Ocean Rates Hit the Bottle(neck)!

One if by Land, Two if by Sea and Three if by Bottle.

This week, I received many inquiries concerning importing and exporting cargo by AIR and or Ocean freight.  I’m recommending a third option.  Hit the Bottle.  It’s cheap, looks good and eventually gets there.  Remember the song in 1973 by Jim Croce, “Time in a Bottle?”   It’s a great song and may have some relevance to today’s shipping issues.

While the Ocean shipping option is obviously le$$, the transit times are much longer than AIR.   When I talk with clients I ask them the real question.  “How much time do you have?” Another question is, “How much money do you have?”  Hello ?  

These are two very pertinent but difficult questions to answer and rectify given today’s shipping and logistics issues.  It’s a catch 22 – sort of.   Your customers don’t want to wait 2 months but won’t pay the added cost for AIR shipments. So, we look for an alternative.  That’s where we come in.

Yesterday, I was on the phone with a Greek investor and longtime friend.  We were discussing the issues of maritime shipping and delays involved in the Suez Canal as well as at the US ports including Los Angeles.  We brought up the issue of how long it takes to offload containers as well as the depth of many US ports.  Some ports are too shallow and unable to handle the bigger ships.

Read here why the Port of Houston in Texas is becoming the number one go-to port.  Deeper ports and infrastructure to efficiently offload cargo are key points.

We all know there’s a trade-off between money and time of delivery.  Many clients experience sticker shock at the price of AIR versus OCEAN.  What happens is that clients usually opt for Ocean, then after a month+ goes by, they ask if they can speed it up !  I wish I could make a phone call to the captain and say, “Hey Capitano’ can you step on the gas, my customer wants his container three weeks earlier.”

Presently, ocean containers are experiencing enormous delays. As you know the Suez Canal was recently clogged up causing another delay.  Compound that with COVID-19 protocols, high seas and tossed-lost cargo, shortage of empty containers and limited AIR capacity and you watch time in a bottle.  It stands still sometimes.  This whole situation makes our job even more interesting and challenging.

Here’s my take on the many questions that have been coming across my desk: It’s best to allow more time and plan ahead. Period.  There is no substitute for extra time by planning ahead.  Try it – it works! Here’s what we’re doing to help our clients out.  

We spot quote and move part of your cargo by AIR, then we ship the remaining product by ocean.  Due to the restrictions on space on the aircraft we may need to split up your cargo into a couple of shipments.  

Trying to get air space today is like trying to buy a house in this hot real estate market but wanting to wait three days before making an offer.  Have any of you lost an opportunity to buy a house that you really liked, but “wanted to think about it a little more”.  You’re just not going to get the house!  It’s as simple as that – you have to act fast.

So, don’t lose out on delaying any longer.  As the economy is coming back online there will be a higher demand for shipments as summer approaches.  

The other factor is realizing that the containers that were lost at sea are going to have to be replaced.  We’re talking about the actual container itself as well as the merchandise inside of it.  See our articles on the containers that went overboard .

The issue of just the empty containers alone will also trickle down and cause a crunch.  The other issue is a particular shortage of certain products like furniture electronics, sneakers and exercise equipment to name a few will hit us in the coming months.

Another factor affecting the freight cost and delivery times are capacity.  It has been decreasing about 3.5 to 4% while the demand has been increasing.  Supply and demand look for prices to keep moving upwards.

So let’s plan ahead before it gets into another crisis.  We don’t have the luxury like Aristotle Onassis did.  See how he made millions on the shipping industry. 

Listen to “Time in a Bottle” by Jim Croce. It’s a great song and will help you relax and get over the urge to hit the bottle.  “Time in a Bottle” is a song but Planes and Containers are not.  Remember the lyrics…

“But there never seems to be enough time
To do the things you want to do
once you find them
I’ve looked around enough to know…”


Contact us.  We have the time.  Spend time with your family. Let us take the bottle away and put Time Back in Your Bottle so you can do the things you want to do!

By David Lorusso

CEO /DGL Logistics, LLC

[email protected]

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