Editor's Note: This story is part of a weekly analysis of the logistics industry's latest statistics. See an overview in our data hub.
- Ocean freight rates from China to both U.S. coasts continued their rapid decline, leading freight rates to fall to 18-month lows, according to data from the Freightos International Freight Index (FIFI).
- Despite a short spike in freight rates the first week of November — like due to China's Golden Week — the price of transporting a container from China to either U.S. coast was at least 28% lower in November, compared to the same time last year.
- Demand for containers is not low, however. Ports on both coasts are also handling more loaded import containers, at times seeing 8% or more in year-over-year throughput growth. East Coast ports handled 10.9% more containers in November, compared to last year.
Supply chains are in the heart of peak season now, and port data from the past three months show just how hectic the season can be.
U.S. ports handled 4.52 million loaded import containers from August to October of 2017. The figures shows a combined import growth of 6.54% from the 4.24 million containers brought in last year. The growth is remarkable, leading many ports to break throughput records this year.
The upward trend in container traffic is not just being seen in the U.S., though. Growth is so high worldwide, Drewry Shipping Consultants recently raised its forecast for world container traffic for 2017. If the forecasts hold true, the measure "would this year break the 200 million TEU threshold for the first time ever."
"The Drewry Global Container Port Throughput Index shows no sign of slowing down, with the latest reading for September being nearly 10 points above the same month in 2016," Drewry analysts wrote in the latest Container Insight Weekly. "Ignoring the monthly fluctuations, the trend has been relentlessly positive in 2017, following on from a more muted growth pattern last year."
It's all about replenishment now — making sure the lines keep working or the shelves stay stocked — but industry professionals are finding their own gift this season as high traffic is coupled with remarkably low rates.