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SONAR Sightings: Illinois pumpkin capital sees 43% less reefer volume this year

The highlights from Wednesday’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 for Oct. 12:

Bloomington, Illinois

Reefer volumes from the pumpkin capital of Morton, Illinois, which falls into the Bloomington market, are nowhere near the levels of previous years.

In the last couple of weeks of September, the Reefer Outbound Tender Volume Index gained 4 points, or 46.3%, to 12.5. While this may sound like a respectable amount, once October began, volumes started to trend sharply downward. From Oct. 1 through Monday, outbound reefer volumes dropped 39.4%. It wasn’t until this week that the reefer volume index ticked up by 1.5 points, but the month of October is nearly half over.

In 2021 there was a pumpkin shortage largely caused by a fungus that farmers were fighting against. Still, volumes were 43% higher than they are today. Can I get a slice of pumpkin pie, please?

Rejection rates have seen a slight bump this week as volumes edged upward. The Reefer Outbound Tender Reject Index is up 21 basis points to 3.6%.



Outbound volume levels in Indianapolis dropped for the sixth time in October to their lowest levels since May.

The Outbound Tender Volume Index in Indianapolis is down more than 10 points, or 3.8%, since the beginning of the month.

Inbound tender volumes, on the other hand, are falling even further. The Inbound Tender Volume Index for Indianapolis is down more than 22 points, or 8.7%, since the beginning of the month. Placing the disparity between inbound and outbound freight volumes at 9.1%, and pushing the Headhaul Index down 34.5% in the last week.

The significant decrease in inbound truckload capacity is tightening the market. The Outbound Tender Reject Index is up 33 bps in the last week to 6.1%.



Reefer volumes in Chicago are up from a summer dip but remain consistent into peak season.

Outbound reefer volumes in Chicago may be up 13.3.% since May, but so far this month they are, if anything, stunted. The Reefer Outbound Tender Volume Index in Chicago is down almost 2 points, or 4%, since the start of the month but has seen minor increases along the way.

“We’re observing small rate declines heading into Chicago, which indicates that the Chicago market is beginning to tighten, as it usually does around this time of year,” said Alex Riermersma, truckload pricing manager at Ally Logistics.

“Outbound volumes are fairly consistent for us out of Chicago, and capacity is still quite easy to come by,” Riermersma said.

The Chicago reefer market has definitely been tightening this month. The Outbound Tender Reject Index rose 163 bps to more than 7% on Monday but is now beginning to soften by dropping 40 bps to 6.6% on Tuesday.


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: Toledo, Ohio to Chicago

Reefer volumes out of Toledo, Ohio, are up 13.4% week over week, and rejection rates climbed 175 bps in the last five days to 3.4%. Spot market rates from Toledo to Chicago are up 23 cents to $3.80 a mile since the rise in rejection rates began. If rejections out of Toledo continue to rise, expect these rates to increase further.

A return trip is currently paying $4.65 a mile and even though Chicago has seen a rise in rejections this month, this rate is 18 cents less than it was at the start of the month. The decrease in rates is from the likelihood of booking a load once in Toledo, thus pushing rates downward.

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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.