costs & delays

Extremely elevated logistics costs have been one contributor to inflation during the pandemic.

But over the last few months ocean freight prices have started to come down, as volumes of imported containers to the US fell by more than 8% in September compared to August, and October volumes are expected to be about 10% lower than last year.

Freightos data shows that rates to ship a 40-ft container from Asia to the US West Coast have come down by more than 80% since the end of April, while prices to the East Coast have fallen by almost two-thirds. A big driver in falling logistics costs is a drop in consumer spending, which was responsible for increased sales among many importers over the last two years.

Keep reading for the monthly freight market update for October.

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Ocean freight market update & forecast for 2023

According to Freightos data, freight rates fell 18% to $3,320/FEU in October as demand slows to Europe and on the transpacific, and as easing congestion at US West Coast ports increases available capacity. This is the lowest rate since December of 2020, 68% lower than its level a year ago, but still 170% higher than October 2019.

Falling demand for shipping meant significant rate decreases on all the ex-Asia lanes this month, but port congestion on the US East Coast and at European hubs may be slowing the speed of the rate fall on those lanes.

At the start of the year, more than 150 ships were waiting for a berth somewhere in North America, with three quarters floating off the West Coast. That total has now dipped below 100 and the majority of these vessels are now off the East Coast and the Gulf – with only single digits waiting outside LA/Long Beach. 

  • Despite this congestion, lower demand brought Asia – US East Coast rates down 18% this month to $5,596/FEU and have declined 67% since April, but remain 110% higher than in 2019.
  • By comparison, as congestion has eased and more capacity circulates on the West Coast, Asia – US West Coast prices fell 17% this month to $2,443/FEU, the lowest level since June of 2020, have fallen 84% since April and are 82% higher than in 2019.
  • Falling demand since January on the China – North Europe lane has pushed rates down by 67% since the start of the year. Prices declined more than 30% since September to $4,823/FEU. But persistent congestion has kept rates almost 4.5 times higher than in 2019.
  • Transatlantic rates have decreased by 15% since the end of August, and fell 7% since September to $7,041/FEU. But port congestion and possibly more resilient demand have kept rates even with the start of the year and 3.5 times higher than in 2019. 

Transatlantic prices are typically about on par with Asia – US West Coast rates, but are currently more than $4,000/FEU more expensive than rates from Asia to the East Coast or Europe. 

These are container freight rates for October, 2022 according to the Freightos Baltic Index:

FBX Lane Global Asia – US West Coast Asia – US East Coast Asia – North Europe North Europe – US East Coast
This Week $3,342 $2,494 $5,713 $4,823 $7,041
Last Week -2% 0% 0% -8% 0%
Last Year* -67% -85% -71% -66% -3%
* Compared to the corresponding week in 2021

 

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Freight cost increases 2022 chart

The past couple of years have been volatile for shippers around the world. At the beginning of the pandemic, attempts to hedge against dramatic rate drops via capacity management contributed to an increase in prices when consumer demand shot up in the summer of 2020.

Now two years into the supply chain crisis, rates are beginning to stabilize – although on some lanes prices are still 400% higher than they were pre-pandemic.

For a bird’s eye view of freight costs increases in 2022 and since the beginning of serious supply chain disruptions, check out the chart below based on FBX data.

freight rates september

 


Air freight market update, delays, cost increases, and forecast for 2022

Freightos Air Index data show air cargo rates from China to both Europe and the US are level at a time they were climbing last year, and are also significantly lower than a year ago.

  • China – US rates of $5.50/kg are 48% lower than last year
  • China – N. Europe prices of $5.15/kg are 25% lower than last October

Air cargo peak season typically starts in early November, but flat rates contribute to the skepticism that there will be a peak season surge this year. Falling demand could also combine with increases in capacity from recovering passenger travel to push rates down further.

air cargo prices september


Trucking delays and costs

Climbing oil prices translate directly to higher diesel prices. U.S. diesel prices are up significantly from last year and are likely to go higher. These costs could be passed down to shippers, making international shipping even more expensive.

The conflict is impacting ground transport in Europe, with trucking logjams reported throughout the region.

In the US, warehouse space remains scarce and renewed rail backlogs are becoming a growing problem.

Plus, looming labor disputes may further disrupt ground transport.

All of this can cause fluctuations in transit time for imported and exported goods, as seen in this chart from Freightos.com.

transit time september

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Amazon shipping costs in 2022

With a 60% annual increase in sales by third party sellers on Amazon’s marketplace in 2021, the boom in e-commerce continues in 2022.

Keeping up with door to door pricing for Amazon FBA shipping can be a hassle.

Want to know what the rates are instantly? Check out Freightos.com’s FBAX, the Amazon FBA freight index.

With data from thousands of weekly pricing points from freight forwarders, we’ve developed a weekly index of freight prices including for Less than Container Load (LCL), Full Container Load (FCL), and air cargo, from major export cities in southeast Asia to the most popular Amazon fulfillment centers in the US.

Read up on how Amazon sellers can deal with rapidly-changing consumer demands as well as inventory challenges HERE.


Will shipping prices keep going down?

In the current situation, many importers and exporters are wondering when they can expect freight rates and shipping prices to go level off. The answer? Not yet.

But, despite potential delays and volatile freight shipping costs, there are a few steps importers can take right now:

How to navigate the current freight market:

  • Compare at least a few quotes and modes to make sure you are getting the best cost and most efficient service possible.
  • Buffer your freight budget and transit time for changes. Costs due to unforeseen delays or limited capacity can arise, so be prepared.
  • Explore warehousing options to mitigate the effects of lowered demand and business restrictions in the US.
  • Pay attention to the profitability of your goods and consider if a pivot could be worthwhile. Additionally, remember to factor in freight costs when assessing profitability.

How small or midsize importers can plan for operational success on Freightos.com:

  • Understand that delays and extra charges may arise. Freight forwarders are trying their best to move goods on schedule without additional fees, but in this unstable period, delays and additional charges can occur out of forwarders’ control.
  • Consider which shipping mode is best for you right now. As during non-pandemic times, ocean freight is typically far cheaper but has significant lead time. If your transit time demands it, ship by air and you’ll have confidence in the transit times.
  • Book now if you can. Freightos.com is fully operational, so book orders now to get goods moving as quickly as possible.
  • Communicate regularly with your freight forwarder. This is more important than ever – staying in touch means you’ll have a better handle on your transit time and stay on top of any changes that may arise.
  • Make sure that you have manpower to accept your goods at arrival. This will minimize delays.

How to stay informed: 

As always, we at Freightos.com are here to help. Please reach out if you have any questions or concerns..

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