MatchBack Systems COVID-19 Impact and Response  

We are closely monitoring supply chain challenges related to COVID-19 and their ramifications for the street-turn ecosystem.
Here we provide our updates and analysis on the COVID-19 impact and response.




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3/31/2020 - MatchBack Systems Export Index

Introducing MatchBack Systems Export Index

Exports are a vital component to empty repositioning for international containers.  MatchBack Systems has created the Export Index (see under Analysis section) to highlight the changes in the current market.  This index is baselined off January 2019 and contains a basket of MatchBack Systems customers in the ocean carrier, trucker and 3PL arena.

For most of 2020, exports have been trailing 2019 but we see a pick up over the next 4 weeks, getting 2020 back on par with the previous year.  Feedback from our customers is that container supply is not a current impediment.  We are tracking the YoY export data and will update this analysis on a weekly basis.

If you would like a scenario analysis for your network, you can reach us at


3/27/2020 - MatchBack Systems Import Index

MatchBack Systems first Import Freight Index

Import supply is the most significant factor for empty containers to move international and domestic export freight.  The COVID-19 pandemic has significantly impacted container supply locations, volumes and fluidity.  Along with our Import Gateway Analysis, you begin to see the overall impact and change in our Index (see under Analysis section).
We will track the weekly import volumes YoY from a basket of MatchBack Systems customers across a base of ocean carriers, 3PLs and port truckers.  We have indexed the volumes from January 2019 and will provide weekly updates on actual deliveries and, even more importantly, forecast the next several weeks.
We have seen a 34% decrease in imports YTD, but note the wave of imports planned to start in week 16.  This will likely be followed by a trough as demand dwindles from non-essential importers, like retail, and unplanned DC closures delay the reload and return of the empty container.
We will continue to share the analysis with the industry and provide container optimization opportunities for our customers.


3/23/2020 - Delivery - The Next Link in the Supply Chain to be Challenged

As China production increases and product begins to flow, will companies be able to accept the shipments?
From empty containers in NAM to production in Asia, we’ve been tracking the global supply chain flow of containers and product.  The next wave will break over the distribution centers.

Anecdotally we have heard of several businesses closing for two weeks and not accepting their deliveries.  More companies have adopted this approach in the last few days.

We are seeing a series of companies announce closures or retooling of the supply chains to move critical product only.  Amazon is accepting only “essential deliveries”; automotive and manufacturing plants are shuttering over concern for employee safety or lack of supplies.  This will further delay the unload, reposition and reload of containers.

We will continue to monitor each link of the supply chain as we move forward.


3/23/2020 - MatchBack Systems Predicts Waves, not a Steady State of Container Supply

Restarting of the global supply chain will roll through the industry in waves.  We anticipate surges, declines and delays in the supply chain.

After the Lunar New Year slowdown, there was the shuttering of Asian production to combat COVID-19 for most of February.  Next was the repositioning of empty containers from NAM and EU to support the production.

We are now preparing to see a surge as carriers deliver initial Asia supply to NAM and EU.  This surge will tax the port and trucking communities as they cope with infrastructure challenges – labor, delivery locations and even toll booths being manned.

This surge will be followed by a decline or trough as exports are loaded and additional empty containers are repositioned back to Asia.

Global supply chain delays will lengthen the period between the wave and trough as it will take months for fluidity to return to the market.  Containers will be out of position; container throughput will be lowered as facilities are slowed, closed or otherwise impacted as the fluidity of the supply chain is challenged by the global response to COVID-19. 


3/20/2020 - MatchBack Systems Gateway Analysis

This week's Gateway Analysis Highlights:

- A pick up week over week in overall imports planned, but still down 26% year over year.
- Chicago, Atlanta, Memphis, Columbus, Detroit, LA and NY/NJ show the greatest YoY negative impact for cargo flows.
- From a percent, Detroit has less than half the import container availability YoY.
- Conversely, we see imports increasing in some markets from 2019 – Omaha, Charleston and Kansas City.

3/18/2020 - China Container Volumes Seesaw on Western Recession Conditions JOC

3/17/2020 - Ports and Dray Trucks

It’s called a supply chain for a reason. 

With containers on the water, the international container supply chain focus has moved to the ports, labor availability and truckers to move the freight.  Everyone wants all the parties to have safe working conditions AND to quickly process and transport containers.  

Just as the tide of empties are now moving from NAM back to Asia, we anticipate a peak type surge of containerized freight.   The industry will have to manage expectations as there are bound to be challenges as we deal with COVID-19 restrictions.  

After the ports, labor and truckers, attention will turn to the distribution centers to ensure their ability to unload the containers to continue the free flow of containers and product.


3/16/2020 - Exports Flowing Out of Asia

Based on our discussions with carriers, 3PLs and truckers, we know that volumes are still off from projections, but all are encouraged by increased flow of materials from Asia.  Now everyone is focused on the ports to ensure there is available labor to work the vessels.  

Here’s a week over week snapshot that one of our customers provided from Asian gateways. 

Xingang:     30% recovery    → 50-55% recovery
Qingdao:     70% recovery    → 90% recovery
Ningbo:       40% recovery    → 70% recovery
Shanghai:   50% recovery    → 70-75% recovery
Xiamen:      30% recovery    → 70-80% recovery
Fuzhou:      50% recovery    → 70-80% recovery
SPRC:        30% recovery    → 70-80% recovery
Dalian:        50% recovery    → 70% recovery
Taiwan:      100% recovery   → maintain


3/13/2020 - MatchBack Systems Business Continuity Plan

Given the unique nature and health concerns sparked by COVID-19, effective 3/14/2020 MatchBack Systems will close its physical office and our team members will work from home.  Our business continuity plan ensures our customers are served without disruption while our employees and their families remain safe.

3/13/2020 -MatchBack Systems Gateway Analysis

Our Gateway Analysis shows:

- A 17% drop in imports for January and February 2020
- A 34% YoY decrease in imports since the start of the year
- In terms of import container decline, the largest swings we noted were in Chicago, Memphis, Savannah, Detroit and Atlanta.

3/12/2020 - Coronavirus Spawns Worldwide Box Repositioning Challenge FreightWaves 

3/11/2020 - Empty Containers Stacking Up at Ports

With all the blank sailings from Asia, empty containers are stacking up at the ports, particularly in LA/LB.   This has caused carriers to quickly change their strategies to manage the flow of empty containers.  Two of the most common tactics have been to embargo empty containers to locations and limiting or eliminating domestic street-turns.  

The ripple effect will be wide ranging.  We know that container balance, or more accurately, imbalance are carrier and gateway specific.  To that end, MatchBack Systems is analyzing developments by gateway and carrier.  Our customers are welcome to request customized reporting and actionable insights to help mitigate the impact on operations, including a port impact scenario analysis to determine street-turn options




3/27/2020 - MatchBack Systems Gateway Analysis


Our heat map illustrates the import impact on U.S. gateways.  The yellow areas show fewer import containers YoY.  The green areas note markets that have gained.  The larger the dot, the bigger the absolute impact.

3/27/2020 - MatchBack Systems Import Index


Weekly import volume indexed on January 2019 across a common basket of MatchBack Systems' ocean carrier, 3PL and port trucking customers.  

3/31/2020 - MatchBack Systems Export Index


Weekly export volume indexed on January 2019 across a basket of MatchBack Systems' customers in the ocean carrier, trucker and 3PL arena.