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



Last updated: July 3, 2022

Freight & shipping costs & delays

There are a number of current shipping issues impacting freight costs and shipping delays. Seasonality, a drop in available exports, and inflation’s impact on European consumer demand are causing decreased Asia-Europe pricing, while the lockdown in Shanghai drove down Asia-North America ocean rates in May – though these remain extremely elevated compared to pre pandemic prices.

The two-month lockdown in Shanghai has significantly impacted the availability of exports. Though authorities are trying to jumpstart production, manufacturing continues to drag. And with the city’s trucking capacity down an estimated 45% it is difficult to get imported materials from the ports to the factories – or available shipments from factories to ports.

These factors have led to an estimated 20-30% drop in export volumes out of Shanghai since the lockdown began

With Shanghai set to begin reopening in June, it is possible a surge of pent up demand will combine with these other trends to put renewed pressure on operations and freight rates.

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Ocean freight market update & forecast for 2022

 Asia – US prices to both coasts dropped by more than 13% at the end of June, and are at least 13% lower than this time last year marking the first annual decrease since H1 2020. 

And – though still well above pre-pandemic norms – prices are trending down at a time they were already climbing on peak season demand a year ago.  

Asia – US West Coast rates have now fallen more than 50% in Q2. Asia – N. Europe prices have been stable since early May. This is possibly due to worsening congestion at European hubs – but are nearly 30% lower than at the start of the year. 

Of the major tradelanes, only transatlantic prices are higher than at the start of the year.

Europe – US East Coast rates are 42% higher than a year ago, and about 4X pre-pandemic norms.

Demand has remained strong, and – even with capacity diverted from Russian ports to the lane –  congestion in European and East Coast ports continue to slow operations and put pressure on rates.

Questions remain for what the rest of the year will look like. 

A recent analysis indicates that the drop in exports from Shanghai during the lockdown was mostly compensated by shifts to other ports. Together with signs that demand is slow, this insight makes a possible surge in volumes out of Shanghai as it reopens even less likely.

And finally, though labor negotiations on the US West Coast are reportedly making progress, new labor issues that could affect logistics are developing in Europe and among Canadian and US rail workers

These are container freight rates for July 1, 2022 according to the Freightos Baltic Index:

Containerized Freight Rates from 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 $6,579 $7,599 $10,113 $10,634 $8,075
Last Week -6% -15% -13% 1% 1%
Last Year* -4% -14% -13% -5% 42%
* Compared to the corresponding week in 2021

 


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.

spot rates

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

Ripples from the war in Ukraine and ongoing coronavirus outbreaks are disrupting air cargo – especially Asia-Europe operations – and putting pressure on air cargo rates. 

The lockdown in Shanghai led to cancellation of flights and reduction in capacity, however with manufacturing shut down, demand for air cargo plummeted thereby counteracting the spike in air cargo pricing.

Freightos Air Index PVG – N. Europe air rates increased 43% from start of March to start of April and then fell 38% by start of May as available exports dropped.  Rates still remain more than three times typical pre-pandemic prices.

Sanctions and COVID lockdowns are currently the main drivers of the capacity and demand.

transit time june 2022


Trucking delays and cost increases

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 as sanctions are mounted against Russia, the third-largest oil producer in the world. 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.


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? 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.


When will shipping prices go down?

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

But, despite potential delays and high 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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