Tis the Season for Congestion / Plan on Shipping Bottlenecks

All the shipping issues that we’ve had this year are being compounded with the seasonal holiday demand.  Ports are congested (at origin and destination) from sheer volume stress or labor issues, there are trade imbalances of containers especially for reefer equipment or flexi grade units, chassis units and trucking power is in short supply, and there are ongoing tariffs for imports, and new retaliatory tariffs for exports.  More than ever we have to be creative with transport solutions to minimize the disruption.  Read on for information and recommendations and reach out to your Hillebrand representative to find transport alternatives for your current shipment needs.

US Ports – chassis shortages, trucking demand, congestion – the volume buildup since late July first hit the US West Coast and has continued to exceed the available supply of chassis units and issues will likely continue through the end of the year.  Then increased demand started impacting all US inbound deep sea terminals, and rail ramps.  The complaints from shippers about detention and demurrage have been so strong that the Federal Maritime Commission is expanding their investigation (read the story on Freight Waves here).  The Port of New York / New Jersey has also recently issued a letter to stakeholders on how they are addressing the congestion here

Spain –  strike and work stoppages at Bilbao have been going on for over 50 days and the current call in force runs through December 9th.  This has had a major impact on shipments, container supply and vessel rotations.  Expect delays in vessel schedules and container positioning or additional charges for re-routing cargo to alternative ports.  

Australia / New Zealand – the situation continues to worsen and New Zealand is impacted by the shipping line delays in Australia (shipping lines service both areas in their rotations).  With the existing backup, carriers are omitting Auckland port calls and this affects the supply of container equipment at origin, particularly for flexi grade units, but for all equipment types at present.  Expect delays for shipments for imports from Oceania and surcharges for Auckland and Sydney.

Equipment supply– peak season on reefer supply is not a new challenge, but delays securing equipment across Europe (particularly France) is exceptional this year.  Shipments will be impacted throughout the end of the year at minimum.  Mediterranean Shipping Company (MSC) announced imbalance surcharges from Italy and Spain as well.    

US Exports – demand for empty container turnaround on the transpacific trade (to position boxes at origin) is so high that ocean carriers are prioritizing moving empty units over loaded exports units on outbound vessels and changing receiving windows.  For shippers of bulk wines and bottled wines or spirits, which are heavier than other commodities, carriers are tightening restrictions on tonnage weight as well.

Shipments to the United Kingdom – The UK is the latest area to implement congestion surcharges.  Charges vary per shipping line and origin region; see announcement from MSC for North America

FDA Registration reminder – The deadline for the renewal registration process is the end of this month.  This year the 9 digit UFI / DUNS (Data Universal Numbering Systems) is required, here is the website to lookup or register one.

Where Hillebrand is the nominated FDA agent, we will contact suppliers and complete the renewal.  For any new supplier or questions, please send your inquiries to fdausr@hillebrand.com.


Hillebrand as our freight forwarding partner is working to find solutions to minimize the disruption for our members wherever possible. 

To improve outcomes, we encourage the following:

  • Work with your local offices to provide advance notice on bookings to secure capacity and vessel allocation.
  • Adjust lead times and spacing of booking to give the most flexibility on available services (transit times) and shipping volumes per week.

Reefer supply:

  • Consider Hillebrand insulation options for seafreight from origin.  For inland destinations across the USA, Hillebrand’s Winter Wine Program is available to cross-dock freight into heated trucks for delivery to door.

Rush orders via airfreight:

  • If current delays for ocean shipment, or securing equipment will jeopardize your timelines, Hillebrand offers airfreight options as well.

Should you have any questions or need more information please contact your Hillebrand representative.  You can also manage pending shipments, pickups, invoices, set up alerts and more on myHillebrand.