Reefer Demand Remains High in Mid-Winter

Reefer load counts stayed high through the second week of January, with temperature-controlled trailers being used in many areas to keep freight from freezing in the cold weather. Ice and snow also caused hazardous road conditions in some areas.

The weather wasn’t the only reason rates stayed high, though. Brokers and shippers have had a harder time finding trucks since the ELD mandate went into effect. Some of that capacity returned to the spot market last week, but the national average reefer rate is still a very high $2.70/mile.

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


The biggest rate increases for the month have been along the Mexican border in McAllen, TX, and Nogales, AZ.

  • Reefer rates on the McAllen to Chicago lane surged 77¢ to $2.73/mile
  • McAllen to Atlanta soared 58¢ to an average of $3.43/mile
  • Out of Nogales, reefer rates on the lane to Chicago also shot up 70¢ to $3.11/mile
  • Reefer volumes also rose sharply on the lane from Philadelphia to Columbus, and the average rate rose 42¢ to $2.97/mile
  • Los Angeles rates were generally down, but the lane to Portland, OR, averaged $3.44/mile, up 42¢ on strong volume


Prices continued to slide out of Florida and California, with the exception of Sacramento.

  • L.A. to Phoenix dropped 33¢ but still averaged $3.35/mile
  • Ontario, CA, to Seattle tumbled 68¢, but also was still high at $3.50/mile
  • The biggest drop last week was on the lane from Lakeland, FL, to Baltimore, which dropped 69¢ to $2.23/mile
  • Miami to Elizabeth, NJ, also fell 54¢ at $1.90/mile

Find loads, trucks and lane-by-lane rate information in DAT load boards, including rates from DAT RateView.