Freight volume plunges amid COVID-19 outbreak as industry adjusts

Logistics Park Kansas City
Posted at 10:04 PM, Apr 09, 2020
and last updated 2020-04-10 01:00:50-04

EDGERTON, Kan. — Although there's a steady stream of activity at Logistics Park Kansas City, one of the four intermodal parks in the metro area, but business is hurting.

The OEC Group, a company that facilitates international shipping, is feeling a significant economic pinch.

"We're feeling the effects of this more than we have anything else," OEC Group Kansas City Branch Manager Keith Sarnell said.

Sarnell told 41 Action News on Thursday freight volume is down close to 40% amid the COVID-19 crisis.

"We've seen some of the ports (in Houston and Baltimore) close down for a day or so," Sarnell said. "We've seen some of the local warehouses that have remained operational but now down to skeleton crews."

With an increased demand for goods, companies are adapting on the fly.

"Our distribution networks made really quick adjustments as the demand for products that were used at schools and restaurants decreased sharply almost overnight," Missouri Department of Agriculture Director Chris Chinn said during an April 4 news conference. "All the while, the demand for the supplies increased in our grocery stores. We continue to make adjustments and get better every day."

Sarnell said the current crisis will make a deeper impact on cargo traveling through the Kansas City region in the weeks to come, but he believes the industry is prepared for it.

"We’ve become an industry of curveballs," Sarnell said. "Between the port lockouts and the steamship line bankruptcies, as well as the China trade war, we're dealing with this and adjusting with these things all the time."