Rate Trend of the Week: Reefer rates heat up in major markets, as lane mix changes

While TransCore’s Truckload Rate Index shows national reefer linehaul rates declining 7 cents in the first two weeks of December to $1.45/mile, an analysis of several of the top markets shows major market rates increasing. TransCore freight experts believe that the mix of lanes has changed, as long haul freight in the Northern States require reefers to protect cargo from freezing. Meanwhile, reefers are no longer in demand for lanes and products that require refrigeration during the peak summer season. Long hauls typically pay less per mile than short hauls, and reefer capacity is looser in the off season. This adds up to an overall rate decline, even while individual lane rates are rising.

Here are some of this week’s highlights and low lights for reefers:

Market with biggest increases in reefer rates: Atlanta, GA

  • Atlanta showed rate increases in every outbound lane except Orlando.
  • Outbound lane to Charlotte surged by $0.75 per mile, adding about $180 to the trip.
  • Charlotte to Atlanta backhaul rates declined by $0.32 per mile, for a total of about $80, so roundtrip is worth $100 more than in the previous week.

Markets with declining reefer rates: Philadelphia and Los Angeles

  • Philadelphia to Boston and Richmond both declined by $0.12 per mile, on relatively short hauls
  • Rates increased slightly from Philly to Columbus and to Atlanta
  • Los Angeles outbound rates to Phoenix and Sacramento were unchanged
  • L.A. rates declined on longer hauls, to Chicago, Denver and Seattle

Biggest increases:

  • Atlanta to Charlotte, as noted above.
  • Memphis to Dallas rates increased by $0.25 per mile, from $1.59 to $1.84 for line haul. (Add the fuel surcharge of about $0.37 to get the “all in” total rate.)
  • On the return trip from Dallas to Memphis, rates slipped by $0.07 per mile, the only decline from the Dallas market this week.

Biggest declines:

  • Charlotte to Atlanta, as noted above.
  • Denver to Dallas went down by $0.22 per mile, to $1.50 for line haul.
  • The return leg, Dallas to Denver, increased by $0.13 per mile, partially offsetting the weaker rates from Denver.

*You are welcome to contact me at TransCore for explanation of terminology: [email protected]

For each week’s Rate Trend, we analyze changes in freight movement and rates on the spot market in 48 top lanes across the U.S. These routes serve major markets, including Atlanta, Chicago, Dallas, Los Angeles and Philadelphia. We also look at secondary markets such as Columbus, Denver and Memphis.

To find rates for your favorite lanes and equipment every day, subscribe to Truckload Rate Index Combo. You’ll get spot market pricing from broker rate agreements – not bids – alongside the longer-term contract rates derived from thousands of actual freight bills, plus information about fuel surcharges, accessorial charges and rate calculators.