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Container index shows high box inflows at US ports throughout 2021

  • US ports are consistently showing very high Container Availability Index (CAx) values this year compared to 2020 and the pre-pandemic 2019, which has led to the crippling of the supply chain
  • CAx values consistently above 0.70 indicate that these ports have been importing an increasing number of containers for a long period and the exports are impacted
  • In particular, the ports of Long Beach and Los Angeles have consistently shown CAx values higher than 0.80 since the beginning of the year

Ports in the US are consistently showing very high Container Availability Index (CAx) values this year compared to 2020 and the pre-pandemic 2019, a situation that has led to the crippling of the supply chain, according to Container xChange.

The global tech company for container trading and leasing in a report said the CAx shows that ports in the US, particularly the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach, are currently struggling to process very high levels of inbound containers.

On a global scale, about 78 ports recorded CAx values higher than 0.50, with 0.50 representing the ideal balance of inbound and outbound containers, the report said.

CAx values that are consistently above 0.70 indicate that these ports have been importing an increasing number of containers for a long period and the exports are impacted due to prevailing supply chain factors.

In particular, Long Beach and Los Angeles, the two busiest container ports in the US, have consistently shown CAx values higher than 0.80 since the beginning of the year, “which shows the catastrophic problem of higher inbound containers at these ports,” the report said. The situation is similar at ports like Oakland, Seattle, Tacoma, and other ports in the US West Coast.

The CAx at the port of Long Beach this week is 0.88, which is the highest since the year 2019 and compares to CAx values of 0.67 in 2019 and 0.68 in 2020, the report said. The higher CAx values indicate that in proportion to the inbound containers, outbound containers are much higher.

The port of Oakland, for instance, showed up general CAx values between a range of 0.36 to a maximum of 0.65 at a given week throughout the year 2020. This compares to somewhere in the range of 0.70 to 0.96 at any given week for this year.

“The United States being an import destination of containers, has witnessed extraordinary number of vessels this year as the demand grew exponentially, especially in the north America region. This has crippled the supply chain because the ports and the supporting ecosystem has not been prepared adequately. We need measures to collectively improve the situation at these ports, which has had a domino effect on other ports and in fact on the global supply chain,” said Johannes Schlingmeier, CEO and co-founder of Container xChange.

Photo by Charles Csavossy

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