Truckload rates on the spot freight market increased sharply in two of the three equipment types during the first week of May, according to new figures released by DAT Solutions and based on its network of load boards.

Driven by demand for refrigerated and dry vans, the number of total loads posted increased 5.1% compared to the previous week as truck capacity moved 1.9% higher.

The national average spot reefer rate jumped 11 cents to a national average of $1.90 per mile, as the number of posted reefer loads increased 11%. All reported rates include fuel surcharges. Reefer truck capacity gained 5%, pushing the load-to-truck ratio up 6% to 3.4 loads per truck.

The increase in the average reefer rate and freight volume was not unexpected, due to early harvests in California and late produce shipments from Florida that were seen the final week of April, according to DAT in the company blog.

Outbound reefer freight volumes and rates surged in Florida, with Lakeland up 29 cents to an average of $1.91 a mile and Miami adding 23 cents to an average of $2.32 a mile. Miami-to-Baltimore skyrocketed 41 cents to an average of $2.62 a mile.

Van load posts rose 11% and the number of available trucks was virtually unchanged. That pushed the van load-to-truck ratio up 11% to 1.8 loads per truck. The national average spot market rate for vans added 7 cents to $1.57 per mile, including a 2-cent rise in the average fuel surcharge.

According to DAT, the hottest regional van markets are:

  • South Central: Houston, $1.49 per mile, up 5 cents
  • Southeast: Charlotte, $1.77 per mile, up 2 cents
  • West: Los Angeles, $1.89 per mile, up 3 cents
  • Northeast: Allentown, Penn., $1.76 per mile, up 4 cents
  • Midwest: Chicago, $1.73 per mile, up 1 cent

Meantime, flatbed load volume was unchanged while truck capacity increased 12% from the previous week. That led to a 11% decline in the load-to-truck ratio, from 21.1 to 18.8 loads per truck. The national average flatbed rate added 1 cent to $1.91 a mile.

According to DAT, changes in load-to-truck ratios often signal impending changes in rates. If that’s the case for the current period, this time next week we may see another healthy increase in both reefer and van rates, while flatbeds could turn lower.