World should prepare for unpredictable futurewith volatile shipping costs

A surge in consumer spending – especially for goods ordered online – combined with supply chain disruptions and logistics constraints pushed container freight rates to five times their pre-pandemic levels in 2021. The surge in container shipping costs, which peaked in early 2022, sharply increased consumer prices for many goods.

Likewise, freight rates for dry bulk – unpackaged raw materials like grains – increased due to the war in Ukraine, the prolonged pandemic and supply chain crisis. An UNCTAD simulation projects that higher grain prices and dry bulk freight rates can lead to a 1.2% hike in consumer food prices, with higher increases in middle- and low-income countries.

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