Retail

Freight-Broker CEO sees supply snarls at least through February


A worsening traffic jam clogging global cargo arteries won’t ease up until after the 2022 Chinese New Year in February, said the head of one of the world’s largest freight brokers.

The supply chain is suffering from a “dramatic lack of capacity” for ships, trucks, trains, containers and warehouse workers, said Bob Biesterfeld, chief executive officer of C.H. Robinson Worldwide Inc. said. Labor shortages are keeping trucks idle and containers stuck at distribution centers, which is capping capacity.

“There’s really not any point in the supply chain that is not experiencing some sort of dislocation or issues,” Biesterfeld said in an interview.

Containers stuck in freight yards with no one to pick them up are at record levels, as are the charges related to such so-called detention of equipment, Biesterfeld said. Some shippers are turning to costly air freight out of concern about ocean-cargo delays. C.H. Robinson is now operating an average of 15 to 20 cargo flights a week, which it had done much less frequently before the pandemic, Biesterfeld said.

Adding to the overcrowding, large retailers are shipping holiday merchandise early.

“Clearly as we think about back to school, as we think about the holidays, there is going to be incremental demand layered on top of what is an already tight market,” Biesterfeld said. “I don’t think there’s any sign that it’s going to get better.

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