Global trade has been disrupted since late October, when attacks on Suez-bound shipping by Houthi forces forced many companies to reconsider their shipping routes.
Many shipping companies have decided to re-route their ships around the Cape of Good Hope rather than attempt the passage, a journey which can add 14 to 21 days to the journey and significant risk of storm damage.
Doug Aldred, chief commercial officer at Flint Group, stated: “Consistent with many businesses, our global supply chain, transit times and costs have been impacted by developments in the Red Sea.
“The redirection of sea freight around the Cape of Good Hope, bypassing the Red Sea-Suez Canal route, is anticipated to lead to extended transit times, ranging from two to six weeks.
“These changes also affect other sea freight routes – notably transatlantic crossings – due to the limited availability of containers and ships.”
The company said it recognised growing concerns related to container availability and substantial increases in sea freight container costs.
Multiple sea freight carriers have introduced surcharges due to the requirement for vessels to re-route via the Cape of Good Hope and Flint Group said it continued to evaluate cost increases carefully and, where relevant, may evaluate the implementation of freight surcharges.
Arno de Groot, vice president of procurement at Flint Group, added: “As a consequence of the reduction in the number of ships docking at Red Sea and Mediterranean ports, additional freight handling via 'feeder trans-shipments’ have been necessary.
“This process involves collecting containers from smaller ports and transporting them to hubs for loading onto larger vessels, resulting in extensions to transit times of up to twenty-eight days. Finally, due to uncertain vessel schedules, ports elsewhere across the globe may encounter congestion.
“Our global procurement and customer service teams are working diligently to mitigate the impact of the current sea freight disruption by proactively tracking incoming materials, reviewing stock levels, and adjusting the mode of transportation to recover delays.
“Our top priority is to ensure customers have the inks and coatings required to run their sites smoothly. We will update our customers as the situation evolves and continue to do everything we can to minimise any adverse impacts.”
Flint Group said it would inform its customers of any potential impacts to existing and future orders. The company recommended that customers proactively plan stock levels in anticipation of increased lead times and said its local sales and service teams stand ready to support.