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Shipping Container Price Increases | The How’s & Why’s

Shipping Container Price Increases | The How’s & Why’s
Shipping containers stacked at a transportation company warehouse in Rhode Island

While inflation may have begun to cool for some commodities, shipping container rates aren’t on the list. According to 2024 data from Statista, container freight rates for a 40-foot shipping container jumped from an average of $1,342 in October 2023 to $3,964 in January 2024. Shipping container price increases effect everyone, not just the transportation industry

This shipping inflation may cause ripple effects throughout other industries. But what caused this price spike, and when will it ease? Read on to learn more about the causes of shipping container price increases and discover how it affects you.

How much does a shipping container weigh? Dimensions included

Most commercial shipping containers range between 10, 20, and 40 feet in length. The chart below shows dimensions, weight, and capacity.

Shipping container size Dimensions Weight Total capacity
10-foot container 10 x 8 x 8.6 feet 2200 pounds 563 cubic feet.
20-foot container            20 x 8 x 8.6 feet   4500 pounds 1,172 cubic feet
40-foot container 40 x 8 x 8.6 feet 8500 pounds 2,390 cubic feet

The most commonly used commercial shipping container sizes are 20 and 40 feet. A 20-foot container can hold approximately 10 standard pallets, while a 40-foot container can hold 20.

How much do shipping containers cost? Shipping container price increases explained

Most shipping containers cost between $1,800 and $8,300, depending on their size, location, and whether they are new or used. Base prices of shipping containers have also slightly increased due to trends like shipping container houses and sheds.

How much does it cost to ship different container sizes with the new shipping container price increases?

The price to ship a container can depend on several factors, such as the distance between destinations and the shipping container’s overall size.

According to 2024 data from Sirelo, the average cost to ship a full 20-foot shipping container ranges between $2,800 to $15,600, while a 40-foot container ships for between $1,865 to $13,080.

shipping container price increases chart

A shipping container shipping rates chart

You can see more details in the following ocean freight rates chart.

Container size Destination Cost
20 Feet North America $1216 – $3414
20 Feet Europe $1,440 – $7,805
20 Feet Asia $3,025 – $4,220
20 Feet Africa $4,980 – $7,985
20 Feet South America $1985 – $7195
40 Feet North America $1,519 – $4,267
40 Feet Europe $1440 – $21,855
40 Feet Asia $3,555 – $4,965
40 Feet Africa $5,860 – $9,395
40 Feet South America $3,690 – $8,460

What are the causes of shipping container price increases?

The global cost of shipping containers shot up during 2020 due to the pandemic. Port closures and labor shortages led to massive backlogs. And while time eventually eased the congestion, new issues arose

Ocean freight rates are increasing again in 2024, as carriers must reroute their ships due to the Red Sea crisis. The Houthi rebels have attacked ships crossing the Red Sea. As a result, carriers must now either avoid the Red Sea and go around the Cape of Good Hope or cross the Panama Canal. This rerouting has caused shipping delays and freight rates have increased as much as 186% in some regions.

The shipping destination also influences the overall price. For instance, containers coming to or from Europe depend heavily on the Suze Canal. So, many European shippers have turned to air freight as an alternative.

How does shipping container inflation impact me?  

The overall elevated international shipping prices may contribute to further inflation in 2024.

According to a 2023 report published in the Journal of International Money and Finance, shipping price increases usually impact domestic inflation by 0.15%. Typically, prices peak within a 12-month period and gradually revert six months after the peak.

When will ocean freight rates decrease?

Luckily, there may already be a light at the end of the tunnel. As of March 2024, prices for ocean freight rates have already begun to decrease. The average price to ship a 40-foot container dropped from a peak of $3,964 in mid-January to $3,162 in mid-March.

While prices have yet to drop to their pre-inflation levels, this is an encouraging sign that they may continue to decrease over the coming months.

“Unlike during Covid-19 when disruption continued to wreak havoc, shippers and carriers now know what they are dealing with in terms of ships being diverted around Africa to avoid the Suez Canal,” Emily Stausbøll, Xeneta market analyst, told CNBC in February. “The situation can still change at any moment, but perhaps some semblance of order has been restored.”

A Rhode Island transportation company to steer you through shipping rate increases

While no one knows when shipping container freight rates will settle, you can count on N&D Transportation Company Inc to help you find the most cost-effective rates for your business.

We offer brokerage for international ocean transport for both imports and experts. We can also help you with dedicated fleet services and direct store delivery throughout the New England area, or nationally through our carrier partners.

As your dedicated third-party logistics partner, we’ll work hard to ensure you always receive competitive shipping rates that keep you and your customers happy. Contact us today for a free consultation.