Ahead of Thanksgiving, spot reefer volumes and rates show some heat

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Spot reefer volumes set a weekly record, with California markets leading the way for load availability.Spot reefer volumes set a weekly record, with California markets leading the way for load availability.

With last-minute Thanksgiving and Black Friday freight on the move, spot truckload freight volumes increased during the week ending Nov. 24, said DAT Solutions, which operates the DAT electronic marketplace for spot freight, and rates in fact responded, unlike many of the preceding weeks in this tough cycle.

Nine of the largest reefer lanes by volume had price increases of at least 20 cents per mile.

National average spot rates for November thus far
Van: $1.82 per mile, 2 cents higher than the October average
**Flatbed: $2.11 per mile, 6 cents lower compared to October
**Reefer: $2.16 per mile, 5 cents higher than October

Trend to watch: Reefer volumes
After averaging 3.4 in October, the reefer load-to-truck ratio touched 5.5 and has been rising all month as food moves through the cold chain to Thanksgiving tables across the country. Refrigerated volumes hit a new weekly record last week, driven not surprisingly by freight availability in Idaho and California, two huge markets for fresh and frozen produce. More impressive, Miami volumes increased 44% based on data from 28 produce freight brokers.

Volume should fall in the coming weeks, but by how much is a trend to watch.

Market to watch: Northern California reefers
Spot reefer rates increased last week on 52 of DAT’s top 72 reefer lanes, so there were plenty of markets worth watching last week (see Miami, above). But in terms of freight volumes in November and their significance to food logistics, it’s hard to beat Fresno and Sacramento, California. In Fresno, the average outbound reefer rate was $2.32 per mile last week, up 15 cents compared to the previous week and 14% higher over the past four weeks. Sacramento averaged $2.66 per mile, up 11 cents, on a volume increase of nearly 21%.

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