Refrigerated Truck Rates Hit All-Time High on Spot Market

Refrigerated Truck Rates Hit All-Time High on Spot Market

September spot refrigerated truckload rates hit an all-time high, according to  Portland, Ore.-based DAT Freight & Analytics.

“We’re seeing strong volumes across equipment types as the economy continues to recover, particularly in areas related to consumer spending,” Ken Adamo, chief of analytics at DAT, said in the release. “Spot market rates just keep climbing as companies turn to the spot market to help them manage imbalances in their supply chains.”

Spot reefer volumes fell for the third month in a row, down 1.3 percent month over month, according to DAT. However, DAT said the national average reefer load-to-truck ratio was 9.7 in September, more than five times higher than April’s record low of 1.7 loads per truck.


The DAT Truckload Volume Index, a measure of dry van, reefer and flatbed loads moved by truckload carriers, rose 6.1 percent from last month and was 13 percent higher than September 2019.

The national average spot reefer rate was $2.57 per mile, up 13 cents compared to August, and 41 cents higher year-over-year.

DAT’s outlook indicated:

  • Grocery store chains are adjusting their lean-inventory strategies and have begun stockpiling for a possible surge of COVID-19 cases in the fall and winter;
  • The holiday shopping season will start earlier and last longer to accommodate shifting demand from consumers;
  • The accelerated inventory build-ups add yet another dimension to an already disjointed freight market, as manufacturers work to avoid the inventory failures seen in March this year;
  • DAT’s September FMIC Pulse Signal report forecasts that year-over-year changes in active contract rates will continue to remain below 2019 levels through the end of the year, but average contract rates forecast to increase in the first half of 2021; and
  • The amount of freight moving on the spot market in August increased by 80 percent year over year.