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  September 21st, 2016 | Written by

New Container Equipment Prices to Fall to Record Lows

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  • Container price fall resulted from weakening state of the global economy.
  • Drewry is forecasting a further fall in container prices for 2016.
  • Container fleet growth in 2015 was lower than any time other than 2009.

Cheaper production and material costs as well as weaker demand has driven the price of new container equipment down to record lows, according to the latest edition of the Container Census report published by global shipping consultancy Drewry.

Drewry forecasts those prices to fall further during the remainder of 2016.

The container equipment index price at the end of 2015 was $1,450 per CEU (cost equivalent unit, a measure of the value that can be transported in a 20-foot box), down from $1,900 a year earlier. The average price for the year was $1,750, down 15 percent on 2014 and by the end of 2015 the index had fallen close to the all-time low of 2001-2002.

“Some of the recent price fall has resulted from the weakening state of the global economy and the decline in trade demand,” said Drewry’s lead analyst for container equipment Andrew Foxcroft.

“Drewry is forecasting a further possible fall in the overall price for 2016, as it dipped briefly to $1,300 by the second quarter.” By end-2015, the new-for-old replacement cost of the global box fleet was down to $77 billion, which compared with $90 billion or greater for the ends of each of the preceding five years (2010-2014).

The global container equipment fleet amounted to 37.6 million TEU at the end of 2015, having increased in size by 3.8 percent, or 1.36 million TEU during 2015. This increase was lower than at any time previously, apart from 2009 when the box fleet actually shrank, and was prompted by the weakening state of the global economy and a further decline in trade demand. The fleet is expected to expand at a similarly low rate, with a maximum of four percent to five percent per year for 2016 through 2019.

The weaker growth in 2015, which has affected the global container fleet as a whole, was also accompanied by a significantly poorer showing by the box lease industry. “This,” the Drewry report noted, “as opposed to the shipping line sector, was to suffer more from the downturn in demand, as indicated by its proportionally lower rate of fleet expansion.”

The biggest numerical growth, 6.4 percent, occurred within the maritime 40-foot high cube fleet of dry freight and reefer containers, as against three percent for 20-foot boxes. This increase amounted to a net addition of 1.15 million TEU for 40-foot high cubes, as against 333,000 TEU for 20 footers.

“The 40-foot high cube fleet is forecast to continue expanding at a faster rate than the maritime fleet as a whole,” Foxcroft concluded. “This gain will come at the further expense of 40-foot equipment, leaving the 20-foot share intact and unchanging.”