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The following posting was put up in the end of July. As the economy rebounds (great news!), containers will be tougher to get. Here is an article which quotes the second-largest manufacturer of containers. He points out that due to lack of production during 2008-2009, and increased demand, containers are in short supply. Here is the original posting:
There is a myth in the container-purchasing world that containers are a magical, renewable, free resource. Of course, that has never been the case, but never more so than now. Right now the container industry is experiencing unheard of low supplies in the market. Container availability is at historic lows. As container markets dry up, container prices are on the rise. For more information on these shortages, please refer to the following article: http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/9c028c3a-7a35-11df-aa69-00144feabdc0.html.
Let’s separate fact from fiction and tell you what that means to you if you are buying containers.
Here are some of the most popular myths about containers:
Containers are free.
They have so many of them at the port you can’t see the sun.
The railroads just leave them by the side of the tracks.
My personal favorite – the $500 container.
None of these are true.
Let’s take those claims one at a time.
Containers are made of steel and are a commodity. So naturally they have a value. If they didn’t, you wouldn’t be reading this right now. They are traded just like everything else you buy.
Ports may have many containers near them, but that does not mean that they are empty or available. Shipping lines own those containers to provide to their own customers. The containers you see at ports are either full, and are on their way to the customer who will unload them, or they are empty on their way to be loaded by a shipping line customer. The shipping lines do sell their containers to brokers in the industry, and we in turn sell them to you. But those sales make up a very small percentage of the containers that you see at the ports.
Railroads do no such thing. First of all, why would they stop the train? Second, how would they dump them along the side of the tracks? Even if you go to a rail ramp, containers move more quickly in and out the same way they do at the ports, often on behalf of the shipping lines.
The $500 container. That may have been true 10-15 years ago. But containers are subject to inflation just like everything else. The steel alone is worth more than that these days. And in recent years, there have been more and more uses for containers beyond shipping lines. That increase demand for used containers has only brought the price up.
So what does this mean for you?
Containers are a great option. But, you are going to have to pay for them just like you would pay for anything else for your home or business. Increasing your flexibility regarding where your container comes from, or getting on waiting lists for containers in your city are ways to cut down on costs. Start looking for a container before you need it so you have time to get one in stock. And whatever you do, don’t tell us you can get one for $500.