Tea, Coffee and the Suez Canal diversions

There’s an emerging news story which we’d like to set the record straight for our readers this month….. The Suez Canal diversions…

There have been many headlines in both trade and domestic press relating to the Houthi attacks on container ships. After reading these headlines one could be forgiven for thinking that global trade was significantly under threat. The actual situation is quite different. Whilst the shipping lines are incurring much greater fuel, insurance and operational costs, and higher freight rates are being charged, these are nothing like the levels experienced during Covid, when shipping rates from Asia to Northern Europe went up by approximately 800%. Current rates are up approximately 200%.

There are reported fears of delayed vessels arriving at ports en masse which will lead to congestion, however the feedback from most European container ports is largely positive. Whilst any vessels that have diverted from the Red Sea around the Cape of Good Hope have experienced a two-week slide in final delivery date, this also means there is a fairly consistent schedule of ships arriving, albeit being 10-14 days late. This means a fairly low impact in port operations although some bunching of arrivals is expected towards the end of January.

The shipping lines are, in general, working directly with port operations to create plans to get their vessels through in good time. For Asia to Europe services, an 11-week sailing rotation has now become 13-15 weeks, however the shippers are mitigating some of this by introducing extra tonnage and calls at extra ports. Some Asia to Europe services have included Cape of Good Hope scheduling into their plans until April which shows they aren’t expecting to see an improvement on this situation in the short-term. The prediction is that vessels from Asia will be delayed for the near future and that cascading unloading shipping equipment shortages will produce increasing challenges at loading ports.

We have good stocks of both tea and coffee and don’t anticipate these delays to cause any problems with our ongoing supplies to you.

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