There have been warnings that congestion at ports in the US and UK means some products will not be available this next holiday season
Christmas trade will be safe from shortages caused by supply chain disruptions, said Maersk shipping company chief executive Soren Skou.
“At least that’s what I hear from our customers,” he told the BBC.
There were warnings that congestion at US and UK ports would lead to shortages over Christmas, and the Port of Los Angeles began operating around the clock to clear the backlog of cargo ships.
Skou said a shortage of workers at ports to unload ships and a shortage of truckers were at the root of the problems.
He told the BBC that Maersk, which manages nearly 20% of the world’s shipping containers, is chartering more ships, keeping ports open longer and opening more warehouses to help.
Skou estimated that around 300 large container ships were waiting outside ports around the world, including 80 in Los Angeles, “a few” outside Felixstowe in the UK and others outside Shanghai. and Ningbo in China.
Port congestion is the result of huge orders for consumer goods by people trapped in their homes due to the COVID-19 pandemic and their demand shows no signs of slowing down.
“The reality is that consumer demand is high and at the same time our customers’ stocks are low,” Skou said. “They both have to serve the consumer here and now, but also replenish stocks and that’s why we have an unprecedented demand situation.”
Simon Heaney of marine research firm Drewry told the BBC that “port congestion is worsening as the number of ships waiting outside major ports around the world increases”.
He said keeping ports open longer is not a solution if there is a shortage of personnel to operate them.