• DATVF.VSU
    1.385
    0.016
    1.2%
  • DATVF.PHLCHI
    0.943
    -0.053
    -5.3%
  • DATVF.VEU
    1.652
    0.027
    1.7%
  • DATVF.LAXSEA
    2.155
    0.031
    1.5%
  • DATVF.CHIATL
    2.209
    0.102
    4.8%
  • DATVF.VWU
    1.764
    0.049
    2.9%
  • DATVF.SEALAX
    1.373
    0.067
    5.1%
  • DATVF.VNU
    1.600
    0.030
    1.9%
  • DATVF.DALLAX
    1.030
    -0.019
    -1.8%
  • DATVF.ATLPHL
    1.803
    0.030
    1.7%
  • DATVF.LAXDAL
    1.740
    0.050
    3%
  • ITVI.USA
    10,250.710
    -46.410
    -0.5%
  • OTRI.USA
    7.920
    -0.400
    -4.8%
  • OTVI.USA
    10,244.810
    -70.470
    -0.7%
  • TLT.USA
    2.620
    0.010
    0.4%
  • WAIT.USA
    158.000
    8.000
    5.3%
  • DATVF.VSU
    1.385
    0.016
    1.2%
  • DATVF.PHLCHI
    0.943
    -0.053
    -5.3%
  • DATVF.VEU
    1.652
    0.027
    1.7%
  • DATVF.LAXSEA
    2.155
    0.031
    1.5%
  • DATVF.CHIATL
    2.209
    0.102
    4.8%
  • DATVF.VWU
    1.764
    0.049
    2.9%
  • DATVF.SEALAX
    1.373
    0.067
    5.1%
  • DATVF.VNU
    1.600
    0.030
    1.9%
  • DATVF.DALLAX
    1.030
    -0.019
    -1.8%
  • DATVF.ATLPHL
    1.803
    0.030
    1.7%
  • DATVF.LAXDAL
    1.740
    0.050
    3%
  • ITVI.USA
    10,250.710
    -46.410
    -0.5%
  • OTRI.USA
    7.920
    -0.400
    -4.8%
  • OTVI.USA
    10,244.810
    -70.470
    -0.7%
  • TLT.USA
    2.620
    0.010
    0.4%
  • WAIT.USA
    158.000
    8.000
    5.3%
Chart of the WeekInsights

Reefer demand spikes as temperatures drop

Chart of the Week: Reefer Outbound Tender Volume Index, Reefer Outbound Tender Rejection Index – USA SONAR: ROTVI.USA, ROTRI.USA

Refrigerated/temperature controlled or otherwise affectionately known ‘reefer’ trailer demand is on the rise this November as temperatures drop and produce harvests decline, which begs the question—what?

The idea that a trailer equipped with a unit that is primarily designed to keep its contents cool is in higher demand than it was in June seems strange to say the least. According to FreightWaves’ proprietary Reefer Outbound Tender Volume Index (ROTVI) reefer trailer demand has increased 21% since June 15, which is right around the traditional spring/summer peak season when much of the U.S. produce is being harvested.

Pair the increasing volumes with the fact the Reefer Outbound Tender Rejection Index (ROTRI) is also showing an 11% increase in tender rejection rates since the same time, an indication that carriers are having more difficulty covering reefer equipment type load requests from their shippers.

FreightWaves tender volume and tender rejection indices are heavily weighted toward contracted freight volumes. The contracted freight market has far less emotion than the spot or transactional freight market, where daily rates can fluctuate without boundaries.

Much of the produce shipments that create disruptions throughout the year occur on the spot market, due to their inconsistency. The impact of these seasons is better represented in rejection rates versus tender volumes.

Carriers, especially in a market like the one currently, do not reject loads from their accounts with a contracted relationship without good reason, as they know reliability is key to building a strong relationship with their customers.

