The national average spot rate for refrigerated truckload freight gained 2 cents to $1.99/mile during the week ending May 13, the highest weekly average rate in four months, reported DAT Solutions, which operates the DAT network of load boards.

The national average van rate was down 2 cents at $1.68/mile, while the average flatbed rate fell 1 cent to $2.08/mile. Overall, the number of load posts edged down 2% last week while truck posts were up 2%. That led to lower or flat load-to-truck ratios:

  • Van ratio: 3.3 loads per truck, unchanged
  • Reefer ratio: 6.1, down 6% after a nice uptick the previous week
  • Flatbed ratio: 36.9, down 6%

REEFER TRENDS

Nationally, the number of available refrigerated loads declined 1% while truck posts increased 5%. On the top 72 lanes for spot reefer freight, 51 lanes had higher rates last week—despite uneven production out of Florida, shipping gaps in California, and a drop in volumes in markets near the Mexican border. 

Reefer lanes to watch:

  • Los Angeles-Denver, $2.84/mile, up 29 cents
  • Grand Rapids-Cleveland, $3.10/mile, down 4 cents
  • McAllen-Dallas, $2.54/mile, up 3 cents
  • Atlanta-Chicago, $1.72/mile, up 18 cents
  • Elizabeth, N.J.-Boston, $3.58/mile, up 23 cents

Miami outbound faded but high demand from Lakeland buoyed rates in Florida. Lakeland-Baltimore surged 40 cents to $2.68/mile on average. Two reefer markets to watch in CaliforniaFresno, where the average outbound rate jumped 12 cents to $2.14/mile, and Los Angeles, also up 12 cents, at $2.57/mile.

VAN TRENDS 

Nationally, the number of posted van loads and trucks each increased 1%. No major van markets made big moves, but outbound rates in Houston ($1.76/mile, up 3 cents) and Los Angeles ($2.01/mile, unchanged) have both improved by 5% over the past month.

Van trend to watch: the average length of haul in the van market decreased last week, so the larger rate increases were generally on shorter, regional lanes:

  • Atlanta-Charlotte: $2.40/mile, up 23 cents
  • Philadelphia-Boston: $3.18/mile, up 16 cents (but remember, return loads are hard to come by and they generally don't pay well)
  • Houston-New Orleans: $2.53/mile, up 15 cents
  • Memphis-Indianapolis: $1.89/mile, up 12 cents

The biggest van rate declines last week were on long-haul lanes. Intermodal companies have also been competing for market share lately with aggressive pricing, which has pushed truckload rates lower on longer lanes that compete with rail. 

Rates are derived from DAT RateView, which provides real-time reports on prevailing spot market and contract rates, as well as historical rate and capacity trends. All reported rates include fuel surcharges.

Get the latest rate trends at DAT.com