Business Partner : GM Metal Packaging

Lack of containers in China at critical point

We are now struggling to find containers to ship goods from China, with some tins set to miss shipment before Chinese New Year.

This all occurred when the world became gripped with the pandemic, demand for goods from China dropped (with the exception of PPE) as shops closed and lock downs were imposed.

The shipping lines placed smaller vessels at anchor and started to run large vessels with over 19,000 TEU (20ft Equivalent unit), these vessels are more economical to run but take longer to load and off load, this has resulted in mass port congestion as these large vessels need bigger berths, larger cranes (taller boats) and more infrastructure to efficiently off load and reload.

The larger ships were arriving on schedule only to find that the UK ports had no room usually still in the process of off loading and reloading earlier vessels, so many of the shipping lines decided to skip the UK and off load the UK bound cargo in Europe, this has left empty containers in the UK that should have been reloaded back to China.

Around the ports we are seeing a familiar picture of containers stored waiting for a trip back to China.


Port congestion gets to crisis level as shipping lines refuse to dock in the UK.

In my 27 years of selling tins and importing from our factories in China and Sri Lanka, I have never seen such chaos at the UK ports with shipping lines refusing to off load in the UK.

The shipping lines are now off loading UK bound containers at the more efficient European ports while UK ports flounder in a mess with empty containers sitting on the quay side and chocking up external storage areas.

Today 7th January 2021, we have containers that were scheduled to arrive in the UK on the 21st November 2020 still sitting in Europe waiting for a feeder vessel (smaller vessel) to bring them into the UK and the situation is set to worsen this month as Chinese New Year approaches.

I believe the UK ports need to make further investments to improve services otherwise we shall face the same situation this time next year.