Container equipment prices double in the space of 12 months

Prices of dry freight shipping containers have doubled over the past year to reach historic highs but will moderate over the next few years, according to Drewry’s recently published Container Census & Leasing Annual Review and Forecast 2021/22 report.

Dry box newbuild prices rallied strongly in 2020 from the lows of the prior year to reach their highest level since 2011 by the fourth quarter, with a year-on-year gain of 75%. Then by Q2 this year 40ft high cube containers breached the $6,500 threshold, more than doubling over the year, to reach their highest value since Drewry started monitoring container equipment prices back as far as 1998.

“Pricing has been driven by soaring demand for newbuild containers as shipping lines and lessors have been seeking to rebuild fleets in the face of chronic equipment availability due to widening disruption across the container supply chain,” said John Fossey, head of container equipment and leasing research at Drewry. “But also increased input costs, particularly for corten steel and flooring materials have also played a part. We expect dry box prices to peak in the third quarter and to soften thereafter, easing further over subsequent years as trade normalises.”

In sharp contrast, reefer and tank container prices changed little over 2020, but rallied in the first six months of 2021, up 6.5% and 40% year-onyear, respectively, in Q2. Prices of these specialist container types have different cost drivers to dry containers and are expected to continue rising although at a moderate pace over the next few years.

Sam Chambers

Starting out with the Informa Group in 2000 in Hong Kong, Sam Chambers became editor of Maritime Asia magazine as well as East Asia Editor for the world’s oldest newspaper, Lloyd’s List. In 2005 he pursued a freelance career and wrote for a variety of titles including taking on the role of Asia Editor at Seatrade magazine and China correspondent for Supply Chain Asia. His work has also appeared in The Economist, The New York Times, The Sunday Times and The International Herald Tribune.
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