Reefer Freight Market Still Has a Few Hot Spots

July is the in-between season for refrigerated ("reefer") freight. The go-to markets in California and Texas are quiet, and hauls into Florida are mostly dead-end runs. Until the market turns around in August and September, however, there are still a few hot spots for reefers, with healthy demand and rates that should justify the trip.

Freight volume continued to cool off for reefers last week, but some pockets of high demand remain in New Mexico, Arkansas and the Lower Midwest, as shown in this Hot States Map for the week of July 19-25, 2015, below. Although the national picture seems tepid, loads are readily available, and trucks are relatively scarce, in certain individual markets in the Southwest, South Central and Lower Midwest regions. These "hot markets" may pay above-average rates for reefers: Albuquerque, NM; Lubbock, TX; Fayetteville, AR; Memphis and Nashville, TN; Cape Girardeau, MO; and Evansville, IN.

Those Lower Midwest markets are harvesting melons. I think you can fill a reefer about a third of the way up with 40-lb cartons, with or without pallets, and after that, you're overweight. Is that your experience?

Darker blue areas indicate statewide load-to-truck ratios that are well above the week’s national average of 4.1 loads per truck on DAT Load Boards. Daily maps, along with detailed information on demand, capacity and rates for individual markets and lanes, can be found in DAT Power Load Boards and in DAT RateView.

Reefer rates declined in most major markets last week, as a result of the seasonal lull, and the national average rate lost another 2¢ per mile. Outbound rates even lost 6¢ per mile in Fresno, CA, a major reefer market where freight availability was on the upswing last week. Central California is between seasons now, and load volume and rates may rise in August, so stay tuned.

Bright spots last week included Philadelphia, PA, where average rates rose 7¢ per mile, and Twin Falls, ID, up 5¢.

Rates are derived from DAT RateView, and are based on actual rate agreements between freight brokers and carriers. Reference rates include fuel surcharges but not accessorial or other fees. The map of reefer rates in key regional markets, shown above, can also be found on DAT Trendlines.

DAT TriHaul of the Week - REEFER - June 19-25

Brokers paid an average of $2.65 per mile last week for refrigerated (“reefer”) vans from Green Bay, WI to Philadelphia, but only $1.39 from Philly back to Green Bay, for a round-trip average of $2.02 per mile, or $3,899 for all loaded miles.

If you have time for an extra delivery, you’ll make more money by breaking up the return trip into two shorter hauls, to form a triangular route, or TriHaul that adds only 110 miles to your trip. (See below.)

Haul a load from Philly to Cincinnati, then another one from there back to Green Bay. Based on last week’s average rates, you can add $877 to your roundtrip revenue, boosting your average roundtrip rate from $2.02 to $2.34 per loaded mile. TriHaul route suggestions are offered in DAT Express and DAT Power load boards, and rates are derived from DAT RateView.



Peggy Dorf

Peggy joined DAT in 2008 as a writer and market analyst. She was instrumental in developing DAT Trendlines, and she writes extensively about the impact of economic trends on companies and individuals in transportation and logistics. Peggy is a Certified Transportation Broker with decades of experience in technology marketing and an MBA from the Wharton School.



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