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Throughout the recession, the container industry has been talking about the decline of container availability in the United States. Here is a story that is showing the affect that will have on industries that depend on a ready supply of containers throughout the US. In this case, farmers are experiencing a changing market: Illinois grain exporters, seeking empty containers, fret about decline in imports from China
As a container vendor, this is obviously a concern as well. There is a sense among container buyers that containers are a never-ending resource that simply fall off of trains in unlikely areas or are simply sitting in yards near ports and rail yards, there for anyone who cares to come in with a truck. This simply is not true.
Containers are a commodity like anything else. They are manufactured in Asia and used to ship goods all over the world. They are available for purchase in certain cities throughout the United States. They are made of steel and a lot of money has been put into moving them around, which means they are not free, or cheaper than the cost of scrap metal. Most importantly, as Americans export more and import less, the availability of containers will dry up.
What does this mean to people who want to buy containers? You will need to be careful with your purchases. As there are fewer containers, prices will go up. Containers that are wind- and water-tight, won’t leak, are going to be in higher demand. There will probably be a few more containers that are not in good condition that will be sold for old prices, which will disappoint those buyers who are set on finding a “good deal”. There will also be more scams. Buyers will need to do more homework on the companies they are buying on and realize that the days of very low-cost containers are gone.
Hopefully as the economy improves, we’ll see a return to plentiful containers and better prices. In the meantime, be ready to see prices go up a bit and to do your homework to make sure you end up with a good container that will meet your needs.