Market Information

Sea freight market update | March 2021

The post-Chinese New Year cool down that had been expected has not come to pass. In addition the continuing bottleneck of the North American western ports ties up shipping and equipment capacity enormously. Two weighty reasons stressing the sea freight market, impacting port activities and generating congestion across the global supply chain. Most experts expect this situation to last throughout the second quarter.

Trade Lane Update

Far East – Europe 

  • Westbound space and empty equipment availability (all types of containers) is still tight. After Chinese New Year there has not been a significant drop of cargo and carriers have been facing backlogs.
  • On eastbound routes, space is getting limited due to blank sailings and the equipment situation remains tight. Carriers are implementing surcharges due to equipment imbalances.


  • The space and equipment situation in Asia is extremely short and the complete transpacific eastbound trade is facing rollings and delays due to severe congestion along the U.S. West Coast.
  • Official statistical data shows that less than 20% of the arrivals at the North American west coast ports have been on time since Los Angeles and Long Beach are facing handling problems. More than 60 vessels are anchored in front of the two ports, and more than 15 vessels in Oakland. Dockworkers are still operating with reduced staff due to COVID-19.  
  • This situation is expected to remain critical for at least the next 1-2 months.
  • For the time being, DACHSER is still recommending long-term planning and asks customers for information about upcoming transports as early as possible so that we can offer the best solution e.g. alternative routings via Seattle / Houston or even via the U.S. East Coast. 

DACHSER expedited LCL Service

  • In addition, DACHSER offers an expedited LCL service from China to the U.S. West Coast which is a reliable alternative for customers to avoid congestion issues. 
  • The weekly scheduled direct expedited LCL service brings average dwell time down from 14-25 days to 3-7 days. Read more details about this DACHSER designed service.


  • A strong increase on rates as per April 1 is hitting the market. Carriers are strictly managing space. Equipment availability remains tight and waiting time for vessel space is about 6 weeks.
  • At Savannah port, some vessels are anchoring for unloading as well. The delay is currently almost 4 days. 
  • The yard is extremely congested and the port continues to move imports to the ocean terminal to make room for incoming imports in the pads.
  • Carrier contingency programs will also have a significant impact on delays and vessel space shortages from Europe to the U.S. and Mexico, as reduced and suspended services are expected in the upcoming weeks.

Read the PDF below for the current development based on World Container Index and Shanghai Containerized Freight Index.

Please do not hesitate to contact your local DACHSER representative for further advice, possible alternatives and any further information that might be needed. 

Container indexes PDF (0,11 MB)
Contact Katrine Cheng