A Brief Market Update for U.S. Imports


The market is in critical condition across many trade lanes, and the main themes have recently been space and equipment issues. Space has become extremely tight in past couple of months and it is not getting any better. Vessels are overbooked 3-4 weeks in advance, and carriers still struggling to meet demand and are not able to guarantee space and equipment.

Below is an overview of the current space situation for different origins.

Vessel delays caused by port congestion also continues. With port congestion, the equipment imbalance is getting more severe as more containers are stuck in terminals. Equipment shortages are spreading into 20’ equipment and some carriers are offering NOR (non-operating reefers) to replace the standard 40’/40HQ.

Below is an overview of the local equipment situation.

Many destination port terminals in U.S. drayage operations are affected, and it may take truckers up to 5-7 hours to pull containers sometimes. Coupled with driver and chassis shortages, the U.S/ trucking industry is struggling.

According to carriers, many large importers are willing to pay a premium to get secure space and equipment to have cargo moving. MSC (Diamond Premium) and CMA (Sea Priority) are among the new the premium services announced by carriers. Some premium space guaranteed services are also overbooked and now processed as “first come first serve.”

Here are some of the operational information in both West Coast and East Coast ports.

1. U.S. West Coast Ports

  • Terminals: There are currently 13 ships at anchor awaiting berths in LAX/LGB as of the third week of November. Most West Coast terminals are congested due to the spike in import volumes.
  • Rail: Shortage of railcars initially affected the inland transportation transit time to all main inland ramps. This situation has since then improved at the terminals, but they are still congested, and on-dock rail performance is still not optimal, forcing many units to be trucked to/from the off-dock rail ramp and the terminals. The off-dock ramp is heavily congested.
  • Truckers: High demand has affected overall trucker availability and the industry is facing an overall trucker shortage especially for dangerous goods and overweight containers.
  • Chassis: There is stressed chassis inventory in most terminal locations.

2. U.S. East Coast Ports

  • East Coast terminals continue to struggle with higher import volumes and high empty inventories.
  • Expected gate congestion at the end of week 48 due to closures for the Thanksgiving holiday on 11/26. Terminals have been extending gate/terminal hours when necessary to accommodate import deliveries. Driver shortages, congestion, and low chassis inventories are some of the other factors negatively impacting East Coast operations.
  • All East Coast terminals are dealing with some degree of berth congestion. The reinstatement of previously voided sailings is also causing a surge in import volumes upon arrival.

3. Chassis Pools:

  • Most chassis pools on both the East and West Coast are having issues or are stressed due to high demand.

Throughout our history, MTS Logistics has built its reputation on being there for our clients during the most critical and volatile times.

This unprecedented environment is no different. We are following the market and global trends in shipping and will continue helping clients navigate these circumstances and understand their options so that they can plan accordingly and minimize their exposure to negative market conditions.

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Orkun Gonen
Orkun is originally from Turkey and raised in the southern coastal city of Mersin, well known for its warm weather, and commercial marine port and free zone. Orkun’s interest in the shipping industry can be traced back to his childhood and his proximity to Mersin Port and free zone operations. He received his Bachelor’s degree in Global and International Affairs from Binghamton University. Orkun also holds a Bachelor’s degree in international relations from Middle East Technical University Ankara. He previously worked for a global container shipping line and a New York City based freight forwarder holding various positions in operations, customer service, and sales. Orkun is currently our award-winning sales executive covering and developing several areas: Texas, Kansas, Missouri, Tennessee, and New York. He travels to each of these locations every month to meet his clients, prospective clients and vendors in-person to ensure harmonious supply chains. Due to his operational background in the shipping industry, his clients appreciate his knowledge as value in their supply chain and lean on his expertise. His customer service background ensures that his clients experience a very pleasant shipping experience based on open communication, proactivity, and the satisfaction of selecting the right service. Orkun is a firm believer in trust built from the promise and delivery. He tailor fits the service specifically for each of his clients, covering all their special expectations and requirements. Fun Facts: His parents tricked him to taking classical music education and piano lessons since the age of 6. In time, he turned his attention onto other musical instruments and genres, but this eventually turned him into a music nerd playing several instruments. In his spare time, he plays piano, guitar, and drums, and goes to concerts.