Van and Reefer Operators Give Thanks for Rate Increases

Thanks in part to seasonal food items, rates are finally trending back up for vans and reefers.

Late harvests are beginning the journey to your Thanksgiving table, via food processing plants and distribution centers. One result: this week's "hot" markets for van and reefer loads include agricultural areas, specifically the origin points for potatoes, onions, fresh vegetables and poultry products. Christmas trees are also ready for pickup, but experienced truckers will remind you to clean your trailer thoroughly after hauling trees, especially if you plan to follow with a load of food-grade cargo.

Look for loads of trees leaving Oregon, and potatoes out of Idaho or North Dakota. Those other dark red areas on the Hot States map, in Montana and South Dakota, signal a shortage of trucks without a lot of available loads. Some of these agricultural products require reefers, but a relatively short haul can be done in a vented van. Plus, when reefers are in high demand, van capacity tends to tighten up, too. And when load-to-truck ratios rise, the rates usually follow.

Reefer load availability increased 7.1% last week on the spot market, in the run-up to Thanksgiving, but the load-to-truck ratio is still low for reefers, at 3.9 loads per truck. There are some bright spots on the map, however. Twin Falls continues to offer an abundance of loads, coupled with a slight shortage of trucks. There is also a surprisingly high volume of loads available in Fargo, ND. Other Hot Markets include Albuquerque, Grand Rapids and Little Rock.

Spot market rates held steady for reefers last week, at $1.93 per mile. Outbound rates increased in key California markets, including Sacramento, where rates rose 14¢ last week, to an average of $2.20 per mile. Harvests in Central California were bolstered by rain in October. Rates remain strong in the Midwest, despite recent declines in Green Bay and Grand Rapids. Florida is up, the Northeast is down, and fresh turkeys are ready to roll out of Arkansas in time for Thanksgiving.


Twin Falls, Idaho is a great source for outbound reefer loads, prior to Thanksgiving.

If it works with your schedule, this TriHaul can increase your loaded miles and add almost $1,000 to your round-trip revenue.

Look for a load from Twin Falls to Phoenix, which paid $2.24 per mile last week. From Phoenix, head back to L.A. at $1.91 per mile.

You can build a successful TriHaul route back to L.A. with a third leg that originates in Reno, Fresno, or a handful of other hot markets, as well. TriHaul route suggestions are offered in DAT Express and DAT Power load boards, and rates are derived from DAT RateView.

Daily maps, along with detailed information on demand, capacity and rates for individual markets and lanes, can be found in DAT Power Load Boards. Rates are derived from DAT RateView and are based on actual rate agreements between freight brokers and carriers, in 65,000 point-to-point lanes throughout the U.S. and Canada. Reference rates include fuel surcharges but not accessorial or other fees. A summary of weekly trends is available on DAT Trendlines.



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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