Freight Insights for Week of March 22

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 23 call:


  • Diesel FSC average is at $3.194 this week, jumping up right at .003 week-over-week. Prices will level off for a small period, but expected to climb aggressively again late April with increased travel.
  • Reefer capacity is feeling a temporary loosening, but it is not impacting rates with any expected reductions. States that are still struggling (MI/UT/IA/KS/GA/AR).  Produce movement is ramping up, but hasn’t caught up fully with the capacity flattening yet, which we expect in the next week.   
  • Dry Van – Carrier rejection trend is still on the rise, with only a few pockets of stabilized rates as freight and products shift.  States struggling the most (IA/MN/OH/MO/TN/AR).
  • Flatbed – Steel Manufacturing and Lumber are colliding when it comes to open capacity.  COGS tied to both are on the rise with this as one of the driving factors.
  • Heavy rain expected today/tomorrow in Midwest. Flooding is a big concern especially in southeastern states. Another large cell expected to hit CA Thursday, bringing almost double the rainfall amount of the current cell in the Midwest today. 
  • Canada is getting ready for a soft ELD transition for any trucks crossing border; start is 4/1 with a June deadline.  U.S. ELD regulations will not be enough for Canadian compliance so carriers are scrambling to get things ready for the transition. Not all are aware of the changes needed, so make sure to communicate to your cross-border partners.
  • Ten (10) digit dialing system will impact 37 states.  For key areas, local calls will require the additional 3 digit area code to be typed in for call completion.  This falls in line with a new national “988” National Suicide Prevention Lifeline.  Start of the conversion is 4/24.
  • IM rates are staying artificially inflated due to actions of intermodal partners out of Los Angeles.
  • Heavier shift to cost-plus utilization (truck cost in hand) vs 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/ ABC test/ 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 there is an expectation for 6 more months before congestion will begin to clear.
  • A MEGA VESSEL of Evergreen, Ever Given ran aground on the Suez Canal and is waiting for rescue. Although you may not have any container on this ship, with a MEGA VESSEL stuck in the middle of the canal, there are a large number of ships behind that cannot pass through the canal. This time the accident will affect the cargo(es) going to USEC and European Ports. The accident will also delay the empty container and vessel that return, therefore we expect serious space/equipment problems in the next few weeks, especially for shipments to USEC.

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.

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