Two steps forward, one step back: Spot market van, reefer rates retreat in last week after gains

user-gravatar

The spring freight season thus far has present a “kind of a two steps forward, one-step back week-to-week” situation, notes DAT’s Ken Harper. After volume and rate gains across van, reefer and flat segments the prior week, this past week has seen van loads flat for volume. “But more trucks were posted on the DAT load board,” Harper adds, “and the result was a give-back of 4 cents in rates compared to last week, when van rates rose 7 cents.”

Reefer rates slipped 2 cents themselves after an 11-cent surge the previous week, so the national average is still 9 cents ahead compared to April. Outbound rates rose in Los Angeles and Fresno, signaling a seasonal shift for reefer carriers. There is also an increase in loads available at border crossings in McAllen, Texas, and Nogales, Ariz. The Nogales-Tucson area offered 18 loads per truck last week, and rates were up as well. Atlanta is still the top market for outbound reefer loads, and Houston is a strong number two. Expect a spike in volume and rates for reefers in the next few days, as grocery chains stock up on meat and fresh produce for the Memorial Day weekend.Reefer rates slipped 2 cents themselves after an 11-cent surge the previous week, so the national average is still 9 cents ahead compared to April. Outbound rates rose in Los Angeles and Fresno, signaling a seasonal shift for reefer carriers. There is also an increase in loads available at border crossings in McAllen, Texas, and Nogales, Ariz. The Nogales-Tucson area offered 18 loads per truck last week, and rates were up as well. Atlanta is still the top market for outbound reefer loads, and Houston is a strong number two. Expect a spike in volume and rates for reefers in the next few days, as grocery chains stock up on meat and fresh produce for the Memorial Day weekend.

Load volume dropped sharply out of Miami last week, and rates followed. The rate to Miami out of Atlanta is decent, but the return is a killer, at just $1.54 on average last week. Opportunities to cut the return in two are plentiful, but could add an extra day to the round-trip. The graphic below details the 250 miles that would be added with a load to Charleston from Miami, and from there to Atlanta, based on rate averages last week.

Atlanta-to-Miami-trihaul-may-19-2016

Reefer freight is starting the seasonal/regional move from southeast to southwest, since Florida’s harvest season ended a little early this year. For reefers on the West Coast, there’s a great roundtrip opportunity between L.A. and Phoenix. The average rate is $2.11 per mile, and there is lots of freight in both directions. Doing the round twice back to back, over three days, could make the best use of your time.

As noted above, van rates dropped 3 cents per mile last week, but they’re still 4 cents per mile higher than the average for April. More loads moved out of Los Angeles, Memphis and Columbus, which is a good sign. Outbound rates fell in Columbus, but they may turn around this week. Rising rates in L.A. and Stockton, Calif., could be related to produce harvests that tie up reefer capacity. Load availability remains strong in Atlanta, Houston and Dallas. If you’re looking for loads in the Northeast, try Buffalo and Allentown, Pa., which could be ready to rebound after a slow start to the spring season.As noted above, van rates dropped 3 cents per mile last week, but they’re still 4 cents per mile higher than the average for April. More loads moved out of Los Angeles, Memphis and Columbus, which is a good sign. Outbound rates fell in Columbus, but they may turn around this week. Rising rates in L.A. and Stockton, Calif., could be related to produce harvests that tie up reefer capacity. Load availability remains strong in Atlanta, Houston and Dallas. If you’re looking for loads in the Northeast, try Buffalo and Allentown, Pa., which could be ready to rebound after a slow start to the spring season.
The Business Manual for Owner-Operators
Overdrive editors and ATBS present the industry’s best manual for prospective and committed owner-operators. You’ll find exceptional depth on many issues in the 2021 edition of Partners in Business.
Download
Partners in Business Issue Cover