Florida is Hot for Vans and Reefers

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For ten months of the year, Florida is the least-favorite destination for over-the-road truckers. It’s inevitably a dead-end route, and carriers either deadhead out or compete ferociously over a handful of low-priced, northbound loads. But now, the Sunshine State is ripe for the picking.

Reefers have their pick of outbound freight, during the brief, glorious spring harvest season now in progress. Reefer rates are soaring, up and down the entire state, from Miami, where rates surged 29¢ (11%) last week, and Lakeland, with a 34¢ (15%) increase, up to Jacksonville in the panhandle. More than 1,500 loads per day have been posted for reefers outbound from Jacksonville this week on DAT Load Boards, making for plenty of opportunity.

Van freight is equally plentiful and van rates are high, especially in the southern part of the Sunshine State. Miami has a load-to-truck ratio of 7.3. Considering that the national average ratio for vans was 2.6 last week, that 7.3 number indicates pricing favorable to carriers. The Port of Miami may be partly responsible, as imports arrive from Europe, South America and the Caribbean and are transferred to vans bound for regional distribution centers in the Southeast, or directly to population centers in the Northeast.

Florida’s economy is gradually becoming less dependent on citrus. A diverse crop, including melons and a mix of vegetables harvested in January, has caused surprising surges of outbound freight from Lakeland and Miami in the winter months.

On the lane from Miami to Charlotte, for example, brokers paid carriers an average of $1.69 for vans. This may not sound so great if you’re not accustomed to Florida rates, but there are three important factors to consider: (1) it’s a back haul, (2) the prevailing rate is 48¢ higher than the annual average of $1.21, and (3) the head haul rate from Charlotte to Miami averaged $2.32 last week. The 1-year average rate on that head haul was $2.50. The round trip rate balances out with a 30¢ per mile boost, compared to the annual average, and the large volume of freight in Miami makes it very likely that trucks won’t have to wait long between loads.

Transportation and logistics professionals can research capacity and rates in DAT RateView, for up-to-the-minute insights and benchmarks.