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Ocean freight rates have skyrocketed after the conflict escalated in the Red Sea, forcing carriers to avoid the area and route cargo around South Africa’s, Cape of Good Hope. As we stand at the intersection of geopolitical tensions and market dynamics, understanding the implications and planning accordingly is crucial for shippers and logistics providers alike. The rate hikes, additional service charges and service/routing changes are not going to pass unnoticed. Shippers should expect to see a plethora of surcharges moving through spring. 

The attacks on shipping in the Red Sea by Houthi rebels have disrupted regular trade routes, leading to a significant surge in ocean freight rates. Reports from The Loadstar indicate carriers are slashing allocations for low-rated contract cargo, pushing some shippers onto the spot market. Essentially, carriers are turning away cargo they’re contracted to carry for a lower rate in favor of taking on cargo that has paid astronomical rates on the spot market. 

With the Lunar New Year approaching on February 10, some carriers are quoting rates exceeding $10,000 per 40ft for shipments before the holiday. Shippers face tough decisions as carriers adjust schedules and demand for urgent shipments rises. While some (laughably) anticipate a post-holiday rate decrease, smart planners know that even if world peace were achieved, carriers would instantly announce a Crisis-Averted Restructuring Surcharge.

Transpacific spot rates from Asia to North America are described as “out of control” by industry experts. Surprisingly, transatlantic spot rates remained flat. However, industry insiders suggest that significant rate increases are on the horizon, anticipating a shift in carriers’ tolerance for the current transatlantic rates. 

Agility and strategic planning are paramount. Shippers and logistics providers must closely monitor market dynamics, collaborate with carriers, and stay informed about geopolitical developments. Edward J. Zarach and Associates is committed to guiding our clients through the madness, providing insights, and facilitating resilient logistics strategies. If you’re ready to have a logistics partner specializing in service, contact your Zarach representative.