DAT Solutions: Reefer rates rise for second straight week

November 21, 2018

Special to Land Line


Shippers are moving freight ahead of the holidays, with load posts on DAT MembersEdge up 7 percent last week. Truck posts were down 2 percent, which pushed load-to-truck ratios higher across the board.

National average spot truckload rates reflected the stronger market:

  • Reefer rates: $2.47 per mile, up 2 cents.
  • Van rates: $2.08 per mile, down 1 cent.
  • Flatbed rates: $2.41 per mile, down 2 cents.

Let’s look at the Trendlines.

Reefer rate trends

Spot reefer volumes rose last week, with load posts up 12 percent while truck posts increased 4 percent. The national average reefer load-to-truck ratio climbed from 7.0 to 7.5 loads per truck.

Pass the potatoes

Thanksgiving leads to more reefer demand and last week we got higher traffic from the usual places. The Central Valley in California (carrots, celery, grapes, lettuce), western Michigan (poultry and produce), and southern Idaho (potatoes) were hot markets for reefer freight. The reefer load-to-truck ratio in Twin Falls topped 40 last week, meaning there were 40 reefer load posts for every truck post.

Miami heat

Surprise! Reefer volumes nearly doubled out of Miami last week, and the average rate on the lane to Atlanta jumped 22 cents to $1.52 per mile – low, but we’ll take it. Stronger volumes out of Miami also contributed to the biggest drop of the week among major reefer lanes: Philly to Miami fell 29 cents to $2.15 per mile.

Van trends

Van load posts increased 7 percent while truck posts declined 4 percent last week. The national average van load-to-truck ratio was 5.3, a 12 percent increase from the previous week. That’s the largest weekly increase in the van load-to-truck ratio since June.

Driving rate

Demand for trucks pushed spot van rates higher in key retail freight markets, including Los Angeles ($2.91 per mile, up 11 cents), Memphis ($2.30 per mile, up 2 cents), and Buffalo ($2.57 per mile, up 4 cents).

Good news

The good news for truckers is that rates have stabilized, but it’s looking like this November will be weaker than a year ago. Nearly one year after the ELD mandate took effect, shippers are making more of an effort to secure contract rates and focus on better planning to avoid the hefty prices of last year’s retail season.

Flatbed trends

Flatbed load posts increased 3 percent last week while truck posts declined 3 percent. The national flatbed load-to-truck ratio was up from 17.4 to 18.5 loads per truck.

Ready to roll

Flatbed rates have been in a steady decline since summer ended but there are pockets of higher demand. Texas should start to pick up in the new year, so keep your eyes on flatbed rates in the first quarter of 2019.

Rates are derived from DAT RateView, which provides real-time reports on prevailing spot market and contract rates, as well as historical rate and capacity trends. All reported rates include fuel surcharges.

For the latest spot market load availability and rate information, visit the MyMembersEdge.com load board or tune in to Land Line Now. You can get all of the latest rate information at dat.com per industry-trends per trendlines, comment on the DAT Freight Talk blog, or join us on Facebook. On Twitter you can tweet your questions to us @LoadBoards and have your questions answered by DAT industry analyst Mark Montague.


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