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DAT Truckload Volume Index: Volume Sets January Record

Spot and contract pricing remained soft as seasonal patterns returned

BEAVERTON, Ore., February 21, 2023--(BUSINESS WIRE)--The DAT Truckload Volume Index hit new highs for January, indicating solid seasonal demand for truckload services, said DAT Freight & Analytics, operators of the industry’s largest online freight marketplace and DAT iQ data analytics service.

National average van and reefer rates slipped month over month and were down more than 30% compared to January 2022, when pricing was at historic peaks.

"Volatility gave way to seasonality last month," said Ken Adamo, DAT’s Chief of Analytics. "After a gangbusters January last year, truckload rates followed a more typical pattern and volumes were remarkably steady."

At 223, the DAT Truckload Volume Index (TVI) for van freight was 2.8% higher than in December and up 2.8% year over year. The refrigerated ("reefer") TVI was 174, 3.0% higher than in December and up 3.6% year over year. The flatbed TVI was 218, up 10.7% compared to December and 12.4% higher year over year.

Lower fuel prices bring relief

National average spot van and reefer rates dipped in January but have been within a 30-cent range since June 2022.

  • The spot van rate was $2.38 per mile, down 2 cents compared to December, and the average reefer rate slipped 3 cents to $2.78 per mile. The flatbed rate increased by 2 cents to $2.76 per mile.

  • The line-haul rate for van freight averaged $1.83 a mile, up 1 cent month over month, and the reefer line-haul rate was unchanged at $2.18 a mile. The flatbed line-haul rate rose 4 cents to $2.09 a mile, the highest monthly average since September.

  • Line-haul rates subtract an amount equal to an average fuel surcharge. In January, the surcharge averaged 55 cents a mile for van freight, 60 cents for reefers and 67 cents for flatbeds.

  • National average fuel surcharge amounts were their lowest since February 2022, when diesel prices spiked.

For carriers, pricing power slipped

Van and reefer load-to-truck ratios declined, meaning less pricing power for carriers:

  • The national average van load-to-truck ratio fell from 3.4 to 3.0, meaning there were 3.0 loads for every van posted to the DAT One marketplace last month.

  • The reefer ratio averaged 4.9, down from 5.7 in December.

  • The flatbed ratio was 12.5, up from 9.8. It was the second-lowest flatbed ratio for January, after 2016 (6.6).

Contract pricing declined

  • The average shipper-to-broker van rate was $2.92 a mile, down 4 cents compared to December and 7 cents lower year over year.

  • The average contract reefer rate was $3.22 a mile, down 2 cents and 7 cents higher year over year, while the average flatbed rate was unchanged at $3.53 a mile, up 19 cents year over year.

  • The gap between the average contract and spot rates narrowed in January. The contract rate was 54 cents higher than the spot rate in January, compared to 56 cents in December. The contract reefer rate was 43 cents higher, while the contract flatbed rate was 78 cents higher.

About the DAT Truckload Volume Index

The DAT Truckload Volume Index reflects the change in the number of loads with a pickup date during that month; the actual index number is normalized each month to accommodate any new data sources without distortion. A baseline of 100 equals the number of loads moved in January 2015, as recorded in DAT RateView, a truckload pricing database and analysis tool with rates paid on an average of 3 million loads per month.

Spot truckload rates are negotiated for each load and paid to the carrier by a freight broker. National average spot rates are derived from payments to carriers by freight brokers, third-party logistics providers and other transportation buyers for hauls of 250 miles or more with a pickup date during the month reported. DAT’s rate analysis is based on $150 billion in annualized freight transactions.

About DAT Freight & Analytics

DAT Freight & Analytics operates the largest truckload freight marketplace in North America. Shippers, transportation brokers, carriers, news organizations and industry analysts rely on DAT for market trends and data insights based on more than 500 million freight matches and a database of $150 billion in annual market transactions.

Founded in 1978, DAT is a wholly owned subsidiary of Roper Technologies (NYSE:ROP), a diversified technology company and constituent of the S&P 500 and Fortune 500 indices.

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Annabel Reeves
Corporate Communications, DAT Freight & Analytics; 503-501-0143