An Auction and Marketplace for Shipping and Cargo Containers

Surplus Shipping Containers

29.04.2012 - Posted by Updated On 29.04.2012    

“I can see shipping containers stacked three high for miles, with all this surplus I should be able to find a container for a cheap price!”

On a fairly regular basis we receive a phone call or email looking for a inexpensive shipping container and stating something similar to this phrase, and we have the unfortunate job of explaining to the client that this isn’t the case.

Yes, there are containers stacked in depots around the world, but a vast majority of these cargo containers are not for sale.  Let’s look at the numbers:

  • It’s estimated that there are somewhere between 11 million and 17 million shipping containers around the world.  The largest owners of the containers are shipping lines such as Maersk, Hamburg Sued, COSCO, and container leasing companies like Textainer, Sea Cube, and Blue Sky Intermodal.
  • A majority of the world’s containers are made in China, and in 2008 these factories all but stopped container production.  This caused a severe shortage of containers available to all levels of the global market (source: Harrison Consulting).
  • Due to the on-going global financial concerns and shortage of available containers many shipping lines and leasing companies have extended the life span of their containers.  This allows them to utilize the containers longer, but it also means that there are fewer containers available in the secondary/retail market.
Shipping container production

Many of the containers that can be seen in depots and terminals are either in route to their final destination, or are waiting to be stuffed and sent on to their next location.  Think of the depot as a parking lot at your local shopping mall; very few, if any, of the cars in the parking lot are for sale and none of them “live” in the parking lot.

The next question is typically, “how can I find out if any containers are for sale?”  The answer to this question isn’t always clear.  In some cases the container depot may know of some cheap shipping containers that are for sale, and may be able to broker a deal for you.  However, this isn’t always the case.  It’s best to search online for a local storage company, or use a site like has established relationships with shipping lines, container leasing companies, and large and small container trading companies throughout the United States and around the world.  If you don’t see a container listed in your area, chances are that our staff can find one for you at a bargain price.

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