Reefer Demand Cools, Except in a Few Hot Spots

Demand for reefers slipped 13% on the spot market last week, following an end-of-quarter surge in the previous week, and truck capacity added 2%. That combination led to a 15% decline in the national average load-to-truck ratio, from 4.6 to 3.9 loads per truck on DAT Load Boards.

Albuquerque continues to offer high load availability for reefers, coupled with a shortage of trucks. The demand turned New Mexico into a Hot State, as shown in this map for the week of October 4 – 10. Pockets of high demand and favorable ratios can also be found in Little Rock, AR, and additional opportunities surfaced in Fargo, ND and Augusta ME, but conditions are soft in California, Arizona and much of the Pacific Northwest.

Daily maps, along with detailed information on demand, capacity and rates for individual markets and lanes, can be found in DAT Power Load Boards and in DAT RateView.

Spot market rates dipped 5¢ for reefers last week, to a national average of $1.95 per mile. Outbound rates continue to trend up in key agricultural markets, including Grand Rapids, MI; McAllen, TX; and Nogales, AZ. Rates were lackluster in the larger freight markets, however, as produce harvests wane and the back-to-school and Halloween merchandise has already been delivered to stores.

Rates are derived from DAT RateView and are based on actual rate agreements between freight brokers and carriers. Reference rates include fuel surcharges but not accessorial or other fees. This map of reefer rates in key regional markets can also be found on DAT Trendlines.

Grand Rapids, MI is still a bright spot for reefers. The roundtrip between Grand Rapids and Philadelphia is over 1,400 miles, and if you can load and unload fast, you might make it in three days for an average of more than $1,000 per day.

If this roundtrip spills over into a fourth day, look for a TriHaul to take you back to Grand Rapids with more money in your pocket.

There are several options for this route, including one that takes you home via Cincinnati:

Find a load from Philadelphia to Cincinnati, and then a second load from Cincinnati to Grand Rapids. You’ll add more than $850 to your roundtrip revenue, to pay for that fourth day.

TriHaul route suggestions are offered in DAT Express and DAT Power load boards, and rates are derived from DAT RateView.