It’s a new day on the freight spot market, notes DAT’s Ken Harper with this week’s update on dry van and reefer demand, rates and more. Post-Hurricane Harvey and Irma, van freight rate gains have been more or less sustained, and “to put this in perspective, we haven’t seen van rates this high for a protracted time (2-plus months) since the Polar Vortex/Snowpocalypse of 2014,” Harper says.
Van freight and rates continued strong in the last week with the national average at $2.07/mile, just 2 cents less than the peak post-Irma. Los Angeles continues as the top market for outbound freight, with double-digit load-to-truck ratios and rates climbing to almost $2.50/mile on average. This all confirms that “holiday season freight continues to come in from Asia,” Harper quips.
Chicago, meanwhile, was also very strong outbound, with slightly lower freight volumes last week but higher rates ($2.73/mile).
Van hot markets: As noted above, Los Angeles is still the top market for van volumes, and the load-to-truck ratio there is still in the double digits. That pushed outbound rates in L.A. up 5 percent last week. Key lanes out of Chicago rose considerably, such as the one to Columbus, Ohio (more on that below).
Not so hot: Rates were up across most of the country, which means some “backhaul” lanes out of Denver took a step back – what else is new? One of the few headhaul lanes out of Denver is to Albuquerque, N.M., and even it was down 13 cents at $1.96 per mile on average.
Reefer overview: Thanksgiving turkeys have been on the move, and reefer capacity has gotten tighter. Just like with vans, California and Chicago led the charge for reefer rates. Volumes were down slightly, though, and the picture was a bit more mixed nationally. Of the top 72 reefer lanes, 39 had rising rates, while 33 lanes were down.
Hot markets: The biggest spike was on the lane from Chicago to Kansas City, which surged 49 cents last week to an average of $3.10 per mile. Demand is also extra-high out of potato-shipping regions ahead of Thanksgiving. In general, rates for reefer loads leaving Southern Idaho and going east were up, while south and westbound lanes paid a little less compared to the week before.
Not so hot: The biggest drop-off last week was the lane from Grand Rapids, Mich., to Cleveland, which tumbled 54 cents to an average of $3.16 per mile. And as we were saying up above, southbound lanes out of Idaho tended to pay a little less last week, and the lane from Twin Falls to Phoenix dropped 27 cents to $2.74 per mile.