A combination of increased transloading, healthy agriculture exports and moderate retail imports are likely the reason the number of 40-foot containers in Chicago available for outbound shipments was below zero for the 20th straight week ending Oct. 23.
Carrier data used in the report indicates 319 40-foot containers will be needed this week but are not projected to be fulfilled due to nonavailability at this location, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture's weekly Ocean Shipping Container Availability Report. Approximately 30 to 32 percent of imports coming through the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach are transferred from marine containers to domestic containers, meaning there are fewer 40-foot containers headed to the Midwest, said Ron Sucik, president of RSE Consulting. The steady expansion of DDG and soy exports is also making 40-foot containers scarce, and cautious retail shippers could be holding off on restocking ahead of the holiday season.
“Among the reported inland locations, Dallas, Chicago, Memphis, and Columbus are expected to have the most containers available over the next 3 weeks,” the USDA said in its release.
The number of FEUs lacking lacking last week was the second smallest deficit since the deficit began in mid-June 2013, trumped only by 241 FEUs unavailable in the week of June 26. In its projections for the next two weeks, the USDA expects the deficit to shrink in this area but still remain above 100 FEUs, estimating 170 FEUs will be unavailable this week and 135 the following week.
There were an estimated 1,323 20-foot containers available in Chicago in the week of Oct. 23, 16 more TEUs than were available the week before. TEU availability has been in the quadruple digits for the past 26 weeks.
The full report of all locations can be found on the USDA Web site, http://www.ams.usda.gov/oscar.