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Where Have the 40' Shipping Containers Gone?

29.09.2019 - Posted by Updated On 29.09.2019    

40' standard height shipping containers dominated the seas for many years, however in recent years they've been getting harder and harder to find in the secondary, or retail, markets. There has been a shift in the freight demand 40' standards to 40' high cubes, which obviously causes a change in production quantities. Just to clarify, 40' standard containers are 8'6" tall, and 40' high cubes are 9'6" tall.

Changes in Freight Demand

40' and 40' high cube shipping containers typically carry large, bulky items that aren't particularly heavy. Think clothing, electronics, and consumer goods. The extra foot of space in a high cube can translate into another pallet or two if the container is stuffed properly. Over an extended period of time it makes more economic sense to buy or lease 40' high cubes based on production and transportation costs alone.

Production Changes

At the start of this year, 20' and 40' high cube shipping containers dominated production, accounting for roughly 47% and 48%, respectively, of total production. Given these numbers, it's clear that the 40' containers are quickly falling out of fashion.

40' shipping container


1st Quarter 2018 Shipping Container Production


20' 40' 40'HC 45'HC Others
46.67% 4.28% 47.79% 0.38% 0.88%


What Does This Mean to the Retail Market?

Overall, there hasn't been any major impact in the retail market. Some companies and end users may have height restrictions both with where they need the container to be placed, as well as transporting it. With regards to transporting high cubes, some trucks have height restrictions due to bridge abutments and other obstructions. These companies will likely need to purchase lower trailers. If the height restriction is where the container will be placed the consumer may need to consider using two 20' containers.

The sellers on the marketplace are still actively selling 40' shipping containers, and in most markets they are still readily available, while in other markets they just aren't showing up (Denver, Colorado for example). To find 20', 40', and 40' high cube shipping containers in your area simply use the search function or navigate the map to the closest containers near you. If you do not see any containers in your area please complete the request form and someone will contact you regarding availability.

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