As a part of our on-going COVID-19 coverage, we’ll be providing breaking news, resources, and insight into the pandemic’s impact on the industry.
Manufacturing And Produce Season To Impact May Volume
Transfix has a team of people in charge of closely monitoring national trends, specifically tracking key indicators that impact both freight volumes and rates. From what we have seen, we believe that produce season will begin to impact rates as early as this week in Florida and Southern California.
The 2020 produce season (May through June) will be softer than normal but rates will still rise in produce markets, albeit not as sharply as they did in 2019. Government indices and third-party data that we analyze have indicated strong movement of oranges out of Florida, strawberries out California, and avocados out of South America. Although farming data reveals a bountiful produce season, farms of all sizes will likely not be moving as much volume due to restraints placed on restaurants, schools and other outlets. – Justin Maze, Senior Carrier Account Manager at Transfix
While a slight uptick in outbound rates from markets in the southern US and California is a seasonal occurrence, manufacturing volume represents a new variable this May. Twenty five states have already announced they will ease stay at home orders and begin re-opening, a fact that will, directly and indirectly, impact manufacturing volume. While consumer confidence remains at an all-time low, manufacturing is expected to slowly reopen throughout May. Currently, domestic manufacturing is at its lowest levels since 1946, but the industry will soon receive a shot in the arm with U.S. automakers hoping to begin production as early as May 18th.
As a digital freight broker, Transfix remains well-positioned to provide capacity during these turbulent times. Our carrier network was specifically developed to provide flexibility in tight circumstances such as those brought about by COVID-19 and to regions impacted by seasonal swings in freight volume.
Despite COVID-19 Pandemic, Freight Volume Now Within 8% of 2019 Levels
National freight volume continues it’s slow, but steady march back towards typical spring levels. Freightwaves Outbound Tender Volume Index illustrates the methodical rebound since the second week of April.
Seth Holm, Senior Research Analyst for the Freight Intel Group at Freightwaves, shares Maze’s assertion that major U.S. auto suppliers’ May 18th target date could represent a major shift for the freight market in the coming months. On Saturday Holm framed the automakers impact on the domestic market in this way:
It is not that the auto industry moves a high percentage of domestic freight. But auto producers are well-positioned to create the blueprint for a wider manufacturing reopening. The strong union presence of the UAW and other unions may be able to secure cleaner and safer work environments, as well as enough protective equipment. Also, the inherent structure of auto plants makes them better suited for working through COVID-19 for a couple reasons. First, the plants are highly automated and workers use heavy machinery, which means they typically are already wearing gloves; secondly, auto plants are much less dense than say an ecommerce fulfillment warehouse or meat processing plant. It is our belief that auto producers can lead the way towards a manufacturing and industrial reopening.
The Transfix team will be monitoring the impact of manufacturers reopening and the subsequent impact it will have on regional and national rates. As a company, we remain committed to providing critical services to our customers during this crucial time. For more on COVID-19’s impact on the freight market, please refer to our website, blog, social channels, and via email.