DAT: Truckload rates jump in November; reefer rates up 5.2%

PORTLAND, Ore., Dec. 20, 2021—Prices to move van and refrigerated (“reefer”) truckload freight continued their steady climb and hit new highs in November as businesses paid more to move food and other retail goods in time for holiday shopping.

The DAT Truckload Volume Index (TVI) was 239, equaling October when the Index set a record for the number of loads moved by motor carriers in a month.

National average truckload spot van and reefer rates increased for the sixth consecutive month. Contract van and reefer rates, which are negotiated for longer terms, have risen every month since May 2020.

“November had a familiar feel with spot rates cresting at a high level and contract rates continuing to creep upward,” said Ken Adamo, Chief of Analytics at DAT Freight & Analytics. “One exception was the sharp increase in spot reefer rates as food retailers tried to keep pace with people gathering for the holidays and going out for entertainment.”

Spot reefer rate jumps 17 cents

  • The national average rate for reefer loads on the spot market jumped 17 cents to $3.46 per mile (including fuel surcharge) in November, the largest month-over-month gain since June 2018. The November average spot reefer rate was up 76 cents year over year.
  • The national average spot rate for van freight hit a new high at $2.93 per mile, up 4 cents compared to October. The flatbed rate fell 4 cents to $3.04 a mile in November.

Spot load postings fell 9.5%

  • The number of loads posted to the DAT One load board network fell 9.5% in November while truck posts rose 3.6%, continuing a trend from October of less volume and more equipment. The national average van load-to-truck ratio was 5.2, down from 5.6 in October, meaning there were 5.2 available loads for every available van on the network.
  • At 11.9, the reefer load-to-truck ratio was virtually unchanged from October, while the flatbed ratio was 37.5, down from 48.6.

Van, reefer contract rates increase

  • The national average contract van rate was $2.92 per mile, up 4 cents month over month, while the reefer rate increased 5 cents to $3.11 a mile. The average contract rate for flatbed freight slipped 2 cents to $3.33 a mile.
  • The national average fuel surcharge was 41 cents a mile for van freight, the highest monthly average since November 2014. After labor, fuel is the largest operating cost for truck fleets.

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; the actual index number is normalized each month to accommodate any new data sources without distortion. Baseline of 100 equals the number of loads moved in January 2015, as recorded in DAT RateView, a database of rates paid on an average of 3 million loads per month. DAT national average spot rates are derived from RateView and include only over-the-road lanes with lengths of haul of 250 miles or more. Spot rates represent the payments made to carriers by freight brokers, third-party logistics providers and other transportation buyers.