How The Pandemic Affected Freight Trends

When national average rates for van, refrigerated and flatbed trucking entered August, they were near the high marks for the year. This was the result of Covid19 pandemic that has disrupted the global supply chain. It pushed more freight to the spot market at a time when demand for truckload capacities often decline.

At least 8.6% more loads were posted by shippers and freight forwarders for the week ending August 2 while the number of truck posts went down by 8%. Load-to-truck ratios have increased in all the 3 equipment types week over week. Van ratio was at 5.2 after the average 4.4 in July. Average reefer ratio was 9.0 last week which was the highest point in the last 2 years. Flatbed ratio was well ahead of last year at 30.6. Load-to-truck ratios measure the number of loads available against the number of trucks available on the DAT One load board network. DAT Solutions operates the trucking industry’s largest load board network.

In July, national average spot rates for vans was $2.04 per mile which is 24 cents more than the rate in June. For flatbed, the national average spot rate for July was $2.20 per mile which is 13 cents more than that of June rates. For reefers, it was $2.30 per mile which was 15 cents more than June rates. Last month, the average spot van rate was 10.6 higher than July 2019. Rates were also higher for reefers and vans as the industry entered August.

The coronavirus pandemic has significantly affected the demand for certain types of produce. Higher volumes of citrus fruits and leafy greens resulted to a tighter capacity in Southern California particularly Salinas Valley. Volumes of produce on their entire state were up but there is still uncertainty due to the struggling restaurant and food service industry.

A trend to be watched is the surge of imports for home improvement and other stay-at-home products. Building materials, oversized construction equipment and manufacturing components have to be transported through flatbed trucking that can be loaded quickly through forklifts. Loads are secured by using flat webbing straps that are tightened by a ratchet.