Spot container freight rates from North Europe to China have hit a four-year high as they jumped by 45% last week, according to shipping consultancy Drewry.
The market reading on the route from Rotterdam to Shanghai came in at US$1,076 per 40ft dry container on March 9, from US$740 registered a week earlier.
"Our sources reported that ships are currently full and that carriers have demanded much higher rates – only some prior rate agreements remain in place," said Philip Damas, head of Drewry's logistics practice.
Drewry informed that it is "highly unusual" for the route from Europe to Asia, where vessels normally have load factors of less than 70%, to see such spikes in rate levels and capacity shortages.
The reason for such an increase could be the capacity crunch, boosted by cancelled sailings in China following Chinese New Year, which has now reached Europe.