China Driving Demand for… Empty Containers

Feb 16, 2021

Seemingly nothing should shock us anymore, but trying to understand the current shipping container shortage is mind-boggling.

Ag exporters around the world are watching stockpiles grow as they struggle to find containers to get products moving.

The reason? China.

Faster pandemic recovery has led to increased manufacturing in the Asian nation. And Chinese exporters are paying a premium to get their hands on shipping containers to move their goods around the globe.

Those premiums have led to global shipping giants rejecting opportunities to deliver U.S. agricultural products so they can ship empty containers to be filled in China.

Worth repeating… U.S. ag commodities are literally missing the boat as shippers can make more money sending empty cargo bins back to China.

But it’s not just a problem in the United States. International grain sellers are struggling to secure container space. Left unchecked, some experts are concerned consumers could start seeing higher food prices as a result.

+ While we’re here: Remember that whole U.S.-China trade war thing? Well, Phase One didn’t entirely live up to expectations. The USDA reported that while China agreed to buy $36.5 billion worth of ag products in Phase One, only $28.75 billion was actually sold.