Several pieces of advice to importers scrambling to get container loads to the U.S.
Carriers need reefers in the U.S. market for refrigerated exports to Asia. On the way back from Asia, these reefers are powered down and can be used as non-operating reefers (NORs) to transport dry cargo. “Believe it or not, carriers are still moving some NORs empty because importers don’t like them. This is a missed opportunity to move cargo in NORs. My advice is: Take that option. If you’re searching for the best solution in this market, you’re going to see even more delays.”
He also suggested moving cargo via less-than-container-load (LCL) shipments. “LCL is still moving. Of course, you cannot move thousands of containers LCL, but if you have something urgent, you can still get space for LCL on May sailings. Instead of waiting, break your some of your shipments down into LCL shipments and at least get some inventory,” he said.
Yet another option: Be creative with routings. For example, direct China-West Coast sailings may be sold out, but cargo can be routed from China through the Panama Canal to Cartagena, Colombia, then back through the canal to the West Coast. “It has a longer transit time but it can be loaded in the same week and it’s an option versus waiting a month and a half to get loaded [for the direct route],” he said.
“Just get your cargo to the continent of North America and from there you can get it to where it needs to go, whether it’s with NORs or LCL or transshipping [through hubs like Cartagena] or shipping it to Canada and then putting it on rail to Chicago and trucking it to New York. It will be expensive, but at least it will get there.
“You have to be flexible. Look for any routing and be creative. It’s a moving target. And don’t wait. If something s up, act fast