Container freight rates have been trending fairly steadily up since March last year, and though they may be starting a slight downward trend, the numbers are far higher than they were this time last year.
Drewry Shipping Consultants’ World Container Index released Thursday said average freight rates on eight major routes to and from the U.S., Europe and Asia are down 0.5% to $1,449.91 for a 40-foot container. That’s up 102 percent from the same period in 2016.
Capacity issues had been putting pressure on freight rates, and in March the cost to ship a container from northern Europe to China hit a four-year high at $1,076 for a 40-foot container—which now seems low considering the new composite rate.
“The average composite index of the World Container Index assessed by Drewry for the year to date is $1,602/40ft container, $118 lower than the 5-year average of $1,721/40ft container,” Drewry said in a statement. “It is also double the price of a year ago.”
Rates for the Europe to Asia route are up 10 percent this week, marking the fourth straight week of increases.
“Rates on this trade are rising because of a space crunch at European ports, which we expect to persist till end-May. By contrast, the rates from Asia to Europe have decreased by 1 percent this week,” Drewry said.
Rates from Asia to the U.S. fell 4 percent this week and are expected to slide further in the coming week.