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GSCW chat recap: The future of bulk commodities market post-COVID

‘Over the past year, the bulk trucking market, both dry and liquid, has remained pretty steady’

This fireside chat recap is from Day 5 of FreightWaves’ Global Supply Chain Week. Day 5 focuses on energy, mining and chemicals. 

FIRESIDE CHAT TOPIC: What the bulk loads market is telling us about the economy

DETAILS: Zach Strickland, a FreightWaves market analyst, discusses the future of the bulk market post-COVID-19 pandemic and what to look for in 2021 with Jared Flinn of

SPEAKER: Flinn is the operating partner of

BIO: Flinn co-founded and developed a trucking logistics program,, that connects shippers, carriers and brokers together to ease the load search process. has a network of over 10,000 members that moved approximately $7 billion in commodities in 2020. 


“I just think when we look at tonnage in general, it’s a great barometer or indicator of the health of the economy. Over the past year, in the bulk market, especially in the bulk trucking market, both dry and liquid, we’ve seen it remain pretty steady. Even though COVID, we never saw it lapse. When you’re dealing with raw commodities, not finished or packaged goods, they are going to keep running through the pipeline. You’re not going to see disruptions like you do on store shelves. So on our side, it was business as normal in 2020.”

On the spike in grain exports to China post-swine flu outbreak: “China, they kind of emerged post-COVID and started buying grain. What was really interesting this fall is typically, when you get your fall harvest, your corn, soybeans, milo and some of those commodities or grains are harvested, you will see a lot of that get harvested and sold into the market, so again it gets your prices to go down because there’s an oversupply. We saw prices increasing through harvest and this has only happened two other times in the last 30 years where prices have increased during harvest.”

On what to watch in the bulk market in 2021: “I’m watching crude oil prices and diesel fuel. I think that’s really going to be an indicator. Obviously, if fuel goes up, freight rates go up, but you see a lot of your modes change from that. For your bulk commodities, most of your big modes of transportation really compete on that — I’m talking about your vessel, barge, rail and truck.” 

Clarissa Hawes

Clarissa has covered all aspects of the trucking industry for 16 years. She is an award-winning journalist known for her investigative and business reporting. Before joining FreightWaves, she wrote for Land Line Magazine and If you have a news tip or story idea, send her an email to [email protected] or @cage_writer on X, formerly Twitter.