Maersk Warns Shipping Delays May Spoil Food, Medical Shipments to Russia

Customs authorities in the EU and UK are inspecting all shipping containers headed to Russia, causing delays

The container shipping giant Maersk warned Wednesday that shipping delays caused by increased customs inspections as a result of Western sanctions might spoil or damage food and medical shipments that are bound for Russia.

Maersk announced on Tuesday that it was cutting service to Russia to comply with sanctions but is allowing exemptions for food, medical, and humanitarian goods. But now the Denmark-based company is warning against bookings for the exempted goods due to delays.

“We do, however, warn caution on still placing bookings for perishable cargo due to significant delays in key transshipment hubs that may damage the cargo,” Maersk said on its website.

Maersk said that customs authorities in the EU and UK are inspecting all Russia-bound containers that transit their ports to identify sanctioned and restricted shipments. Because of the increased inspections, Maersk sees a “significant risk to our customers’ perishable cargo.”

The shipping company said that the sanctions were not only affecting Russia. “This is a global impact, and not only limited to trade with Russia,” it said.

The shipping delays are an example of how US sanctions can cause food and medicine shortages in targeted countries despite having humanitarian exemptions. In many cases, companies don’t want to bother dealing with the red tape of doing business with heavily sanctioned countries and cut off service altogether.

Author: Dave DeCamp

Dave DeCamp is the news editor of, follow him on Twitter @decampdave.