Source: UNCTAD. Containerized trade in TEU from UNCTAD Review of Maritime Transport, 2021, Table 1.8.
About 70% of the value of international trade is carried by maritime transportation. Of this share, about two-thirds are carried by containers, particularly because most high-value commercial goods are containerized. This implies an average value of trade of about $54,500 per TEU or $109,000 per FEU.
However, such figures must be taken with caution. First, 40-foot containers (two TEUs or one FEU), both in their standard and “high cube” form, are the most common containers, accounting for 68% of all TEUs, while 20-foot containers (one TEU) accounts for 26%. Second, there is a wide range of goods carried in containers, each with a different commercial value. Third, 20-foot and 40-foot containers are generally used to carry different types of commercial cargoes. 20-foot containers usually carry ponderous goods of lower value (weighting out), while 40-foot containers carry higher volume and high-value goods (cubing out). Further, there is a separate class of high-cube forty-foot containers that tend to carry even more valuable cargo because of more available volume. Last, refrigerated containers (reefers) carry even more valuable cargoes on a per TEU basis.