DAT SOLUTIONS: Spot reefer markets heat up

Special to Land Line | Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Load posts on DAT MembersEdge increased 1 percent last week, but a 4 percent rise in truck posts help push reefer and flatbed load-to-truck ratios lower while the van ratio bucked the trend on strong volumes.

National average spot rates, meanwhile, were uneven across all three equipment types for the week ending May 12:

  • Van: $2.15 per mile, down 3 cents
  • Flatbed: $2.71 per mile, down a penny
  • Reefer: $2.49 per mile, up 1 cent

Those rates include a fuel surcharge portion. Diesel prices jumped again last week, up nearly 7 cents to $3.24 per gallon.

Van overview
After a hot start to May, van trends took a dip in terms of volumes and rates. The number of van load posts increased 7 percent while truck posts increased 3 percent, which pushed the van load-to-truck ratio up 3 percent to 6.4 loads per truck.

Hot van markets
Volumes are building in California as agricultural goods, including tree nuts and canned tomatoes, make their way to the van segment of the spot market. Fewer reefer trucks are competing for dry van loads as well.

Several big van markets were weaker, however.

Columbus, Ohio, was down 8 cents at $2.48 per mile and Columbus to Buffalo, an important regional lane, fell 25 cents to an average of $3.70 per mile.

Lower prices out of Columbus balanced higher rates on some inbound lanes, including Atlanta to Columbus, which was up 18 cents to $2.32 per mile. That’s the highest point for that lane in several weeks.

Flatbed overview
Nationally, the number of flatbed load posts on MembersEdge declined 1 percent while truck posts increased 8 percent. That caused the load-to-truck ratio to cool, falling 8 percent to 102 loads per truck.

We’ll put “cool” in quotes because any triple-digit load-to-truck ratio is pretty darned good.

Reefer overview
Reefer load posts fell 3 percent while truck posts increased 6 percent. The national load-to-truck ratio for reefers declined 8 percent to 8.5 loads per truck.

Hot reefer markets
Florida continued to lead the way for reefer freight opportunities. Outbound rates in Lakeland and Miami were up 15 percent and 8 percent respectively, and several lanes showed big gains.

  • Miami to Baltimore: $3.49 per mile, up 24 cents
  • Lakeland to Charlotte: $3.18 per mile, up 39 cents
  • Miami to Atlanta: $3.11 per mile, up 39 cents

It wasn’t just Florida.

  • Los Angeles to Portland: $3.42 per mile, up 15 cents
  • Dallas to Houston: $3.03 per mile, up 6 cents
  • Elizabeth, N.J., to Boston: $4.35 per mile, up 11 cents

Asparagus crops helped boost volumes in Michigan, and the lane from Grand Rapids to Madison, Wis., rose 43 cents to $3.15 per mile.
 
Tri-haul of the week: Chicago-Denver-Rapid City-Chicago

Van rates from Chicago to Denver dipped to their lowest point in roughly a month ($2.66 per mile on average), and Denver to Chicago almost never pays well. Last week the average rate was just $1.20.

Consider a tri-haul instead.

A van load from Denver to Rapid City, S.D., paid $2.27 per mile on average last week, while Rapid City to Chicago averaged $2.12 per mile. Not counting deadhead, the extra stop would add about 300 miles to what was a 2,000-mile trip. That’s an average rate bump from $1.93 to $2.38 per mile, or $1,600 total.

Chart showing money-making tri-haul plan

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. All reported rates include fuel surcharges.

For the latest spot market load availability and rate information, visit the MyMembersEdge.com load board or tune in to Land Line Now. You can get all of the latest rate information at dat.com per industry-trends per trendlines, comment on the DAT Freight Talk blog, or join us on Facebook. On Twitter you can tweet your questions to us @LoadBoards and have your questions answered by DAT industry analyst Mark Montague.

 

 

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