Container shortage hits NW

A shortage of shipping containers could threaten the Northwest’s economic recovery.

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Sales in Asia are taking off for Northwest farmers, but the economic recovery could be hindered by a shortage of shipping containers.

Steamship lines are boosting rates and making cuts to save fuel, contributing to a container shortage that freight forwarders say is global.

Portland commodities trader Larry Jansky recently received 19 containers a month late. He barged the steel boxes to Idaho. He loaded them with dried peas and garbanzo beans. He got them back to Portland in time for shipping to India, Taiwan and South Korea.

Yet the vessel was full. Longshoremen left the $400,000 worth of cargo on the dock, awaiting a ship about a week later. The delay exposed Jansky’s North Pacific Group Inc. to postponed payments, rising shipping rates and the risk that buyers in India, where local chickpeas ripen soon, could use the excuse to reject delivery.

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