Van and Reefer Rates Start September on a High Note

Good news, everyone!

Freight volume AND RATES got a healthy boost last week for all equipment types. Vans got the biggest bump, which boosted the load-to-truck ratio above 3.0 for the first time since early July, and gave carriers a 6¢ per mile raise, as a national average. Reefers had the best load-to-truck ratio since January, accompanied by a 3¢ rate increase, and even flatbed rates got a 1¢ lift alongside a 4% increase in the ratio.

Scene from "Futurama" by Matt Groening, © 20th Century Fox. All Rights Reserved.

If you're not a fan of "Futurama" please excuse me, but I just couldn't help myself. Also -- you definitely need to watch this show, created by Matt Groening. He is famous for "The Simpsons" but I think "Futurama" is even funnier. It's syndicated on Comedy Central, so you can watch it and decide for yourself.

But I digress.

Van Demand Heads North

There’s often a little extra pressure at the end of the month, and also before a holiday weekend, so the big upswing in van rates could be due to a one-week trend in some parts of the country. In the northern regions, however, that trend looks pretty solid. You can expect to find good van freight at good rates well into September.

Southbound rates are up all over, from Oregon to the big freight markets in the Mid-Atlantic States. The Midwest is looking especially good. Chicago and Columbus continued to pick up steam last week. Outbound rates are rising in Houston, as well. Dallas volumes are increasing, but rates there haven’t responded yet.

VAN TriHaul: Minneapolis - Chicago - Des Moines - Minneapolis (or vice versa)

Chicago to Minneapolis is one of those lanes that can flip directions in the fall, when you make more money heading from Minneapolis to Chicago. Rates were up 16¢ from Minneapolis to Chicago to $1.84 per mile last week, bringing the two lanes into balance, with only a 1¢ difference in either direction.

One of the seasonal commodities is sugar, processed locally from beets that are grown northwest of the Twin Cities. Potatoes are also moving now from the Big Lake, MN area, and more spuds will be ready soon in the Red River Valley growing region. Potatoes can go on reefers or vans. You may be asked to run the trip overnight, when it’s sure to be cool outside. You’ll get about $1,500 for the roundtrip, but if you add a third destination, you can do even better.

This depends on your schedule, of course, but a TriHaul to Des Moines, IA can boost your revenue by $400 or $500, while adding only 177 loaded miles to the roundtrip. If you start your trip in Minneapolis, you’ll do a little better than if you start in Chicago, but this route works in both directions.

Here's the map. Thanks, Google!

Lane-by-lane rate information and Hot Market Maps are available in the DAT Power load board. Rates are based on DAT RateView, with $28 billion in lane rates, updated daily, for 65,000 point-to-point lanes across North America.



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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