Container shortage is to continue into 2011 and will affect peak season with three million TEU fewer in 2011 compared to historical industry-standard level, said the World Shipping Council (WSC) in its latest Container Supply Review.
Slow steaming is also having an impact, accounting for boxes being held longer by carriers and having fewer available or re-deployment for fresh consignments in any give period.
Slow-steaming is a big factor in lessening container fleet with carriers employing 10 per cent less, down by five per cent on long voyages such as Asia and Europe which require more boxes regardless of slow-steaming use, concluded a separate report from SeaIntel, cited by the WSC.
Despite global cargo demand up by 11 per cent and container production increase of 26 per cent in comparison to 2008 levels and 2009 when production dropped to lows of 450,000 TEU from a three million TEU average yearly over a five-year period, the WSC reports continued container imbalance.
According to Paris-based Alphaliner's March review, container inventory to slot ratio was at its lowest ratio on record at 1.99 by the end of this year, from 2.03 in 2010 and height of 2.99 in 2000.
But the traffic/fleet ratio, laden against empty, is a more meaningful gauge, showing a higher ratio than 2010 when shortages were keenly felt in a 20-year high of 5.54, remaining over five since 2003.
"If one applied the 2008 ratio of 5.29 to the projected cargo demand for 2011, it would project a required container fleet of 31.3 million TEU, or 1.82 million TEU above the current 2011 projected container fleet size," said WSC of a shortage it forecasts will ease in 2012," said the report.