Global container production, once experiencing roomy growth, is now in a tight spot

Recent data suggests that global container production, once experiencing roomy growth, has now found itself in a tight spot.

Until only recently, shipping giants were scrambling for containers, thanks to a pandemic-induced crunch and simultaneously roaring demand. But now, the situation has changed: demand for goods has plunged, leaving port owners with a glut of unused boxes. Naturally, that’s seen container production take a nosedive: data from a maritime consultancy showed the number of 20-foot containers (the industry standard) fell a chunky 71% last quarter from the year before, dropping to around 300,000. And the outlook isn’t sunny going ahead, either: Maersk, one of the world’s biggest shipping behemoths, has paused dry container production till at least 2024.

This container crunch mirrors the current state of trade and the whole global economy right now. The World Trade Organization expects this slump to be around for at least the rest of the year, and recent economic indicators seem to agree. Data out Tuesday showed a measure of eurozone business activity missed expectations and fell to a three-month low in May, weighed down by a flagging manufacturing sector.


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