• North America Client Advisory – Coronavirus Outbreak

    Last Update 4/29:

    In an effort to help everyone understand the supply chain impacts from COVID-19, we have compiled a selection of current insights from the marketplace. These have been assembled by our experts with our global view of supply chain data.


    As the market has settled into safe-at-home and looks to reopen the economy in May and June, there is less volatility in the North American transportation market. As such, the cadence of this report will be weekly, on Wednesday for the foreseeable future.


    A Summary of Government Affairs related to COVID-19:

    HOS Emergency declarations in US and Canada

    Note that it is necessary to properly describe the freight to the driver. FMCSA HOS relief ends May 15

    Stay at Home/Shelter in Place orders

    Globally, stay-at-home orders are varied. Vessel volumes to North America are again settling back and the recently arriving vessels from China may be seeking warehousing due to most markets still In stay-at-home status. Essential goods continue to flow as transportation and logistics continue to fall under CRITICAL INFRASTRUCTURE DURING COVID-19, and that executive orders are often similar to this guidance.

    US Northern and Southern Border Restrictions

    While travel on both the Northern and Southern borders has been restricted for passengers and visitors, freight continues to flow relatively unimpeded at this time.

    CDC Guidance on Truck Drivers traveling to New York region

    CDC issued guidance for truck drivers making deliveries to the New York region clarifying that if they follow guidelines to minimize exposure they do not need to self-quarantine for 14 days. This guidance may be extended to other areas as states continue to put travel restrictions in place from certain areas.

    Truckload (TL) freight | Less Than Load (LTL) | Intermodal (IMDL) shipping | Cross Border |Global Ocean and Air | Robinson Fresh



    Emerging insights

    The following items are emerging and have the possibility of more states adopting similar initiatives.

    Utah data collection: Utah's recently launched a data collection initiative for cars and trucks entering the state has been amended to exclude commercial truck drivers. Governor Executive order link is here and FAQs are here.

    COVID-19 state and provincial notice resources: National Governors Assoc, Land Line Magazine, ATAHub, Multistate’s very detailed US State document and the Government of Canada’s Outbreak updated with state and local regulation and strategies

    • Increasing messaging from states toward re-opening
    • State and local level details for schools, mass gatherings, businesses and bars and restaurants and face covering requirements in tabs 2 and 4 of the Multistate workbook

    Back to work: We are seeing some businesses that were closed due to COVID-19 starting to reopen this week and next. Most notable are suppliers to the auto industry.

    U.S. exports of certain PPE to Canada and Mexico are exempt from export restrictions and may immediately export. However, a Letter of Attestation (LOA) is required. As exports to Canada do not require an AES filing, the driver will need to present this letter to CBP at export in order to avoid delays. For exports to Mexico, the LOA will be submitted with the export clearance by the customs broker.

    Truckload (TL) Freight

    • Dwell times at many warehouses continue to be very long as stringent guidelines slow processes.
    • Diesel pricing is predicted to drop to $2.14 per gallon on average in the 3Q of 2020. This would be a 14% decline from current average of $2.48 per gallon. Source: EIA
    • Trucking continues to perform and is flowing freely across states and national borders and in and out of all markets.
    • COVID-19 state and provincial notice resources: National Governors Assoc, Land Line Magazine, ATAHub
    • CHR has ready access to capacity as our contract carrier communities serving the private and for hire non-essential goods segments are seeking freight in the essential goods segments.
    • Consider having sanitizer available and washrooms clean and well stocked with soap and paper towels. CDC guidance to persons involved in truck driving into area of widespread community COVID-19


    USA Refrigerated Truckload (TL)

    • Lanes and volumes continue to change in a fluid manner depending on industry, geography, and equipment type. For example, reefer markets are being impacted in the upper Midwest as significant volumes disappear as a result of pork and turkey processing plant shutdowns impacted by COVID-19 outbreaks in South Dakota and Minnesota.
    • Reefer capacity may benefit from projected lower Y/Y volumes of Mother’s Day flower sales
    • Early weeks of the produce season will demand less of reefer capacity due to lower demand from restaurant, schools and food services
    • Current annual shift of produce growing regions from Yuma, AZ to Salinas, CA is complete. The Salinas, CA region will continue to produce Strawberries, finish off Citrus and start producing Cherries next week. We are anticipating adequate truck availability this week
    • Corn and Melons will continue to lead the start of Produce Season for Southern to Central Florida. We see a slight shortage of truck availability in this region but not enough to effect the overall market

    Less Than Load (LTL) 

    • Week 16 volumes were similar to week 14 and 15. It seems the market may have settled at current levels. LTL carriers are hoping this is the “bottom” of the cycle.
    • CEO’s from LTL carriers YRC Worldwide, UPS and FedEx are participants in the President’s “Great American Economic Revival Industry Groups".
    • Most carriers operations and compensation labor force reductions have taken place across the board.
    • Carriers’ remain “business as usual” in regard to pricing. Some delays in bid response have been noted due to pricing departments be right sized to match falling demand
    • "Touchless” pick and delivery: No signing of shipping documents. Shipper/consignee have same responsibility for OS&D notes on BOL or carrier web portal and driver should note in handheld.

