This is a question that our sales team answers to clients every day but the truth is, the answer changes regularly. The cost of shipping containers can change drastically from one year to the next and even depending on market conditions, it can change weekly. But at the end of the day, clients rightly want to understand what drives this cost. Let’s take a closer look at a few different factors.

Container pricing is highly driven by commodity pricing.

  • Raw materials: the main material used to build shipping containers is CORTEN steel. This type of steel gives containers their rust-inhibitive properties and long-lasting qualities. Consequently, fluctuations in steel commodity pricing will ultimately affect the price that new and used containers sell at on the global market. Because steel is currently at an all-time high, it is a significant factor driving the current price of shipping containers.

Having determined that commodity prices affect container prices, we also have to see how currencies come into play.

  • Value of USD: Commodities are priced on the global market in USD. As the containers are bought globally in USD and sold locally in CAD, pricing is strongly influenced by the relationship between the USD/CAD. Given that the currency has experienced high volatility in the last 12-24 months, this has strongly impacted local container pricing.

Once steel and the USD are considered, another major influence on the pricing of containers is the global supply and demand of the equipment.

  • Supply and Demand: Many customers have a misconception that shipping containers are in excess supply globally and this is actually not the reality. In 2016, there has been a shortage of shipping containers in the market as shipping companies have not invested in new container fleets and are using the equipment they have on hand. This has resulted in a shortage of USED containers available for sale in the local markets. As demand for equipment is high and supply is short, pricing is high.

These factors can influence the container market heavily and may be the main reason container pricing will increase and/or decrease from one month to the next. However, there are also microeconomic factors that can weigh into this as well.

  • Size and condition: naturally, new shipping containers cost more than used ones. Also, larger and more specialized containers like reefer units and flat rack containers are fabricated in specialized facilities and in smaller quantities, something that contributes to their higher cost.
  • Delivery: a significant portion of the cost of any container is the cost to transport it to your location. Many of our clients live far from our facilities and most also don’t have a forklift, container handler or crane to unload them. This means that we have to use specialized flatbed trucks to transport and unload the containers in place.

With all the factors listed here and pricing changing so frequently, it prevents us from posting accurate information online, on our website and our social media pages. We want to give you, our customers, the most up to date pricing information there is, and the only way for us to do this is through direct contact. Our phone lines are open Monday through Friday during regular business hours and our quote requests have a turnaround of less than one business day!

If you’d like to know the price for a shipping container, including rentals or containers with modifications, we’re always happy to help! Please visit our quote request form on our website, or call 1 866 846 0270 for more information.