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When Shipping Containers Are Abandoned, the Cargo Becomes a Mystery Prize
Supply chain carnage creates opportunities for companies willing to take a chance on random goods, from cheese to used cars—and maybe even pumpkin seeds.



https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2021-11-30/business-...

Slinn is a cargo salvage buyer. His two-man operation, JS Cargo & Freight Disposal, acquires containers filled with abandoned goods that shipping lines want to get rid of. And business is booming in his line of work. Snarls in the global supply chain have left an estimated 3 million containers idling on ships queued up at ports around the world, according to Niels Larsen, president of Air & Sea North America at DSV, a global transport and logistics company.

“When a product doesn’t reach its destination for a period of time, it often loses the value that it originally had,” says Tom Enders, owner of Michigan-based Salvage Groups Inc. When that happens, customers sometimes refuse to accept the goods; other times, they simply abandon them. In either case, “shipping lines can contact a company like ours to recover as much value from it as they can,” he says.

Stranded shipments lose worth in a number of ways. Food and other perishables can spoil; seasonal merchandise such as electric fans might not reach a wholesaler’s hands before the weather turns; and machinery intended for a construction project might arrive too late for the job. Even goods that are perfectly fine can become effectively worthless if the owner’s unable to retrieve them before storage fees exceed their value. “You leave a container on the quay for six months, you don’t want to know what the bill is—it’s frightening,” says Paul Vidler, managing director of Crown Salvage in the U.K.
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