Rate Trend of the Week – Harvests Squeeze Van Capacity

Usually, when we discuss fruit and vegetable harvests, we look at their effect on reefer freight. But the produce season has a big impact on vans, as well. As the spring produce ripens, demand in Florida, Georgia and the Carolinas has reversed truck supply. During the rest of the year, it’s easy enough to get a load into the southeast, but your truck might have to deadhead out of a one-way market. Instead, outbound van rates are now rising out of the southeast.

Examples include:

– Atlanta to Columbus, up $0.27 (18%) to $1.76 per mile (includes $0.51 for the fuel surcharge)

– Charlotte to Philly, up $0.21 (8%) to $2.82

– Miami, FL to Elizabeth, NJ, up $0.27 (33%) to $1.60

– Dothan, AL to Nashville, TN, up $0.22 (18%) to $1.94

Here’s a more visual illustration of the recent trend. In our Hot Market Maps last week, the darkest color corresponds to a load-to-truck ratio of 5.7 or higher. That means for every truck that a carrier posted on the DAT Load Boards, there were an average of 5.7 outbound loads posted in the same market. In the lightest-colored areas, the ratio was 1-to-1 or below.

The greatest number of available loads for vans, combined with lower truck availability, drove up the load-to-truck ratio in central and northern Florida, in southern and northern California and Oregon, and at Mexican border crossings in Texas and Arizona at the end of April. Other hot van markets include Memphis, markets along the southeastern seabord, plus regional freight hubs in Ohio and Pennsylvania.