Home Industry News Supply chain signals: New-container prices and production finally peak

Supply chain signals: New-container prices and production finally peak

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For a telling window on the global supply chain crisis, watch the market for the containers themselves: the commoditized, corrugated steel boxes that move the world’s cargo.

The extremely consolidated container manufacturing industry in China built more containers than ever before in 2021: 7.18 million twenty-foot equivalent units, according to consultancy Drewry, up 130% from 2020 and 62% from the previous record year in 2018.

Record container production coincided with a record surge in prices, underscoring the sheer intensity of demand as supply chains buckled. Factories were getting close to $4,000 per TEU for newly built containers at the peak, double the historical norm.

But now, both the factory output and the price of new containers are pulling back.

According to Triton International (NYSE: TRTN) and Textainer (NYSE: TGH) — the largest and second-largest box equipment lessors in the world — new container prices have fallen to $3,400 per TEU. While the pricing of new boxes is down from its peak, pricing of older, used containers in the resale market is not, according to Triton and Textainer. When congestion starts clearing in earnest, more boxes will be released into service as ship queues ebb, making more of the older containers available for resale, which, in turn, will lower resale prices. That hasn’t happened yet.

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