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Supply chain professionals foresee rise in disruptions and increased container prices


In the aftermath of the March 26 Baltimore bridge collision, supply chain professionals are anticipating price hikes, as indicated by a significant rise in sentiment for container price increases, reports Container xChange, a global container logistics online platform.

A rebound of freight volumes into the US this year, coupled with the bridge incident and the ongoing challenges in the Red Sea as well as the Panama Canal is expected to strain key US ports in the short term. This is expected to lead to increased congestion, additional logistical and operational complexities, and short to midterm price increases.

The Container xChange’s Container Price Sentiment Index (xCPSI) unexpectedly surged from 26 to 61 points between March 18, 2024, and March 29, 2024. This marked increase suggests that the industry is anticipating container prices to increase in the coming weeks—while the suddenness of the index’s move highlights rising uncertainty in the market.

“The sharp rise in sentiment could be linked to ongoing market volatility, the perceived emergency on the US East Coast due to the Baltimore collision, and the resulting sustained pressure on the market,” commented Christian Roeloffs, co-founder and CEO of Container xChange. 

“We have received feedback from industry sources indicating an anticipated increase in container prices in the upcoming days/weeks, with projections ranging from 50-100 USD per TEU. This information suggests that customers looking to order new build units may encounter higher unit prices compared to previous weeks. One manufacturer, whom we used as a source in previous reports, anonymously shared this insight.

“Additionally, another customer from Europe, who prefers to remain anonymous, is stocking up on various types of units in anticipation of future price hikes.” 

 Update on the Baltimore incident 

As of 29th March 2024, the Key Bridge Response 2024 Unified Command* reported that 56 total containers loaded on the vessel contained hazardous materials, with 14 impacted. These 14 containers were assessed by an industrial hygienist for potential hazards. The Unified Command and Joint Information Center were established in Baltimore on 26th March 2024 to coordinate the response and disseminate information regarding the Francis Scott Key Bridge collapse.

In the meantime, The Captain of the Port (COTP) Baltimore has established a temporary alternate channel on the northeast side of the main channel in the vicinity of the Francis Scott Key Bridge for commercially essential vessels, according to the official statement by Mayor Brandon M. Scott, on Sunday, 31st March 2024.

The temporary channel will be marked with government lighted aids to navigation and will have a controlling depth of 11 feet, a 264-foot horizontal clearance, and vertical clearance 96 feet. The Unified Command is working to establish a second, temporary alternate channel on the southwest side of the main channel. This second channel will allow for deeper draft vessels with an anticipated draft restriction of 15 to 16 feet.

 (Unified Command photo)