In the current environment, it is very costly to lose an existing customer. Much of the recent rhetoric of the market has been for brokers and carriers to keep volumes elevated by dropping prices while volumes are soft. A carrier who can’t cover their customers’ needs is only making this task more difficult, basically like tossing a bucket of grease on the side of a mountain you are trying to climb. So how is it volumes are increasing alongside declining capacity in what should be the offseason in a down cycle for reefer trailers?

Reefer trailers are not for just keeping items cool, but also for keeping the cargo in a steady temperature range. This range can be anywhere from -80 to 104 degrees Fahrenheit. Reefer trailers also have a layer of insulation and generally sturdier sidewall construction, making them more durable. This means reefer trailers are suitable for more than just food product transportation. Certain chemicals need to maintain a steady temperature. Given that before the trailer can haul food items again it will need to be washed thoroughly, so many carriers avoid moving both. Some shippers require that the trailers only haul food grade items to avoid cross contamination as well.

Temperatures have plummeted across the country over the past two weeks. The first round of probably many arctic blasts to hit the nation’s midsection created many record lows from the Dakotas to New England. The freight that cannot be frozen, which ranges from paint to many of the same beverages that need protection from the heat, needs to be moved through the cold. Combine that with the fact Thanksgiving is right around the corner — think turkeys and all the food — and we get a surge of reefer demand just about the time many thought the season was ending.

Compared to the dry van segment of trucking, reefer freight represents anywhere from 10-20% of the total freight volume in the U.S., meaning it is much more exposed to regional supply shortages when demand spikes. Reefer carriers do not have the blanket of coverage of their dry van counterparts. Many truckers will trade out their reefer equipment for dry van in the winter as well as they move their winter freight, further reducing the supply.  

Compared to this point last year, reefer demand is up roughly 5% after averaging -4.5% from June through October.  

About the Chart of the Week

The FreightWaves Chart of the Week is a chart selection from SONAR that provides an interesting data point to describe the state of the freight markets. A chart is chosen from thousands of potential charts on SONAR to help participants visualize the freight market in real-time. Each week a Market Expert will post a chart, along with commentary live on the front-page. After that, the Chart of the Week will be archived on FreightWaves.com for future reference.

SONAR aggregates data from hundreds of sources, presenting the data in charts and maps and providing commentary on what freight market experts want to know about the industry in real time.

The FreightWaves data science and product teams are releasing new data sets each week and enhancing the client experience.

To request a SONAR demo click here.

Tags
Show More

Zach Strickland, FW Market Expert & Market Analyst

Zach Strickland, the “Sultan of SONAR,” curates the weekly market update. Zach is also one of FreightWaves’ Market Experts. With a degree in Finance, Strickland spent the early part of his career in banking before transitioning to transportation in various roles and segments, such as truckload and LTL. He has over 13 years of transportation experience, specializing in data, pricing, and analytics.

4 Comments

  1. All your articles are BS ..freight demand your percentage up and down BS bottom line shit kicker RATES FN SUCK going on 2 years now we are barely hanging on out here because of freight RATES If theres a demand dont mean a dam thing if the rates arent psying shit ..99% sure you dont even or never even drove a dam truck in your life..

  2. Last year in November rates were much better. November has always been a good month for reefer from NW., because apple season starts at fall. And Christmas trees are moved in the reefer. Usually this was the best season for the reefer, this year it is slow.

  3. You guys are some real idiots lol when it comes to trucking.

    “Many truckers will trade out their reefer equipment for dry van in the winter as well as they move their winter freight, further reducing the supply. “

    This comment about sums up what you know about what “truckers” do.

    Please go eat another job. Writing papers about trucking is not for you.

  4. Totally agree with previous 3 comments…… Seems like Freightwaves posting articles lately making it sound like Trucking is in good shape and better than ever…… And its NOT…..Things couldnt be in a much ABSOLUTE worst shape than they are now…….And Brokers or Shippers not helping at all either! If only this industry could come to an absolute collapse, I be ok with that!!!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Close