November 27, 2021

A dive into container shipping challenges

ST. LOUIS — It’s time to address recent export challenges affecting the U.S. soy industry, said Darwin Rader, international sales and marketing manager at Zeeland Farm Services Inc.

Rader was a speaker at the U.S. Soy Global Trade Exchange and Specialty Grains Conference.

Over the past 18 months, conditions led to a perfect storm for shipping container chaos.

Export Timeline

• The first half of 2020: Canceled sailings by ocean carriers due to COVID economy, booking and transit time challenges.

• July 2020: Start of surge of imports to United States. Ships return to service. Container rates begin steep rise.

• November to December 2020: Some ocean carriers begin avoiding handling ag exports.

• First half of 2021: U.S. import demand surge continues. Import rates climb to record levels.

“What was the result of all of this?” Rader asked. “We saw congestion at the West Coast ports. That congestion slowly moved inland, affecting rail terminals in the middle of the U.S. We saw trucking and chassis shortages.

“Exporters face challenges getting bookings and access to containers. Ocean carriers continue to ship empties back to Asia. Ocean carriers are currently reporting record profits. We’re seeing even lower service reliability globally in the ag industry.”

Rader wants buyers of U.S. soy to know a key message: “U.S. exporters are doing all they can to get export bookings to get soy products to you overseas.”

Erica Quinlan

Erica Quinlan

Field Editor