Reefer report: Festival season is coming to a farm near you

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Understanding the demand for produce is critical to understanding supply and demand, and a great place to start is your local festival.

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Most produce-growing regions love to celebrate their annual harvest and typically hold a significant festival each year around the peak harvest time. Here are some key dates to watch:

  • SXSW – Avocados from Mexico and other Produce Industries – March 7-5 Austin, TX
  • Florida Strawberry Festival – February 29 to March 10 – Plant City, FL.
  • Cloverdale Citrus Festival – March 1 – Cloverdale, CA
  • Vidalia Onion Festival – April 25-28 – Vidalia, GA.
  • Georgia Strawberry Festival – April 27 – Musella, GA.
  • Skagit Valley Tulip Festival – April 1-30 – Western Washington State.
  • California Strawberry Festival – May 18-19 – Ventura County Fairgrounds, CA.
  • Cullman Strawberry Festival – May 3-4 – Cullman, AL
  • Tulip Time – May 4-12- Holland Michigan 
  • Apple Blossom Festival – April 25 – May 5 – Wenatchee, WA.
  • South Carolina Strawberry Festival – May 4 – Fort Mill, SC
  • Ham and Yam Festival – May 4 – Smithfield, NC
  • West Tennessee Strawberry Festival – May 5-11 – Humboldt, TN
  • Pasadena Strawberry Festival – May 16-20 – Pasadena, TX
  • California Strawberry Festival –  May 18-19 – Ventura, CA
  • Georgia Peach Festival – May 31 – Fort Valley, GA.
  • Lebanon Strawberry Festival – May 30 – June 2 – Lebanon, OR
  • Georgia Blueberry Festival – May 31 to June 1 – Alma, GA
  • Tennessee Strawberry Festival – May 6-11 – Dayton, TN
  • National Asparagus Festival – June 1 – Hart, MI
  • Louisiana Peach Festival – June 1 – Ruston, LA
  • Artichoke Festival – June 8 – Monterey, CA
  • North Carolina Blueberry Festival – June 14 – Burgaw, NC
  • Upland Lemon Festival – June 14-16 – Upland, CA
  • Walla Walla Annual Sweet Onion Festival – June 20-21 Washington State
  • Blueberry Festival – June 30 – Hammonton, NJ.
  • National Cherry Festival – June 29 to July 6 – Traverse City, MI
  • National Blueberry Festival – August 8-11 – South Haven, MI.
  • Peach Festival – August 3 – Wyoming, DE
  • Palisade Peach Festival – August 17 – Palisade, CO.
  • Iowa State Fair – August 8-18 – Des Moines, IA
  • California Garlic Festival – August 30-31, Sept 1 – Stockton, CA
  • Minnesota State Fair – August 22 – September 2 – St Paul, MN
  • New York State Fair – August 21 – September 2 – Syracuse, NY
  • San Luis Valley Potato Festival – September 7- Monte Vista, CO.
  • Lodi Grape Festival – September 12-15 – Lodi, CA
  • Green County Cheese Days – September 20-22 – Monroe, WI
  • Cranberry Harvest – Mid-Sept to early November – Plymouth, MA
  • State Fair of Texas – September 27- October 20 – Dallas, TX
  • Great Downtown Pumpkin Festival – September 28 – Rapid City, SD
  • Idaho Spud Day – September – Shelley, ID.
  • National Apple Harvest Festival – October 5-6 and 12-13 – Gettysburg, PA.
  • California Avocado Festival – October 4-6 – Carpinteria, CA.

*More local festivals can be found here.

Market watch

All rates cited below exclude fuel surcharges unless otherwise noted.

According to the USDA, there was a slight shortage of reefer trucks in the overall Nogales market last week, but a shortage of trucks to Chicago. Despite produce imports from Mexico via Nogales being 12% lower than last year, truckload capacity for loads of vegetables and watermelons has been tightening over the last month, with reefer linehaul rates up 7% in the last month. At $2.30/mile, linehaul rates on the Nogales to Chicago lane have jumped $0.41/mile over the same timeframe and $0.36/mile higher than last year. 

Capacity continued to loosen in the Pacific Northwest last week following a great season in which truckload produce volumes were 17% higher than last year. Since the season peak in produce shipments at the start of February, truckload volumes have dropped 32%, along with outbound linehaul rates, down from a season-high of $1.84/mile to $1.35/mile last week. According to the USDA, there was a surplus of trucks in the Yakima Valley and Wenatchee produce districts for apples and pears last week for the first time this year. A slight surplus was reported in the Twin Falls regions in Idaho for loads of potatoes. 

Load-to-Truck Ratio

With produce season generating around 3% fewer truckloads last week, we’re also seeing fewer overall spot market loads than last year – down 6% year-over-year (y/y).  Following the 33% week-over-week surge in load posts during Roadcheck Week, volumes dropped by 10% last week, while equipment posts increased by 2% w/w. Last week’s reefer load-to-truck ratio decreased by 12% to 6.88. 

Spot rates

Following the prior week’s surge in reefer linehaul rates, the national average rate cooled by just under a penny per mile to $1.98/mile. At this level, reefer linehaul rates are $0.07/mile lower on a 25% higher volume of loads moved than Week 21 last year.

Weekly reports

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