DAT Solutions: Spot reefer rates rebound; vans next?

November 14, 2018

Special to Land Line


The reefer segment is driving demand on DAT MembersEdge, and rates are responding. The national average spot reefer rate was up 4 cents to $2.45 per mile last week, buoyed by a run-up to Thanksgiving and higher load counts in key produce markets out West.

Van volumes and rates may be next. With Black Friday around the corner, the national average van rate held steady at $2.09 per mile and volumes were higher in major retail freight markets in the Midwest.

Let’s look at the Trendlines.

Reefer trends
The number of reefer load posts rose 9 percent while truck posts fell 5 percent nationally last week. The national average reefer load-to-truck ratio was up 4 percent to 7.0.

Wild West
Higher reefer load counts in Nogales, Ariz.; Fresno, Calif.; Los Angeles; and Sacramento, Calif., created opportunities for truckers. Los Angeles outbound reefer freight averaged $3.13 per mile, up 8 cents compared to the previous week, and Denver jumped 10 cents to $1.76 per mile.

Hot lanes
Rates on several reefer lanes out West rose substantially.

  • Nogales to Dallas was up 41 cents to $2.59 per mile (avocados on the move).
  • Sacramento to Los Angeles jumped 24 cents to $3.00 per mile, a strong southbound rate.
  • Fresno to Denver added 20 cents to $3.18 per mile.

Them apples
In the Midwest, reefer volumes sharply decreased in Chicago ($2.96 per mile, unchanged) and Grand Rapids, Mich. ($3.37 per mile, up 1 cent), a sign that apple-shipping season is winding down.

Van trends
The number of van load posts dipped 5 percent while truck posts increased 4 percent last week. After a 10 percent increase the previous week, the national average van load-to-truck ratio slipped 9 percent to 4.7 loads per truck last week.

Going East: An influx of van freight into California ports in recent weeks is now moving east and showing up as rising outbound volumes from Chicago; Columbus, Ohio; and Memphis, Tenn. There appears to be ample capacity to soak it up, which is keeping rates in check.

L.A. story
The main driver of van demand continues to be Los Angeles. Spot rates out of L.A. averaged 4 percent higher last week and are about 8 percent higher over the past month. Other than a small bump from Seattle, L.A. is the only rising major van market in the U.S. Let’s look at some lanes.

  • Los Angeles to Atlanta jumped 20 cents to $2.43 per mile.
  • Los Angeles to Denver increased 19 cents to $3.40 per mile.
  • Los Angeles to Phoenix added 14 cents to $3.56 per mile.

Tri-haul of the week: L.A.-Dallas-Albuquerque-L.A.
Los Angeles has been hot for van freight lately but return trips to L.A. almost always pay less. For instance, L.A. to Dallas – a 1,140-mile haul – averaged $2.54 per mile last week while Dallas to L.A. averaged just $1.10 per mile. A MembersEdge tri-haul could improve your revenue:

Dallas to Albuquerque, N.M., averaged $2.58 per mile and Albuquerque to Los Angeles averaged $1.61 per mile last week. The mileage is almost exactly the same, but picking up a load in Albuquerque would boost your rate per loaded mile by 32 cents and add $562 for the round trip.

Tri-haul of the week chart
DAT solutions Tri-haul of the week 11-14-18

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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