Coronavirus Effect on Supply Chains

Coronavirus Effect on Supply Chains

The coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) is upending global container volume demand and rippling through containerized supply chains.  That's sending shockwaves to all freight transport modes, from trucking to air cargo. 

The widening impact COVID-19 is having on retail and manufacturing demand is creating the need for two importing speeds. Cargo owners such as apparel and automotive importers want to delay receiving goods for now-closed brick-and-mortar stores and production lines, whereas importers shipping personal protective equipment (PPE) and essential household consumer goods want them faster.  Against that backdrop, carriers, forwarders, port authorities, and marine terminals are warning of a cargo bottleneck if more Western importers fail to pick up containers when they arrive, causing port congestion and inland equipment shortages that will slow down the broader supply chain.

Bookmark this special page for regular updates on how the industry is responding.

News & Analysis

23 May 2022
Coastwide contract negotiations between the ILWU and West Coast waterfront employers have been put on hold, although individual committee meetings on specific issues such as worker safety will continue.
17 Nov 2021
Although US imports from Asia were down 2.4 percent in October year over year, it was the third-busiest month ever for containerized imports from Asia.
10 Nov 2021
Port managers and terminal executives in Los Angeles-Long Beach look to emergency fees on long-dwell containers and sweeper ships to vacate empty boxes as their best bet to relieve congestion amid record vessel arrivals.
08 Nov 2021
Speeding the discharge of import containers from vessels and through congested marine terminals is becoming increasingly urgent as retailers rebuild their depleted inventories, let alone stock store shelves for holiday sales.
05 Nov 2021
A clean truck fee in the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach is expected to generate more than $90 million, money that will be used in part to provide direct grants to truckers for zero-emission vehicles.
05 Nov 2021
The Biden administration’s COVID-19 vaccination and testing mandate for large employers will affect truck capacity and pricing, but questions about the extent of its impact remain.
04 Nov 2021
Port congestion at major European hubs and supply-side disruption across the regional logistics chain continues to put the brakes on factory production.
03 Nov 2021
A truck driver survey underscores the threat of potential service disruptions from an upcoming US vaccine mandate for large employers, with 36 percent of drivers showing no interest in vaccination.
02 Nov 2021
Trucking companies are seeking an exemption to the COVID-19 vaccine mandate being implemented by the US government for large employers, which they say would further disrupt already tight US trucking capacity.
29 Oct 2021
A new agreement between California and the Biden administration seeks a more unified approach and “innovative” federal financing for port infrastructure projects that could speed goods inland.
26 Oct 2021
The ongoing semiconductor shortage is reducing deliveries of new trucks in North America and threatening the addition of much-needed capacity in 2022, and perhaps beyond.
20 Oct 2021
Supply chain disruption is slowing economic growth, but “postponed” demand is expected to reemerge in 2022, keeping US freight capacity tight and transportation pricing high.
15 Oct 2021
A flood of imports into the Pacific Northwest is boosting spot truckload rates out of Seattle as shippers facing delays and intermodal container shortages seek new routes for freight moving inland.
13 Oct 2021
Even as the Biden administration works to ease US port congestion, fresh data on September imports from Asia shows stakeholders have their work cut out for them.
30 Sep 2021
The import surge in Seattle-Tacoma this past month has filled local warehouses beyond capacity, crippling the transportation supply chain in the Pacific Northwest.
24 Sep 2021
Pinched at both Asian load ports and US receiving ports, trans-Pacific carriers in August registered their fourth consecutive month of deteriorating on-time performance.
23 Sep 2021
The ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach and their terminal operators seek quick relief from congestion problems as vessel bunching reaches historic levels.
23 Sep 2021
A rapid evolution in how US shippers contract with truckload carriers is driving growth at Emerge and drawing $130 million in fresh private equity funding to its digital procurement platform.
22 Sep 2021
Chassis providers warn that only the easing of import volumes, and the resulting reversal of rising dwell times, will relieve tightness in equipment supply as production capacity is maxed out.
21 Sep 2021
Demand fueled tonnage growth at for-hire contract carriers in August, according to the American Trucking Associations, but supply chain disruption and shortages still constrain overall capacity.
20 Sep 2021
The ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach promise quick action to extend gate hours amid record cargo volumes, but their suggestions need buy-in from terminal operators, truckers, and shippers.
17 Sep 2021
Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach announce new measures and incentives to speed cargo velocity as near-record freight volumes show no signs of slowing and congestion mounts.
17 Sep 2021
Their shared experience amid COVID-19 has brought longshore labor and employers on the West and East coasts closer together and is helping the ports to handle record cargo volumes this year, terminal operators said.
15 Sep 2021
The failure of importers to move their containers from the docks to their warehouses in a timely manner is the root cause of congestion at both East and West coast ports, terminal operators say.
14 Sep 2021
Reduced harvesting in Asia has created additional demand for agricultural goods from the US and Australia, but a shortage of intra-Asia feeder ships is preventing exporters from taking full advantage.
13 Sep 2021
Iowa-based CRST is installing a telematics-based fleet management system the truckload carrier claims will benefit both drivers and shippers seeking supply chain intelligence.
10 Sep 2021
Asset providers say it will be difficult in the short term to satisfy the transportation requirements needed to handle growing cargo volumes in Southern California.
09 Sep 2021
Although monthly year-over-year import growth will be minimal during the peak season, import volumes will still be at near-record levels as they are benchmarked off of unusually large volumes in the second half of 2020.
07 Sep 2021
Less-than-truckload carrier Old Dominion Freight Line hopes to counter the threat of COVID-19 to its own employees and its customers with a financial vaccination incentive.
07 Sep 2021
When ships sit outside ports and containers are not picked up and returned quickly, that loss of effective capacity causes record spot rates, high demurrage and detention costs, and lengthening transit times.
03 Sep 2021
Los Angeles-Long Beach terminal operators are pulling out all stops to handle a record 20 million TEU of laden and empty containers this year with the peak season now in full swing.
30 Aug 2021
New data on the explosion of capacity being deployed in the Asia-US trade indicates there will likely be sufficient capacity to handle projected import volumes for the rest of the year, but the effective capacity will be reduced by port congestion in the US and Asia.
27 Aug 2021
Johnsonville Transport & Logistics, an arm of Wisconsin-based sausage giant Johnsonville, is looking to collaborate with its retail customers and other food shippers and carriers to solve truck capacity, delivery challenges.
26 Aug 2021
Schedule reliability continued to suffer in July in the eastbound trans-Pacific as carriers were challenged by port congestion issues and extra-loaders and new services that complicated cargo-handling operations at marine terminals.
26 Aug 2021
Carriers that had struggled to find ships to deploy in new services in the booming trans-Pacific say their main challenge now is to find space at West Coast terminals.
24 Aug 2021
A rising tide of late shipments in the trans-Pacific trade is tying knots in US surface transportation networks and increasing the need for safety stock.


With so many products currently subject to Trump administration tariffs, a huge portion of entries from China will not be eligible for CBP's recently announced COVID-19-related duty deferral program.

More Commentary