    Intermodal (IMDL) shipping

    • Railroad on-time performance remains very high across companies with percentages between high 80’s and mid-high 90’s.
    • Capacity is broadly available and striving to meet short lead time requests
    • Dray carrier pricing discipline remains with some concession for long term volume awards

    Cross Border


    Intra Canada and Canada–USA border insights

    • A temporary certificate issued by the Transportation of Dangerous Goods Directorate for the transport of hand sanitizer.
    • Load weight restrictions have be relaxed for certain essential goods for areas of Saskatchewan and Ontario where frost line weight restrictions limit load weights.
    • BC heading east volumes remain muted and unchanged largely attributed to low import volumes
    • Market has capacity across all provinces
    • Efforts to ensure facilities and services are available to truck drivers. Source: Trucknews.com
    • North and Southbound crossings at both Detroit-Windsor and Niagara/Fort Erie-Buffalo remain at 24/7 operations for commercial traffic
    • Other crossings we recommend checking the following resources to have the most current schedules as some have reduced operating hours:
    • Canadian Trucking Alliance (CTA) suggests truck drivers carry an essential worker confirmation letter.
    • Public Health Agency of Canada requires commercial drivers to wear masks, but not quarantine.

    Mexico–USA border insights:

    • Mexico’s Health Department issued shelter in place recommendations spanning the country through May 30.
    • Similar to the United States, Mexico has defined companies as either essential or non-essential (An example is components to an essential industry being labeled non-essential). Link to Government of Mexico – In Spanish
    • The essential business list is very similar to that of the United States. One major exception is that only non-alcoholic beverages are considered essential (Alcoholic beverages are considered non-essential).
    • Essential goods flowing north exceeds volumes of southbound goods, leaving capacity to be repositioned in order to meet demand. As a result, northbound transportation costs are rising due to these capacity repositioning expenses from Laredo into Mexico.
    • Customs and border crossings in both directions are flowing well.


    Global Ocean and Air

    • Demand for importing Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and test kits on the Trans-Pacific remains high. As air freight capacity is tight, more shippers are utilizing expedited FCL (full container load) and LCL (less than container load) services for cost savings. To learn more about these services reach out to your account rep or connect with us here.
    • Clarifications on the exemption process for U.S. exports of PPE can be found here..
    • Due to continued increase in air freight rates, importers are starting to consider expedited ocean programs for PPE related materials. Shippers/importers involved with these products should check with CHR contacts for expedited options.
    • Carries have started to announce Void/Blank sailings due to importers canceling bookings and/or pushing orders out into the summer months, as volume demands will come down.
    • Air capacity from Europe and China to the USA is constrained with passenger flights curtailed, even with some empty passenger aircraft being used for cargo.
    • As more non-essential companies shut down temporarily, general demand for air cargo is down, but lack of capacity is keeping rates high in all trade lanes.
    • (PPE) and COVID-19 test kits are being produced in China. Chinese customs continue to evaluate and adjust export regulations for PPE. As such, shippers/importers involved with these products should check with CHR contacts on navigating the new export regulation of these products.

    Robinson Fresh robinson fresh logo

    Robinson Fresh, a division of C.H. Robinson, is is fully operational with no current service disruptions. Neither our international supply capabilities from Central and South America nor our domestic supply has been impacted at this time. Inventories are adequate, our distribution capabilities are fully functioning, and our sales and supply chain experts continue open lines of communication with growers and customers. Given our flexible supply strategy, we continue to meet the needs of customers inquiring about products and supply chain solutions.

    That said and as to be expected, there has been a decrease in the amount of produce sold in the first half of April this year. We continue to see SKU rationalization in the retail vertical as retailers work to better manage inventory and distribution capacity.

    While there has been significant swings in ordering patterns with larger retailers. Demand continues to struggle to find the new “normal,” making it difficult to project accurately. In addition, direct store delivery requests have also been highly variable with some retailers pushing hard in this area while others have closed their programs and shifted resources elsewhere. Current supply lines are being closely monitored:

    Current supply lines are being closely monitored:

    • Mexico has moved to shelter in place. We are in close communication with our growers/suppliers in the country regarding the potential impacts on harvest and shipping capabilities.
    • The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has released COVID-19 daily round-up releases to help share the agency’s on-going response effort to the outbreak. Please see here for the news release
    • Following industry recommendations, the State Department announced they are taking additional steps to increase processing of H-2 visa holders through consulates around the world. In particular, they are waiving the interview requirement for first-time and returning H-2 applicants who have no potential ineligibility. In addition, the State Department is expanding the period in which returning workers may qualify for an interview waiver from 12 months to 48 months. Guidance on this and other H-2 questions can be found on USDA H-2A webpage along with a FAQ document provided by the Department of State.

    We will be maintaining our cadence of market insight publications in an effort to keep you informed through this dynamic freight environment. For other client advisories, please review our Client Advisory page.

    In this time of extreme difficulty for predicting the economic recovery and transportation response, we offer a quote from Prof. Yossi Sheffi from MIT’s Center for Transportation and Logistics on an April 14th webinar, “You can’t really predict. You can only react very quickly.” We Invite our clients to engage your C.H. Robinson or TMC commercial representative for collaborative strategies that offer quick and effective response.

    Thank you for being a valued customer. If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact your C.H. Robinson or TMC commercial representative for further information.