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How have world events affected global shipping & logistics?

In the past 18 months, a number of events have affected global shipping, not least of which was the Covid-19 pandemic. Even today, some ports are closed or operating at limited capacity because of the novel coronavirus.

Earlier in the year, the Chinese port of Yantian suffered from an outbreak in cases, which caused it to temporarily shut. Yantian is a significant enough port that its closer disrupted supply chains around the world.

Another incident that had a similar kind of “ripple effect” was the Suez Canal crisis in March, when the Taiwanese ship Ever Given turned and blocked all maritime movement through the canal.

This affected many industries and supply chains around the world, since 12% of global trade passes through the Suez Canal each day. In the coffee sector, this delayed green beans coming from Asia and Africa.

As previously mentioned, the global container shortage is also a major issue. While this is often the case in coffee supply chains during peak months, this year, several global factors have led to less containers everywhere.

Ultimately, this means that we now have containers that are not distributed efficiently. Many are simply not in the right place at the right time because the situation is hard to forecast, even for industry experts.

These various issues continue to arise, each affecting the movement of goods across the sector in a unique way. Alongside those mentioned, others include the political protests and export blockades in Colombia earlier in the year, regional lockdowns in Vietnam’s Central Highlands, unpredictable post-pandemic consumer demand, and fluctuating coffee prices.

Stephen Bannister, our managing director at Condesa, elaborates. “Services by many steamship companies have been cancelled or rerouted,” he says. “This means empty containers have a habit of building up in the wrong place, and reduced services slow the need for them to be where they are needed.

“We continue to see the wheels of global container logistics (and especially the small segment of clean food-grade containers) slow down.”

Altogether, this means one thing for importers above all else: it is becoming more expensive for importers to ship green beans, which are also taking longer to arrive. In turn, coffee roasters have to absorb higher prices and accept shipping delays.

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