DAT Solutions: Got trucks? Spot freight demand is surging

Special to Land Line | 11/22/2017

The number of loads on DAT MembersEdge jumped 7.4 percent during the week ending Nov. 18. Van and reefer load-to-truck ratios had big increases, up 15 percent for van loads and 13 percent for truck loads. Spot rates were above seasonal norms as national averages.

The number of trucks posted was virtually unchanged compared to the previous week.

Let’s take a closer look.

Sizzling spot rates: Fuel prices, the impending ELD mandate, and the exceptional demand for trucks are keeping rates elevated:

  • Van: $2.06/mile, unchanged compared to the previous week
  • Flatbed: $2.29/mile, down 1 cent but atypically high for the season
  • Reefer: $2.40/mile, up 3 cents to a three-year high

Pumped up: Diesel fuel was $2.91/gallon as a national average—that’s about a penny less than the previous week but 49 cents higher than a year ago. Spot truckload rates incorporate a surcharge for fuel.

Van trends: In the van freight market, load posts on MembersEdge increased 13 percent and truck posts declined 1 percent last week. At 6.7, the van load-to-truck ratio is just below the peak of 7 at the end of September and is more than twice as high as it was last year at this time.

Hot markets: Los Angeles, where the average outbound rate gained 12 cents to $2.69/mile, was again the No. 1 market for van load volume. Volumes and rates also increased in Memphis ($2.38/mile, up 6 cents), Houston ($1.72/mile, up 2 cents); and Chicago ($2.73/mile, up 2 cents). Overall the number of van loads moving on the top 100 van lanes set a record high.

Lanes with gains: It’s not often that a major intermodal lane sees the biggest jump in spot van rates, but that’s what happened last week. Los Angeles-Dallas added 25 cents to an average of $2.55/mile, which is very high for a lane that competes with rail. Elsewhere:

  • Memphis-Atlanta was up 23 cents at $2.79/mile
  • Memphis-Columbus gained 22 cents at $2.36/mile
  • Buffalo-Columbus increased 20 cents to $2.22/mile

Busting out all over: Spot reefer market demand looks more like June than November. Fresh produce often drives the demand for refrigerated freight, and this year wet fields and high summer temps led to late planting and lower yields out West. Now, reefer freight seems to be everywhere. California volumes were up 10 percent compared to the previous week and Texas reefer load counts increased 14 percent. Even Florida surged 52 percent, though that was with much lower load counts.

Reefer volumes solid: The number of available spot reefer loads increased 15 percent last week and a 2 percent gain in truck posts helped send the reefer load-to-truck ratio up to 13 loads per truck. Key markets: Sacramento ($2.91/mile, up 26 cents), Chicago ($3.35/mile, up 8 cents), and Grand Rapids ($3.56/mile up 2 cents).

Tri-haul of the week
The average rate for a van load from Memphis to Atlanta rose to $2.79/mile last week but the return trip paid just $1.66 on average. That’s a good roundtrip but you could break up the backhaul into two shorter hauls and make even more.

Instead of heading straight back to Memphis, go Atlanta-Birmingham, which paid an average of $3.95/mile last week. From Birmingham you can haul a load back to Memphis for an average of $2.19/mile. If you have the hours to absorb the time at the loading dock, the tri-haul would boost your average rate from $2.23 to $2.83 per mile. Not counting deadhead, the mileage is basically the same, so you’d add about $464 of revenue.

Rates are derived from DAT RateView, which provides real-time reports on prevailing spot market and contract rates, as well as historical rate and capacity trends. RateView's comprehensive database is composed of more than $33 billion in freight bills in over 65,000 lanes. All reported rates include fuel surcharges.

For the latest spot market load availability and rate information, visit OOIDA’s MyMembersEdge.com. Join the conversation on Land Line Now, the DAT Freight Talk blog, on Facebook, or on Twitter @LoadBoards. For the latest spot market load availability and rate information, visit dat.com/industry-trends/trendlines.



Copyright © OOIDA