Drewry: Shipping Container Prices Drop in Challenged Market

ContainersIllustration; Image Courtesy: Pixabay under CC0 Creative Commons license

Prices for new and second hand shipping containers as well as lease rates fell in the third quarter of 2019 as factory stocks continued to build up and prospects for container shipping cooled, according to shipping consultancy Drewry.

Container shipping remains challenged by rising geopolitical uncertainty and a slowdown in the global economy. In response, Drewry recently cut its forecast for global container port throughput in 2019 from 3% to 2.6%. Add to this the growing number of boxes stockpiled in depots around China, estimated to be over one million TEU, and “it’s no surprise that the container manufacturing and leasing sectors posted disappointing results” in the quarter.

Dry box prices fell 5.5% over the quarter while reefer values remained stable. Drewry’s Dry Shipping Container Newbuild Price Index, which tracks values of new 40ft high cube containers, dropped four points in the quarter to a value of 82, representing an annual decline of 20%.

But the reefer price index, based on the prevailing value of new 40ft high cube reefer containers was unchanged at 89, having declined just 3% over the year. However, container resale prices remained broadly stable.

For the second quarter in succession transport operators purchased more reefers than lessors with Ocean Network Express and Hapag-Lloyd among those carriers taking delivery of a substantial amount of new equipment. Both lines are expanding their reefer services and needed the additional boxes to satisfy expected demand in the fourth quarter of 2019 and early 2020.

However, over the medium term Drewry still expects lessors to increase their share of the global container pool as shipping lines’ priorities lie elsewhere, notably in upgrading their IT systems and door-to-door service offering.

“A glut of newbuild dry box containers and falling values forced manufacturers to slash output which fell over 50% in the quarter, although reefer production remained stable,” Drewry said, adding that total shipping container production “will end the year having fallen 36% compared to 2018.”

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