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Why is there a lack of Shipping Containers?

The container shortage continues to be a huge, global issue. As containers transport products, parts, and equipment vital to sustaining business operations.

Over the past year, countries around the world have experienced lockdowns. The Coronavirus pandemic created a domino effect of repercussions.  Beginning in Asia, exports halted. Later lockdowns in the US meant empty containers were building up in ports.

Retailers and producers have experienced the effects of container shortages. Including congestions at ports and increases in freight prices. Whereas shipping containers have seen ‘exceptionally strong’ performance in Q1 of 2021.


How did the container shortage happen? and what does it mean for the industry?

Causes and effects of shipping container shortage



Facts & Figures about Shipping Containers

There are many interesting facts & figures you may not know about shipping containers…

  • A huge 95% of the world’s cargo is moved by ship.
  • In the UK, the discrepancy between the levels of import and export are rather large. Many containers leave the UK simply holding air.
  • 97% of all containers are made in China. As the labour is cheap and because China exports a large majority of the world’s products. So it makes sense to make the containers in the same place as the products will be exported from.
  • The busiest shipping port in the world is Shanghai. It is the size of 470 football fields. It is said to have enabled China to become the world’s largest trading nation.
  • Once shipping containers have been used for a specific type of cargo, that is regulated, then they can have no other uses. For example, once used for food or chemicals, that container can never be used for a different type of cargo.
  • At any one time, there can be up to 20 million containers travelling around the world.
  • A large ship used for transporting cargo is approximately x1000 more powerful than a family car. Yet, they can only travel at a maximum speed of 23 knots (26.5 mph) and 17 knots in bad weather conditions.
  • Approximately ⅔ of shipping crews around the world do not have any means of communication. Only 10% have any access to the internet.
  • Containers are used for shipping for many years, with most lasting between 20-30 years.
  • Shipping is still considered the safest form of commercial transportation. As it was one of the first to put in place international safety standards (IMO & ILO).


To discuss facts & figures around shipping containers, and how this could affect your business, get in touch at


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