Rates and Demand Are Still High for Refrigerated Freight

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Seasonal harvests are winding down, but capacity is still tight for reefer freight. That’s led to higher reefer rates on the West Coast and in the Midwest.

Potato shippers seem to be feeling the effects of the ELD protests that have been scattered across the country. Those, combined with the supply chain disruptions caused by the hurricanes, have led to tight capacity in southern Idaho, and outbound rates continue to climb out of Twin Falls.

Rates below include fuel surcharges and are based on real transactions between brokers and carriers.


Reefer rates were up big in Northern California, but the wildfires raging in that area may affect some routes. Be careful out there.

  • Reefer load counts got a big boost along the Mexican border in Nogales, AZ and McAllen, TX
  • Reefer rates on the lane from Sacramento to Portland soared 70¢ to $3.42/mile
  • Fresno to Seattle was up 30¢ to $2.80/mile
  • Sacramento to Denver gained 29¢ at $2.55/mile
  • Chicago to Kansas City also had a big increase at $3.48/mile, up 46¢ from the week before
  • Green Bay to Joliet, IL rocketed past the $4 mark to an average of $4.23/mile


Apple season is fairly short in Michigan, so prices on some outbound lanes drifted down. Grand Rapids to Philadelphia dropped 58¢ to $3.52/mile.

Florida rates continued to slide:

  • Miami to Atlanta dropped 40¢ to $1.29/mile, which is more typical for this time of year
  • The weakest reefer lane was Lakeland, FL to Charlotte, down 30¢ to $1.19/mile, and it’s continuing on a downward trend this week

As we were saying before, the going rate for reefer loads heading from Grand Rapids to Philadelphia was way down last week. The lane still pays well at $3.51/mile, and the return trip from Philly to Grand Rapids averaged $1.92/mile. That’s a good roundtrip, especially if you can complete the 1,436 miles, with pickup and delivery, in three days.

If your trip will take four days anyway, you can boost your revenue with a TriHaul. One route takes advantage of high rates on the lane from Philly to Cincinnati. That lane paid an average of $2.51/mile last week, and reefer loads going from Cincinnati to Grand Rapids averaged $3.44/mile.

Adding that extra leg would make the trip about 200 miles longer, not counting deadhead. Your average rate would also go from $2.72 to $3.15 per loaded mile. The combination of more loaded miles and higher rate per mile will add more than $1,200 to your total revenue for the trip, giving you $5,100 over four days. Looking at it another way, it’s $1,300 per day instead of $1,000.

To find better-paying roundtrips on the lanes you’re running, use the TriHaul tool in DAT TruckersEdge Pro and DAT Power.

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