The snarled supply chains that manifested throughout the ocean transport sector in recent months, particularly on major trade lanes between the U.S., Europe and Asia (primarily China) are starting to ease somewhat, both in terms of freight rates and capacity, but it’s still tight overall.
Freightos reports that ocean freight rates from Asia to the U.S. West Coast are down 13 percent from their high in February, while rates on the Asia-U.S. East Coast trade lane are down 5 percent from their high.
According to Lloyd’s Loading List, a move by some shippers to divert cargo from the U.S. West Coast to the East Coast may be influencing the drop in ocean freight rates.
Meanwhile, DAT said this week that, “Truckload freight pricing rose and national average load-to-truck ratios for dry van and refrigerated freight hit record highs in February as severe weather across much of the United States distressed supply chains and disrupted transit times.”
Dry van spot rates averaged $2.41 per mile in February, up from $2.36 in January, and 63 cents higher than February 2020, said DAT.
“Increases were even higher in the temperature-controlled sector, where reefers were in demand to keep traditional dry freight from freezing,” said DAT.
It’s worth noting that wine shippers who may typically use dry vans for transporting their wines, are forced to use reefer trailers during extremely cold weather to prevent the wine from freezing.
Reefer spot rates averaged $2.70 per mile in February, up 9 cents compared to January and 62 cents higher than the same period last year.
DAT’s market outlook for this month is “for spot rates and truckload freight volumes to fall from record highs, but remain elevated as they track a more normal pattern of activity.”
The air cargo sector is likewise experiencing a slight easing in rates, but analysts say rates will remain elevated for the foreseeable future.
Carriers are trying to balance demand, rising fuel prices, and revenue from passengers versus cargo, with equipment and capacity. It’s not easy.