Reefer Demand Dips, But Rates Don't

Although load-to-truck ratios for reefers dipped last week, rates held steady at their highest point in almost two years.

Load-to-truck ratios and prices surged two weeks ago, as some truckers waited out the annual Roadcheck inspection blitz. But even though ratios dropped, the national average rate stayed put at $2.11 per mile. The last time it was that high was in August 2015.

Load-to-truck ratios are highest for reefers in the darker blue areas on the Hot States Map above.

Surprisingly, on the top 72 reefer lanes, rates rose in only 27. Fresno volumes were down unexpectedly, and so were load counts out of the Ontario market in Southern California and along the border in Nogales, AZ. Still, USDA data shows that California’s vegetable shipments in May were the strongest they’ve been since 2013, despite delayed harvests, so June totals may also beat expectations.

All rates below include fuel surcharges and are based on real transactions between carriers and brokers.


Denver has the lowest average outbound reefer rate in the country, and inbound rates rose last week, to compensate:

  • L.A. to Denver rose 37¢ to $3.23 per mile
  • Dallas to Denver was up 24¢ to $2.67 per mile
  • Chicago to Denver increased 19¢ to $2.20 per mile


In Florida, droughts and wildfires hampered the state’s prime shipping season this year, which likely disappointed most carriers, brokers and shippers. Prices on lanes out of Miami continued to fall last week:

  • Miami to Elizabeth, NJ was down 23¢ to $1.84 per mile
  • Miami to Baltimore and Miami to Boston each fell an average of 22¢ per mile
  • Out West, Fresno to Denver lane rates two weeks ago, but fell 56¢ last week, to an average of $2.58 per mile
  • The lane from Dallas to Columbus lost 57¢, to $2.17 per mile

Find loads, trucks and lane-by-lane rate information in the DAT Power load board, including rates from DAT RateView.