Three main cycles drive the U.S. truckload market: seasonal demand, annual procurement and market capacity. The first—seasonal demand—is relatively easy to observe and on full display during the summer months. With Memorial Day (the unofficial start of summer shipping) in the rear view, carriers need to prepare for the unique set of challenges and opportunities that the next few months will bring.
Where to Find the Hottest Summer Freight
Similar to produce season, food and beverage shipments tend to start in the South and move north as the weather gets warmer. Beef production in central plain states will also play a role in the coming months. With temperatures already ideal for food and beverage in the southeast, southwest and west coast, look to these regions for activity.
Keep in mind we are currently in a deflationary market environment, so the overall impact of seasonal freight on spot rates will probably not be as significant compared to the past two summers.
Summer 2018 Freight Volume Density
May – June
There are a lot of food and beverage production facilities in Mexico, so U.S. cities along the border are focal points earlier in the summer as retailers place order to build up inventory. Major cities include: Laredo, TX; McAllen, TX; Nogales, AZ; Calexico, CA.
Wine shipments out of California and the pacific northwest are another notable commodity with increased late spring and early summer shipping. Heading into June, as beverage shipments increase, expect to produce demand to subside.
June – July
Texas and California will be major sources of outbound freight. Beer shipping from the border remains strong and demand for beef out of northern Texas and the central plains ramps up as the country hits peak BBQ season.
July – August
After the 4th of July, summertime demand for food and beverage freight slows down, while demand for back-to-school and retail loads picks up. Accordingly, the need for dry van trailers will increase while reefer demand drops.
Three Tips to Get More Volume This Summer
- Move Refrigerated Freight
If you have available drivers and the ability to invest in refrigerated trailers, summer is a great time to pick up more reefer loads. Investing in different trailer types can be a delicate balance, but it can be a great way to access more (typically higher paying) loads.
- Honor Your Commitments
This is especially important in the current deflationary market, where there is more carrier capacity than shipper demand, making competition fierce. It can be tempting to move all your trucks to the most active freight regions to grab the best paying seasonal loads, but remember that food and beverage season is temporary.
- Provide Load Visibility
Shippers prefer working with carriers who provide visibility into their freight’s location. At Coyote, we provide carriers in our network with four easy and free options to do this.
Every year, summertime presents opportunities to carriers. Though the current market may limit seasonal freight availability, carriers that understand the trends and take a few simple steps will be in a better position to out-haul the competition this summer.
Looking for ways to get more loads and stand out from your competition this summer?