Spot market truckload rates overtake contract rates

Heading into summer, spot market freight rates for refrigerated (reefer) vans are on track to exceed contract rates by nearly 10%. It appears that flatbed rates on the spot freight market will equal or exceed contract rates in June, as well. And the gap for dry vans is closing to 5% between the two rate trends.

Truckload Line Haul Rates on the Spot Market
Spot market truckload rates (orange) are on track to exceed contract rates (blue) this summer in some markets, for vans and flatbeds as well as reefers. It is not atypical for spot market rates for reefers to heat up in June, but the degree and breadth of the price hike reflects capacity constraints in the face of increased demand.

“Flatbed equipment remains in very high demand due to strong movement of steel and manufactured products,” says Mark Montague, Industry Pricing Analyst at TransCore. “Reefer rates continue to rise sharply with the onset of warmer weather. Van rates are up about 5% in June, on a national average,” he adds.

Not all spot market rates will be higher than the comparable contract rates. Pricing is dynamic, and depends on conditions in each specific market or lane. Van rates on the spot market overall are still slightly lower than contract rates, but brokers and shippers in certain lanes are paying a premium to get any type of equipment.

Rates may stabilize as the price of diesel fuel backs off its May highs and the spot market load-truck ratios begin to recede.