Container traders and operators are anticipating a demand rebound in February as China reopens after three long years of Zero-covid policy, according to a report by online container logistics platform Container xChange.

Early indicators reveal container operators expect a demand bounce back as the pickup charges from China to Europe Med for 40 foot High Cube containers rose 9.7 percent from $513 in week 1 to $563 in week 5. 

Similarly, average prices for 40 ft High Cube containers edged up 3.6 percent to $3,794 in week 5 from $3,662 in week 1 in China. Although the increase is insignificant, the downward trajectory has reversed, which is a good sign for the industry. 

According to Container xChange, container prices in China show signs of stabilisation though still elevated than the 2020 peak shipping and demand boom. In addition, there is increased availability of containers across ports of Shanghai, Ningbo, Tianjin, etc. 

“The rebound of trade in China, and hence the container trade rebound, will depend on the pace of the reopening in China, that is, how quickly do production volumes return to normal there,” said Christian Roeloffs, cofounder and CEO, Container xChange.

“It is going to be interesting to see what happens when inventory stock levels in import countries have been rebalanced and there is a need to reorder.”

In any case, Roeloffs sees a demand uptick as recent gross domestic product numbers show a recession is less likely in Europe.

“However, because demand really plummeted a lot, we will not see demand reviving to pre-Covid levels or even the ‘during Covid’ levels too quickly,” he stated.

(Writing by P Deol; Editing by Anoop Menon)