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DAT: Robust reefer volumes boost May spot rates

June 21, 2024
“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,” DAT’s analytics chief reports.

Spot truckload rates bounced higher in May as shippers sought capacity to move greater volumes of van and refrigerated freight, according to new data from DAT Freight & Analytics.

The DAT Truckload Volume Index (TVI), an indicator of loads moved during a given month, hit all-time highs for van and refrigerated 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,” Ken Adamo, DAT chief of analytics, said in a news release. “Carrier attrition created further pressure on capacity.”

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

Load-to-truck ratios edge 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.

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