Feature, Freight News, Sea

Buying group takes the DIY approach to Far East container shipping

[ February 11, 2021   //   ]

Following yesterday’s report that freight forwarder Geodis had chartered a breakbulk vessel to move containers from the Far East, German-based purchasing association XStaff said that it had charted the 2,700teu containership Laila from intra-Asian operator China United Lines to move boxes from Yantian in China to Rotterdam and Hamburg.

The vessel departed China on 8 February and is expected to arrive in Europe at the beginning of March.

XStaff said it was moved to take action by “Extremely high cargo rates, limited container availability and frequent delays – retail and industrial cargo owners are currently facing enormous challenges when shipping goods from Asia to Europe. Container spots on freighters headed to Europe are booked out weeks in advance – and that despite price rises of up to 800% compared to the same time last year. A difficult situation for shipping agents, but also for XSTAFF GmbH, which, as an international purchasing association, has been successfully representing its members in negotiations with shipping companies for many years. In light of unexpected and exceptional growth in volumes in areas such as medical relief aid, it became necessary to explore new avenues in the interest of our clientele.”

XStaff chairman Bodo Knop added: “Our members need planning security, a contractually secured cost framework, and reliability in the service provision. In view of the compelling market situation, we decided to take matters into our own hands and offer our own transport capacities.”

XStaff said capacity on the 2008-built vessel were all allocated in just a few days and, despite the high charter costs, rates offered were “in the lower range”.

The vessel transported  non-food products destined predominantly for European DIY and supermarket chains.

While originally planned as a one-off initiative, preparations are already underway for a second voyage in the first half of 2021 if the shipping environment has not improved.