Although refrigerated freight rates were on fire this summer - so to speak -- an odd pattern emerged in contract rates for reefers. (Contract rates are paid directly by the shipper to the carrier.) In July, just when you would expect reefer rates to decline from June's seasonal peak, the national average contract rate for reefers actually increased from $1.50 to $1.51.
At the same time, spot market demand for reefers was waning from June's high of 8.5 loads per available truck to 6.7 in July. Broker rates also peaked in June, at $1.58 per mile, then declined to $1.53 in July on the way to the current average of $1.49 in the last week of August.
What to make of all this? The decline in the spot market rate signals a return to seasonal norms, even though reefer demand still exceeds capacity, and the spot market load-to-truck ratio appears to have rebounded slightly, to nearly 7 loads per truck in August.
Both contract and spot market rates are provided by TransCore's Truckload Rate Index. The spot market freight rate is updated daily. It represents a 30-day rolling average nationwide, based on rate agreements between freight brokers and carriers. Contract truckload rates represent the previous month's national average of thousands of freight bills.
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