The following insights are taken from a weekly discussion between Sunset’s nine US/MX branches.
Trends and discussions range from seasonal manufacturing and agriculture trends that affect available capacity to general insight into outside factors affecting freight volumes.
Below is a summary of the March 16 call:
FREIGHT VOLUMES & CAPACITY
- Diesel FSC average is at $3.191 this week, jumping up at .05 week-over-week. The initial forecast for $4.20 by April 1 is going to be exceeded. Projections to go into $4+ by summer.
- Reefer load rejections are still at an industry high of 48%, and there are pockets in GA/KS/AR/IL/NB/IA/IN/TN/WI seeing over 60%. Capacity is still tight and spot rates are still climbing. In the next three weeks, we are expecting to see this worsen substantially with the introduction of produce freight. The heaviest hit areas are IL/GA/OH, in and out.
- Dry Van posted volumes are temporarily flattening, but the rate is not adjusting with it. Capacity is still a concern across the U.S., especially with stimulus checks going out this week. Increased purchases will cause an additional surge for stock replenishment. At the moment, the more challenging areas to move freight in and out are IL/OH/TX.
- Heavy rain expected today. Some areas are still trying to dig out from Storm Xylia, but the real watch out is going to be flooding and tornadoes towards the SE. Another storm is expected to hit CA late this week.
- There has been a heavier shift to cost-plus utilization (truck cost in hand) versus spot to account for large variances in market and carrier rates.
- Several laws and regulation changes are being discussed that have and could impact the industry. Biden’s Transportation Review/ DOT HOS Changes/ FMCSA policy changes and regulatory review (Emergency Declaration extension to May 31, Commercial Driver Panel, Drug and Alcohol Clearinghouse)
- Ports and rails are at full capacity and ever growing. Many ports are showing the busiest spring on record. There are discussions regarding government funding for the rail system to ramp up flexibility and assist with truck shortages, but that isn’t on the docket to implement until summer. A few weeks from now, we will see a leveling which will lead customers to think the issue is resolved… that is a false representation. Shippers held back the last few weeks to try and save money on fees, so volume dropped waiting on ports to clear up. When it ramps back up, it will do so with higher than normal volumes, making the impact even worse than it is now. The slight leveling will lead to worse conditions within the month.
Industry data is pulled and summarized weekly from key proprietors and industry experts using multiple publications and sources. Some examples of the publications used are Freightwaves, Transport Topics, American Shipper, American Cranes & Transport, FMCSA, DOT, SC&RA. The information is discussed with Sunset Managing Directors and validated prior to publication of summary data in this posting.