Spot reefer, van freight rates stabilize after eight weeks of declines

After eight weeks of decreases, national average spot refrigerated and van freight rates stabilized during the week ending March 9, 2019, said DAT Solutions, which operates the DAT network of load boards.

An increase in spot rates is a sign that demand from shippers and freight brokers is picking up. However, the market is still looking for traction: reefer and van load-to-truck ratios declined the week ending March 9, and higher rates were concentrated on a handful of lanes.

National average spot rates:

•Reefer—$2.21/mile, up 1 cent

•Van—$1.88/mile, unchanged

•Flatbed—$2.34/mile, up 1 cent

National average load-to-truck ratios:

•Reefer—5.6, down from 6.0

•Van—4.2 loads per truck, down from 4.6

•Flatbed—25.9, up from 25.7

Despite a 1-cent rise in the national average spot rate, reefer activity is in a seasonal lull. On the top 72 reefer lanes the week ending March 9, rates on 29 lanes moved higher while 40 lanes declined and three were neutral. Volumes were down only slightly from the previous week.

Average outbound rates increased in Fresno CA and McAllen TX, two of the nation’s top produce markets. Lanes with big price increases included McAllen to Dallas, up 23 cents to $3.03/mile, and Fresno to Denver, up 9 cents to $2.45/mile.

While van volume on the spot market is almost identical to this time in 2018, only 26 of the top 100 van lanes saw rates rise the week ending March 9; 59 lanes were lower and 15 were neutral.

Texas freight availability is heating up with higher load-to-truck ratios and relatively solid van rates from Houston ($1.72/mile average) and Dallas ($1.64/mile) the week ending March 9. The Dallas-to-Los Angeles lane surged 20 cents to $1.46/mile.

DAT Trendlines are generated using DAT RateView, the industry’s largest database of truckload rate information. DAT RateView is based on more than $60 billion in freight payments and 256 million freight transactions annually. For the latest spot market load availability and rate in-formation, visit www.dat.com/trendlines.