Container lines serving raw meat industries involved in U.S.-Asia trade are calling for an across-the-board increase in refrigerated cargo rates in order to cover higher equipment and operating costs during the traditionally slow season.

Member carriers in the Westbound Transpacific Stabilization Agreement said the recommended guideline increase of $300 per 40-foot container is to take effect January 1, 2012, and will apply to all commodity segments and origin-destination pairs.

WTSA members say the increase is needed to ensure equipment availability by covering the network costs of redeploying refrigerated containers from other trades. Refrigerated equipment tends to be diverted out of the transpacific during winter months in the U.S., which adds to operating costs in serving U.S. export shippers of agricultural and non-agricultural commodities. The problem is compounded when equipment is pulled from more lucrative markets that pay higher rates for refrigerated and other specialized equipment, WTSA members say.