Yntze Buitenwerf, Seatrade Reefer Chartering “Congestion in reefer containers will remain on the world market for months to come”


The congestion of reefer containers in China continues to increase due to the impact of the Corona virus. The bottleneck is mainly in the Chinese ports of, among others, Shanghai, Xingang, Tianjin and Ningbo. The ports report a full capacity that no reefer container can access anymore and therefore advise the shipping companies to unload their cargo elsewhere. Due to the rising extra costs, shipping companies are introducing a congestion tax for reefer transport to China with prices that fluctuate between 1,000 and 1,250 dollars per reefer container.

“The congestion of reefer containers is not only noticeable in the Chinese ports but also in the neighboring countries,” says Yntze Buitenwerf of Seatrade. “Obtaining information about the situation in Asia is not always easy and we have to keep a tight grip on it, but also in Hong Kong there is no longer any reefer plugs available. Container ships must pass through full terminals to other ports and dump their containers in the region including Hong Kong, Vietnam, Malaysia, Taiwan, etc. The containers then remain at those terminals for weeks before feeder ships are given slots to be able to deliver the containers to the correct destination. “

The containers that are now stuck at the terminals in East Asia are leading to a shortage of reefers elsewhere. “In Chile, fruit exports to China are stagnating because there are hardly any refrigerated containers left. Container ships from China have little or no empty containers on their ships. And that despite the swine flu, there was already a great shortage of reefers on the market in China. This has led to an increasing export of meat from Europe and South America to China. The corona virus increases this effect considerably, since in China there is no longer any transport from the ports to the destination in the hinterland and the port personnel remain at home and cannot unload the ships. “

Yntze does not see any rapid improvement in the situation on the market yet. “Imagine if you could find a drug against Corona tomorrow, then this logistical catastrophe would be on the world market still for months to come. Imagine if all ports in China are full of reefer containers, we are talking about 120,000 reefer containers, while the total number of reefer containers worldwide is around 1.5 to 1.6 million. This means that based on these figures, around 8% of refrigerated containers have disappeared from the market due to the blockage. This while the cargo, e.g. Fruit and vegetables, often still in the container. “

Circumstances are increasing the demand for additional cold stores in Europe and for cooling ships. “But our fleet is already sailing with a capacity of 90 to 95%,” says Yntze. “In addition, there is insufficient capacity in the cold stores to deal with the shortage of reefers. In recent years, the trade has simply been handled too easily and too quickly in containers.”

By Fresh Plaza