Reefer rates continue ticking up ahead of holiday

The national average spot refrigerated freight rate moved up two cents to $2.47 in the week ending November 17, according to DAT Solutions, which operates the DAT network of load boards. It was for the second straight week for such an increase, as grocers stocked shelves ahead of Thanksgiving.

Demand for reefer and van capacity is building with the calendar year drawing to a close. In marked contrast to the previous week, the number of available loads on DAT load boards jumped 6.7 percent overall, while the number of trucks fell 2.2 percent last week — rates could be expected to move up accordingly with such a demand boost.

Rates on many of the country’s busiest reefer lanes hit the upper $3/mile range, increasing by 10 cents or more compared to the previous week. The Central Valley of 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, Idaho, topped 40 last week, meaning there were 40 load posts for every truck posted to DAT load boards.

As it did last week when reefer gained 4 cents/mile for a national average and van and flatbed rates were flat to falling, the refrigerated segment seemed to buck the overall rates trend this week. Last week’s report is at the following link:

Resuming this week’s report here:

National Average Spot Truckload Rates:
Reefer: $2.47/mile, up 2 cents
Van: $2.08/mile, down 1 cent
Flatbed: $2.41/mile, down 2 cents

National Average Load-to-Truck Ratios:
Reefer: 7.5 loads per truck
Van: 5.3 loads per truck
Flatbed: 18.5 loads per truck

Trend to Watch: Van freight demand weakens
The spot van market in mid-November is generally weaker this year compared to a year ago, when very high demand turned the hot market map its darkest shade for vans over much of the country. Shippers appear to be making an effort to reduce spot-market exposure by increasing the use of contract carriers, rail intermodal, and overall better planning now that the electronic logging device mandate is in place.

Market to Watch: Minneapolis reefer
Nationally, spot reefer volume rose last week, with load posts up 12 percent while truck posts increased just 4 percent.

One of the busiest reefer markets this month has been Minneapolis. The load-to-truck ratio was 3.9 for reefers in the first half of November, which is not that high — but the load volume was close to 10,000 during those two weeks.One of the busiest reefer markets this month has been Minneapolis. The load-to-truck ratio was 3.9 for reefers in the first half of November, which is not that high — but the load volume was close to 10,000 during those two weeks.

What’s moving out of Minnesota in November? Look at your Thanksgiving table.

Minnesota is ranked No. 1 for both turkey production and processing in the United States. The state’s 450 turkey farmers raise approximately 46 million turkeys annually. Ninety percent of turkey products processed in the state are exported out of Minnesota.

One in 10 of the country’s 100 largest ag co-ops operate out of Minnesota, including Land O’Lakes, which produces butter, cheese, eggs, and milk.

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