With 2018 coming to a close, US trucking companies are expecting to see freight volumes remain steady if not increase heading into 2019. One factor leading to a rise in truckload shipments can be linked to increased tariffs on Chinese goods by the US. The uptick in tariffs can be traced back September of 2018 when President Trump raised tariffs to 10% on 200 billion worth of imported Chinese products. This news immediately impacted and shifted peak shipping seasons on land and by sea in the US.
As it stands now, the January 1st tariff deadline was put on hold meaning the tariff increases to 25% on Chinese goods will be delayed until March. Companies in the US had begun preparations for tariff surges by increasing their amount of products loaded/distributed on container ships, hoping they would arrive before the New Year’s deadline. William Cassidy of the JOC believes the postponement of the tariff may lead to more spring and summer retail goods being imported in the first quarter. Generally, shippers and carriers experience a lull after the holiday season, but if Cassidy’s prediction holds true the beginning of 2019 will be extremely busy. Tariff implications aside, let’s explore other trends analysts predict will catch on in the coming year.
- The time to purchase used trucks will be the first quarter of 2019 according to Dean Croke of Freightwaves. He expects prices to drop as much as 40% in the first quarter and even with favorable tax law changes in depreciation, the level of new truck orders was high in 2018.
- Electric and autonomous trucks will make strides in the marketplace but are still years away from full integration.
- Drivers will continue to choose to drive for small fleets says Jeff Tucker, CEO of Tucker Company Worldwide. This trend is driven from the idea that it makes it easier to work for yourself.
- Artificial Intelligence also will see improvements to make freight matching more efficient.
- The Fresh Produce Challenge – Jaco Booyens, co-chairman of Eden Green Technology, states that Farmers number one headache is transportation of their produce. It often takes 7-10 days to get produce from the farm to a retail shelf, losing more than 60% of its nutritional value along the way. Improvements in logistics and data will change the fresh produce market.
While it may seem far-fetched that all of these trends and forecasts will be 100% accurate, it can be safe to assume that we’re just around the corner for some. In the meantime, it is best to prepare for the inevitable and keep an eye on these trends and many more.