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SONAR Sightings for Aug. 23: Reefer volumes fall in Northern California

The highlights from Tuesday’s SONAR reports are below. For more information on SONAR — the fastest freight-forecasting platform in the industry — or to request a demo, click here. Also, be sure to check out the latest SONAR update, TRAC — the freshest spot rate data in the industry.

Market watch

Stockton, California

Reefer volumes out of Northern California are down this month. Stockton is a major distribution center during the produce harvest season, so these signs of decline point to certain produce such as blueberries going out of season and things like Asian pears coming into season. The Reefer Outbound Tender Volume Index for Stockton is down 19% since last Thursday to the lowest levels since May, and San Francisco, the major market in these parts, has seen an 8% decline in outbound reefer volumes since the start of August.

Capacity in San Francisco reacted to the significant decrease in freight volumes. The Reefer Outbound Tender Reject Index in San Francisco fell 400 basis points over the course of August to 3.6%. However, in Stockton, rejection rates remain roughly the same at 5.1%.


Bowling Green, Kentucky

Volumes out of Bowling Green have sprung to their highest levels since the start of the year. Since Aug. 12, the Outbound Tender Volume index for Bowling Green has risen 35%, while inbound volumes for this traditional backhaul market have remained the same throughout the month. 

Outbound tenders now exceed inbound volumes in Bowling Green for the first time since 2020 by 13.4%. The increase in outbound volumes has pushed Bowling Green’s Headhaul Index into the positive for the first time in two years to 4.5.

Inbound freight is not bringing enough inbound capacity to handle the surge in outbound volumes as rejection rates are up 360 basis points to 10.6%.


Richmond, Virginia

Historically a backhaul market, Richmond has been mostly a headhaul market since the start of the year. Now both inbound and outbound volumes are down, raising the question whether this will bring the balance of power back to its traditional inbound and outbound freight mix. 

Outbound tender volumes are down 22% since Aug. 14 and inbound volumes fell 18.4% in the same time frame. Outbound volumes now exceed inbound volumes by less than 5%, generating a 59.3% decrease in Richmond’s Headhaul Index to 4.5.

The decline of volumes in and out of Richmond loosened capacity at first, but in the last couple of days rejection rates have picked back up. The Outbound Tender Reject Index is up over 100 bps since last Thursday to 4.9%, indicating that there is still not enough inbound traffic to handle the outbound volumes.


NTI as a point of reference

The National Truckload Index is a daily look at how spot rates in specific lanes hold up in comparison to the national average, giving carriers and brokers an idea of which lanes to gravitate toward or avoid.

NTI Daily

Lane to watch: Atlanta to Bowling Green

Spot market rates from Atlanta to Bowling Green are down 26 cents since the start of August, but carriers can still bring in a large chunk of change. Average spot rates in this lane are $3.19 a mile – 59 cents above the national average – with a confidence score of 3, presenting a certain amount of volatility in rates, but not much. A return trip can present carriers with $3.40 a mile, but the confidence score drops to a 2, indicating that there is a significant amount of variability in landing the best possible rate.

Market Dashboard

Corey Smith

Corey is a staff writer for FreightWaves with experience in air, intermodal and parcel operations, as well as LTL and full truckload transportation management. He is a graduate of the University of Memphis, majoring in supply chain management, and enjoys basketball, cinema and traveling.