Van, Reefer Rates Stabilize, Flatbed Shows Strength

Last week, spot market rates didn’t exactly recover, but they didn’t drop much either. And fuel prices declined by a few cents, which offered slight relief — and perhaps some hope — to beleaguered fleet owners.

Seattle's Most Photographed Santa

VAN – Santa in Seattle

Rates for vans were stable at an average of $1.84 per mile for the top 73 lanes. I chose many of these lanes because of their high traffic of van freight, and paired them wtih backhaul lanes that typically have lower demand. Last week, the rates in the backhaul lanes held up, and the Western U.S. was also an area of rate stability. Rates rose in a handful of mid-sized and smaller markets in the West, including Seattle and Spokane in Washington State, as well as Medford, OR. Rates also rose out of the Stockton, CA market, which includes the port of Oakland. The bump in activity in Seattle and Stockton may be due to an increase in import traffic, as we are seeing an uptick at East Coast ports, as well. Rates rose $0.04 to an average of $2.03 per mile last week in Charlotte, a local hub in the Southeastern region. Asian imports at this time of year are usually a harbinger of Christmas. Looks like Santa will be harnessing his big rig in the coming weeks.

Betty Crocker's Cheesy Au Gratin Potatoes

Photo credit: Seattle’s Most Photographed Santa

REEFER – Potatoes au Gratin

Reefer rates rose in several key markets and declined in others, as cargo transitions away from fruit and green vegetables to dairy products, potatoes and processed foods for the Thanksgiving table. Outbound reefer rates rose from Green Bay rose $0.10 to $2.39 per mile, as Wisconsin shipped cheese. Potatoes are moving out of Southern Florida and Southern Idaho, supporting rate increases — although outbound rates from Lakeland FL are still well below breakeven at $1.40 per mile, including fuel. Cheese and potatoes? Yum!

Recipe and photo credit:


Lumber is heading out of Eastern Oregon, Washington and Idaho, and flatbed freight volume is on the rise in a selection of markets in the Midwest and Southeast. The national rate is stable at $2.29 per mile, which is only two cents below the June peak, although fuel prices are higher now so truckers’ profits are off. The robust flatbed traffic signals an increase in construction, and is one of the brighter indicators I’ve seen in recent weeks.

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