Vans Find Freight in the South, as Reefers Head West

National average rates fell a few cents for vans and reefers last week, after an end-of-quarter spike in the previous week. Loads are readily available for vans in the Southeast, and reefer demand is building in California.

Freight volume is trending up in some key lanes, a signal that rates may turn around this week or next. Keep an eye on Hot Market Maps in DAT Power and DAT RateView, so you can jump on those new opportunities as they emerge.

The Southeast is hot for vans, and the map shows high load-to-truck ratios in Arkansas, Louisiana, Missisippi and Alabama. Three Southeast regional hubs are in the top four cities for load posts on DAT load boards: Atlanta, Charlotte and Memphis. It’s also getting easier to find loads out of Chicago, so outbound rates could begin to rise very soon.

Demand is heating up for reefers in California, although it doesn’t show up as a Hot State on the map. There is more reefer freight leaving Los Angeles, and outbound rates are expected to rebound soon, after a quiet week. The bright spot was Ontario, CA, where reefer freight volume and rates got a boost from produce harvests in the Coachella and Imperial Valleys. Reefer loads are also readily available, and there is often a shortage of trucks, along the Mexico border in Nogales, AZ and McAllen, TX.

The number-one Hot Market for reefer loads is still Atlanta, a major hub for food shipments to and from the Southeast region. We should see peaches and strawberries coming out of Southern Georgia soon, so look for outbound reefer loads in the Tifton and Macon areas.

The lane from Atlanta to Chicago is usually a backhaul, and it paid only $1.29 per mile last week. The roundtrip average was $1.68, which is not great. You can make more money with a TriHaul. Look for a load from Atlanta to another market with lots of reefer loads. For example, Charleston, WV has a load-to-truck ratio of 6.8 loads per truck for reefers. Returning to Chicago via Charleston gives you an extra $1,200, for a total of more than $3,600 instead of $2,400 on the whole trip. It can sometimes be hard to find a load from Charleston to Chicago, so look at some different combinations – Decatur, AL or Greensboro, NC are two other options. Try to line up both your loads before you leave Atlanta.

Hot Market Maps can be found in DAT Power, and rates for 65,000 lanes are updated daily in DAT RateView.

Categories: Rate Trend of the Week

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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