Container prices have again jumped by up to $1500 a unit, following continued tension in the Middle East.
Attacks by Houthi rebels on shipping passing through the Red Sea have seen large container lines, such as CMA CGM, MSC, Maersk and Hapag Lloyd divert ships around South Africa
That has added 10-15 days to the journey to Australia and Asia.
Container xChange chief executive Christian Roeloffs, Hamburg, Germany, said freight rates had tripled, in the last month.
"However, it's crucial to remember our supply chains currently hold a surplus capacity of over 6 million twenty foot equivalent (TEU) containers, accumulated over the last two years due to a demand deficit," Mr Roeloffs said.
But Mr Roeloffs said the degree of impact hinged on the duration of the Red Sea crisis - "should it persist for an extended period, and the excess capacity continues to be absorbed, we could potentially face serious challenges.
"Drawing a comparison to the Ever Given situation, where disruption occurred during a period of extreme difficulty in securing capacity and historic peak demand, rates skyrocketed to 10 times pre-pandemic levels."
Grains and pulse exporter Agri Oz managing director Francois Darcas, Melbourne, said rates to the Mediterranean and Europe were up from between US $50-1500, per container.
That equated to $US 20-60 a metric tonne.
"Beyond the large increase, a big problem is totally uncertain transit times, as shipping lines need to rework their transhipment points, creating congestion in some ports," Mr Darcas said.
"It's a mess, with some shipping lines unable to tells us an estimated arrival date - customers are not happy."
That would probably have the impact of slowing down of sales, or a reduction of volumes, as many customers will "wait and see" and look for alternatives, he said.
As Red Sea tensions escalate, Australian livestock industries are also on high alert.
Episode 3 grains analyst Andrew Whitelaw said freight rates for containers had "massively increased" recently, although not by as much as during the COVID-19 pandemic.
He said that was due to shipping now going around southern Africa, leading to container shortages, due to the travel delays.
"The last few years have been full of supply chain disruptions from COVID to the Evergreen Suez blockage, and it seems that trade flows will be disrupted for at least January and February," he said.
"Whilst container rates are nowhere near the highs of 2020 to 2022, the reaction has been strong at a monthly increase of 110 per cent."
Meanwhile, Mr Whitelaw said farmers seeking fertiliser supplies should be alert, but not alarmed, at the ongoing unrest, as it also has the potential to disrupt phosphate imports.
"Egypt and Morocco are major supplies of phosphates, and with China restricting exports, they are more important," he said.
The Chinese had "sporadically" restricted exports during the past three years, in order to bring down the domestic price to encourage their farmers to use more.
"Using MAP (Mono-Ammonium Phosphate) as a an example, typically more than 60 per cent would come from China but it can be up to 100pc," he said.
Australia supplied most of its own needs, but at peak times phosphate was imported, Mr Whitelaw said.
"There are no more Chinese export inspections, applications or permits, until at least the end of February," he said.
"So that means Australian suppliers will go elsewhere, Egypt and Morocco, and the shipments would typically go through the Red Sea."
Imports were likely to ramp up in the next few months, in time for sowing.
"I'm not saying there will be any shortage, or anything, because we do produce phosphate in Australia, at Phosphate Hill (Qld)," he said.
Incitec Pivot's Phosphate Hill plant has an annual capacity of 975,000 tonnes of ammonium and phosphate fertilisers.
Mr Whitelaw said it would take longer to get phosphate from the middle-east.
"The worry is fertiliser companies will use this as an excuse to tell customers to go out there and buy, because they are going to be short - that's not the case, it's still coming, it just might be delayed," he said.
The cost of the added travel time to get product to Australia would be less than getting it from the port to the farm, he said.