DAT: Truckload spot rates gained in May on robust van and reefer volumes

BEAVERTON, Ore., June 18, 2024 — Spot truckload rates bounced higher in May as shippers sought capacity to move higher volumes of van and refrigerated freight, said DAT Freight & Analytics, operators of the DAT One freight marketplace and DAT iQ data analytics service.

The DAT Truckload Volume Index (TVI), an indicator of loads moved during a given month, hit all-time highs for van and refrigerated (“reefer”) loads:

  • Van TVI: 289, up 4% from April
  • Reefer TVI: 224, a 4% increase month over month
  • Flatbed TVI: 301, down 2% from April

The van and reefer TVI numbers climbed 13% and 25% higher, respectively, compared to May 2023. The flatbed TVI fell month-over-month for the first time since December 2023.

“Stronger van and reefer volumes are consistent with May, when shippers move seasonal produce and retail goods and truckload capacity tightens due to the Roadcheck inspection event and Memorial Day holiday,” said Ken Adamo, DAT Chief of Analytics. “Carrier attrition created further pressure on capacity.”

Spot rates reflected higher demand
Spot prices responded last month, with national average van and reefer linehaul rates within 2% of where they were in May 2023:

  • Spot van: $2.01 per mile, up 2 cents
  • Spot reefer: $2.41 a mile, up 9 cents
  • Spot flatbed: $2.52 a mile, unchanged

Linehaul rates, which subtract an amount equal to an average fuel surcharge, increased for all three equipment types. The average van linehaul rate was $1.58 a mile, up 5 cents compared to April; the reefer rate jumped 9 cents to $1.94; and the flatbed rate gained 4 cents to $2.01.

National average rates for contracted van and reefer freight declined compared to April:

  • Contract van rate: $2.43 per mile, down 2 cents
  • Contract reefer rate: $2.79 a mile, down 3 cents
  • Contract flatbed rate: $3.16 a mile, up 1 cent

Load-to-truck ratios edged higher
National average van and reefer load-to-truck ratios rose in May:

  • Van ratio: 4.4, up from 1.9 in April, meaning there were 4.4 loads for every van truck on the DAT One marketplace
  • Reefer ratio: 6.3, up from 4.8
  • Flatbed ratio: 18.0, down from 18.5

Load-to-truck ratios reflect truckload supply and demand on the DAT One marketplace and indicate the pricing environment for spot truckload freight.

About the DAT Truckload Volume Index
The DAT Truckload Volume Index reflects the change in the number of loads with a pickup date during that month. A baseline of 100 equals the number of loads moved in January 2015, as recorded in DAT RateView, a truckload pricing database and analysis tool with rates paid on an average of 3 million loads per month.

DAT benchmark spot rates are derived from invoice data for hauls of 250 miles or more with a pickup date during the month reported. Line-haul rates subtract an amount equal to an average fuel surcharge.