Freight costs keep surging despite shipping giants freezing prices

Shipping costs are continuing to rise despite some carriers suspending rate increases and investigations by competition regulators, with the price for ocean freight on popular routes up by more than 500% in the last year.

The average price for a 40-foot container stands at US$10,374.64 as of September 16, an increase of 2.9% on the previous week and 323% higher than a year ago, according to the Drewry World Container Index, which tracks the cost of containers. It marks the 22nd consecutive week of increases.

Ocean freight rates have been soaring this year as demand for goods picked back up after the pandemic triggered a sharp slump across sectors. Disruption from lockdowns and a shortage of workers and containers have only exacerbated matters.

On sought-after routes, such as from Shanghai to Rotterdam, freight prices have increased by an eye-watering 570% in the last 12 months. Shipping a container from the Chinese city to Genoa is up by 509% for the same period.

The spiralling costs have hit companies, particularly SMEs, which have been struggling to cope with rates as well as the economic fallout from the pandemic.

In an attempt to calm the market, support customers and soothe inflation worries, two of the world’s biggest shipping companies have…

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