US Supply chains on the brink: Strikes and insolvency are spelling disaster


Supply chains worldwide are on high alert as the insolvency of Yellow Freight and the looming threat of UPS strikes in the United States send shockwaves through global trade. With both events unfolding simultaneously, the implications for global supply chains are profound, affecting domestic logistics and European shippers, with supply chains extending deep into the US.

Yellow Freight Insolvency: A Blow to Domestic and International Trade

Yellow Freight, a prominent LTL trucking company in the US with a significant market share of approximately 9%, has declared insolvency. This development results from a combination of factors, including financial difficulties dating back to 2009, compounded by the disruption caused by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Yellow Freight received a substantial $700 million emergency loan under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES) as part of the government’s efforts to support the company. US taxpayers now hold a 29.6% equity stake in the struggling firm.

The collapse of Yellow Freight poses severe challenges for domestic supply chains in the US. The company’s insolvency will lead to a substantial loss of capacity in the trucking sector, causing delays and price increases in the movement of goods within the country. As shippers scramble to find alternative carriers, the trucking industry faces a potential capacity crunch, leaving businesses in various sectors struggling to secure timely and cost-effective transportation solutions.

Impact on European Shippers with US Supply Chains

European companies with supply chains that extend deep into the US are also bracing for significant disruptions. Industries such as automotive, electronics, and manufacturing heavily rely on efficient and reliable logistics to connect their operations across continents. With its extensive domestic network, Yellow Freight was a key partner for many European shippers, facilitating the movement of critical components and finished products across the US.

Now, European shippers are facing uncertainties in their transatlantic operations. Lead times for critical components from the US could be significantly impacted, creating production delays and inventory shortages in European facilities. As these shippers seek alternatives, premium logistics providers will likely see increased demand for their services.

Looming Threat of UPS Strikes: Global Ripple Effects

Adding to the supply chain turmoil is the potential for UPS strikes. As the most prominent logistics integrator in the US, UPS handles an astounding 25 billion parcels annually for American citizens and businesses. If a strike were to occur, the repercussions would extend far beyond US borders, affecting global supply chains that heavily rely on UPS services.

European shippers exporting to the US would also bear the brunt of UPS strikes. With major trade lanes relying on UPS services for timely deliveries, European exporters risk facing delivery delays and potential spoilage of perishable goods. Moreover, the heightened demand for alternative carriers could lead to skyrocketing freight costs, eroding profit margins for businesses on both sides of the Atlantic.

In the past, a UPS strike in 1997 had a profound impact on the US supply chains. Freight forwarders and UPS competitors were overwhelmed, causing widespread disruptions and strains on the air cargo industry, which sought to compensate for the loss of UPS capacity.

In comparison to 1997, new security measures can cause significant delays when transporting goods. It is now crucial that shippers are starting the validation process for the TSA Known Shipper Program, or face further delays.

How is premium logistics stepping up to support the industry?

The simultaneous insolvency of Yellow Freight and the potential UPS strikes in the US are creating a perfect storm that threatens to disrupt global supply chains. The impact is far-reaching, from domestic logistics within the US to European shippers with extensive supply chains in America.

As businesses scramble for solutions, premium logistics providers may offer some relief, but the magnitude of these events demands immediate and strategic actions from all stakeholders to navigate the challenging period ahead.

If you are concerned about the ongoing events in the US or would like to speak to our team about how they can support you, they are available 24/7 at +1 (855) 738 6564 or via email at

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