Coffee Freight: From Export to Import


Over the few months, shipping container and freight logistics have been making a lot of news (NYTThe Guardian). Why? The ongoing Covid-19  pandemic and its consequences. The demand for containers is quite a bit greater than the supply for routes between Asia and the U.S. West Coast. This is causing an extreme increase in container pricing and increased difficulty in securing bookings for these lanes. For example, ocean freight from Indonesia and Papua New Guinea to the U.S.A. has roughly doubled in cost over the past five months.

Remember, in the early days of the pandemic, everyone (e.g. retailers, distributors, wholesalers, consumers. etc.) stopped buying products from Asia, which led to many empty container ships and cancelled sailings. However, it appears that the demand for all goods from Asia didn’t go away, it shifted in time and has now piled on top of normal demand. It’s not really clear how long this supply-demand mismatch will last, but, overall, there is significantly more volatility in global shipping than there was pre-pandemic. 

We are fortunate that the vast majority of our coffee moves through the Gulf and East Coast ports. With the exception of Papua New Guinea and Indonesia, we haven’t seen major price volatility or availability issues related to the Asia-demand surge and we have been looking at alternatives for Papua New Guinea and Indonesia, including routing containers through the East Coast instead of the West Coast  Of course, the weather on the Gulf and both coasts tends to be less predictable. but we are hopeful that weather and rail backups won’t be an ongoing issue.

Rest assured, RhoadsRoast Coffees is always here for you, and we understand that it’s extremely important for you to receive your coffee on time and when you need it. While we can’t control global shipping movement or predict the future, we will keep you informed about your estimated delivery dates and make sure that you always have coffee. If you need any support in planning your future buys, tracking coffees you have on contract, are expecting to contract, or have any questions at all about the state of global shipping affairs, please don’t hesitate to reach out. We are here and happy to help!


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