Reefer sector is firing up for a busy grilling season

July is National Hot Dog Month and also peak hot dog season. The season runs from Memorial Day to Labor Day and will see Americans consume approximately 7 billion hot dogs in the three-month period.

In fact, Americans will consume 55% of the total annual hot dog production during peak season. That’s around 16,000 refrigerated truckloads! On Independence Day alone, 150 million hotdogs — or 350 truckloads — will be consumed.

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Grilling season also coincides with the annual peak of the produce season. This drives up demand for refrigerated carriers creating the seasonal high we typically see in reefer and dry van spot rates around Independence Day.

However, this may not be the case this year. Spot rates have been exceptionally high while produce truckload volumes are low compared to June of last year (down 22%). It’s doubtful that increased spending on perishable food items this July Fourth will make up for the produce shortfall. But as always, we’ll give it our best shot.

Americans plan to spend a whopping $7.5 billion on food items this Independence Day, or an average expenditure of $80.54 per person. This is up just over $4.00 per person over last year. While an anticipated 84% of people will celebrate July Fourth this year (versus 76% last year), it’s still below the long-term pre-pandemic annual average of 88%.

Where hot dogs are the hottest… 

The top 10 hot dog markets are:

  1. Los Angeles
  2. New York
  3. Dallas/Ft. Worth
  4. Chicago
  5. Philadelphia
  6. Boston
  7. Houston
  8. Atlanta
  9. Tampa
  10. Phoenix

When adjusted for population size, hot dogs are most popular in:

  1. Buffalo, NY
  2. Raleigh-Durham, NC
  3. Charlotte, NC
  4. Paducah, KY/Cape Girardeau, MO
  5. Greensboro, NC

Of course hot dogs aren’t the only food we’ll be grilling this weekend. America’s grocery list will also include:

  • An estimated 190 million pounds of red meat or pork
  • 750 million pounds of chicken
  • More than $200 million worth of condiments including ketchup and mustard
  • 68.3 million cases of beer — or more than 5% of the national annual beer consumption

In total, the freight task for July Fourth celebrations will amount to just over 72,000 truckloads of freight. And that includes the 2,500 truckloads of fireworks we’ll ship in June.

Close to 90% of all fireworks in the U.S. are imported from China over the course of each year with around 70% of Chinese fireworks entering the U.S. under the control of one businessman. Mr Ding Yan Zhong, or “Mr. Ding” as he’s referred to by industry insiders, has managed the flow of fireworks for more than a decade. And based on PIERS data, the U.S. imports an average of 1,611 twenty-foot containers of fireworks every month via the Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach.