DAT SOLUTIONS: Stronger demand boosts spot van and reefer rates

Special to Land Line | 12/6/2018

Exceptionally strong demand for trucks on MembersEdge helped push national average van and reefer rates up a penny per mile last week while the flatbed rate held steady, halting an eight-week decline.

As expected, load posts and truck posts increased significantly compared to the holiday-shortened week. The number of load posts was up 54 percent while truck posts gained 21 percent. Demand is expected to remain strong through the holidays.

Freight isn’t the only price we’re watching: the national average price of on-highway diesel was $3.21 per gallon last week. It continues to soften but is still 13 percent higher year over year.

Van trends

The national average spot van rate was $2.08 per mile, up 1 cent compared to the previous week. Van load posts increased 39 percent and truck posts increased 23 percent, and the van load-to-truck ratio rose from 6.4 to 7.2.

Shippers shopping

Rates were higher on 63 of the top 100 van lanes, including several that are strong for retail freight:

  • Columbus to Buffalo, up 31 cents to $3.99 per mile
  • Philadelphia to Columbus, up 20 cents to $1.84 per mile
  • Seattle to Spokane, up 31 cents to $3.78 per mile

Ups and downs

Outbound rates from Los Angeles are 11 percent higher than they were a month ago, but several lanes declined last week, including L.A. to Dallas, down 24 cents to $2.41 per mile.

Reefer trends

Reefer load posts surged 46 percent, more than expected when going from a holiday week to a non-holiday week, and truck posts increased 10 percent. That caused the national load-to-truck ratio to jump from 6.2 to 8.3 loads per truck.

Food for thought

With the holidays approaching, meat and potato-growing regions in the Midwest saw big upticks in reefer volumes, and fresh fruit and vegetables boosted load counts out of California.

Scattered patterns

The biggest reefer rate increases were scattered on lanes across the country.

  • L.A. to Denver, up 29 cents to $3.52 per mile.
  • Elizabeth, N.J., to Boston, up 28 cents to $4.43 per mile.
  • Grand Rapids to Philadelphia, up 35 cents to $3.98 per mile.
  • Dallas to Houston, up 19 cents to $3.05 per mile.

Twin Falls, Idaho, to Baltimore – a long-haul reefer lane – gained 24 cents to $3.26 per mile.

Tri-haul of the week


With e-commerce pumping up demand for vans as the holidays approach, look for advantages in markets that are big retail distribution hubs. For example, Columbus, Ohio, to Allentown, Pa., paid an average of $3.36 per mile last week. The trip back averaged $1.77, which is a good rate, but if you have the available hours, you can head from Allentown to Buffalo instead and generate some extra revenue.

Allentown to Buffalo paid $2.85 per mile on average last week, and the trip back Buffalo to Columbus averaged $2.52. The extra legs on the trip would add about 220 miles, not counting deadhead, but just negotiating the average rate on each leg could increase revenue by $1,000 and add 39 cents to your average rate per loaded mile.

Tri-haul of the week chart

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.



Copyright © OOIDA