Intermodal containers becoming scarce for export shippers

Written by David C. Lester, Managing Editor
image description
There is a shortage of 20-ft shipping containers, particularly in the U.S. heartland.
David C. Lester

As sailings from North American ports have been canceled, a lot of containers are sitting at ports waiting to be shipped. This, in turn, is creating a shortage of containers for export shippers.

Noel Hacegaba, Port of Long Beach deputy executive director and chief operating officer, says, “There is an empty container crunch that is limiting the ability of shippers to export their products. On the other hand, the escalation of blank sailings is also resulting in thousands of empty containers piling up in our port.”

FreightWaves reports that the executive director for the Agriculture Transportation Coalition, Peter Friedman, says the western coast “ports have been more dramatically impacted by the canceled sailings from China, but carriers have canceled sailing to the U.S. [eastern coast] and Gulf ports as well, creating some shortage of ship space to carry our agricultural and forest products out of those ports.”

Friedman also said “On the coast, the problem is not that they can’t get empty containers, [but] they have nowhere to return them. Until China’s production of consumer goods for the U.S. market is fully back to pre-COVID levels, we won’t have the inbound ships delivering those consumer goods, and able to carry back to China the stockpiles of containers – both those that are empty, and those containing agriculture and forest products exports.”

For the latest railroad news, please visit

Categories: Class 1, Freight, Intermodal, Ports, Railroad News
Tags: , , ,