After preceding week’s rise in volumes, van and reefer rates reversed downward course

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There was finally a bit of a turnaround in the van and reefer markets last week when it comes to rates. After volumes built the preceding week, better weather combined with a 4.2% jump in the number of available loads to push rates higher during the week ending May 5, said DAT Solutions, which operates the DAT load board network.

The number of trucks posted, which has steadily increased in recent weeks, rose 1.6%.

National average spot rates through May 5
**Van: $1.82/mile, 1 cent above the April average
**Refrigerated: $2.18/mile, 3 cents higher than April
**Flatbed: $2.33/mile, 1 cent lower

The price of fuel was $3.17 per gallon as a national average, unchanged from the previous week.

Trend to watch: Produce volumes
The national average reefer load-to-truck ratio popped up from 2.5 to 2.9. In Florida, the number of spot reefer loads from Lakeland increased 13% and freight from that market paid an average of $2.21/mile, up 49 cents compared to the previous week. Volume from Miami jumped 20% and paid an average of $2.59/mile, a 51-cent increase.

Lakeland to Baltimore increased 85 cents to $2.86/mile. Miami to Boston added 62 cents to $3.09/mile. And that’s just two of several Florida-outbound lanes with nice price gains. Keep an eye on other big produce markets like McAllen, Texas, where freight volumes were up 25%. It wasn’t enough to boost rates—at least not last week.

Market to watch: Charlotte vans
Spot van freight is finally showing improvement as rates increased on 53 of the top 100 van lanes last week. That’s the first time in six weeks that more lanes were up than down.

Few markets were real standouts, but in and around Charlotte, N.C., the average outbound spot van rate increased 3 cents to $1.99/mile and several outbound lanes improved with load-to-truck ratios that were higher than usual the first part of the week.Few markets were real standouts, but in and around Charlotte, N.C., the average outbound spot van rate increased 3 cents to $1.99/mile and several outbound lanes improved with load-to-truck ratios that were higher than usual the first part of the week. One caveat: The high ratio began to slip midweek. It remains to be seen whether this is a somewhat typical end-of-month surge or the beginning of a sustained upward trend.One caveat: The high ratio began to slip midweek. It remains to be seen whether this is a somewhat typical end-of-month surge or the beginning of a sustained upward trend.

A quick look at a few lanes outbound from Charlotte that improved:
**Charlotte to Buffalo, up 11 cents to $2.24/mile
**Charlotte to Atlanta, up 5 cents to $2.30/mile
**Charlotte to Memphis, up 6 cents to $1.57/mile