The average spot truckload rate for refrigerated freight surged 5 cents to $2.02/mile during the week ending July 9 and topped $2 for the first time since October 2015, reported DAT Solutions, which operates the DAT network of load boards.

The national average van rate was $1.70/mile, up 8 cents compared to the previous week, while the flatbed rate dropped 10 cents to $1.85/mile.

The number of available loads of all types fell 19% and truck posts were down 22% compared to the previous week; declines of 20% are expected during a four-day workweek.

Shipper demand for trucks was steady. The refrigerated load-to-truck ratio was 6.5, up 1% compared to last week, meaning there were 6.5 loads available for every truck posted on DAT load boards. The van ratio was 3.5, the highest ratio yet this year, up 6%. The flatbed ratio fell 1% to 15.6.

Reefer Indicators

This is still a transition period for produce, with the focus shifting north, the DAT report notes.

The average Chicago outbound rate was up 6 cents to $2.12/mile, and load counts there were down less than expected for a 4-day workweek. Atlanta ($2.37/mile, down 11 cents) and Lakeland, Fla. ($1.56/mile, down 12 cents), both fell. 

Reefer rates and volumes continue to decline in Arizona and Texas markets on the Mexican border. Example: McAllen, Texas, fell 6 cents to $1.75/mile.

Van Rates Jump

Spot van rates typically drop after July 4 but not last week as the average rate climbed above June averages. Van load posts dropped 19% and truck posts declined 24%—in line with expectations for a holiday week. 

Outbound rates in Philadelphia and Allentown, Pa., saw some of the biggest increases in the spot van market last week. The lane from Allentown to Boston was up an average of 14 cents to $3.24/mile.

At $1.92/mile, the average Memphis van rate slipped 4 cents. That market is closely tied to retail and it’s not surprising to see rates slide after the end of the quarter, according to DAT. 

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/trendlines.