Portland, Ore.-based TransCore Freight Solution has launched a monthly Internet service to aid fresh produce brokers and trucking companies.

“We think we’re the only company providing such a report,” said Ken Harper, a spokesman for TransCore. “Since so much of the refrigerated traffic is driven by the produce season, we decided to do monthly produce reports to highlight the key market areas and the shifts.”

Among the key findings of the first report issued in June:

  • refrigerated trailer rates have since mid-April increased steadily in central and Southern California;
  • rates and freight volume climbed in south Florida in May but began to slip in June; and
  • capacity is tight and rates are high near Mexico border crossing.

The July report was scheduled to be released July 26.

“The whole idea behind our products is to provide some transparency and some rationality in pricing,” Harper said.

By using the Fruit and Vegetables by the Truckload report, brokers and carriers have access to a statistical picture of what’s going on in the market, he said.

TransCore specializes in truckload freight moved off contract in the U.S., which Harper said can be in any given month more than 33% of the loads. It uses invoices brokers have forwarded to carriers to calculate rates for the more than 18,000 channels – or routes – to and from 64 markets, he said. 

“From the brokers’ point of view, carriers don’t always know how to price their services,” Harper said. “We often find wild price variations.”

Changes in the fresh produce industry have added to the confusion.

“Unlike the past few recession years when loads were hard to come by, there’s now quite a bit of freight,” Harper said. “Brokers are not just looking for carriers, but for highly qualified carriers.”

Carriers are most often looking for back haul loads after delivering a contract load, he said, but back haul or spot market does not translate to cheap freight.

“This year, we’ve seen spot rates that have exceeded contract rates,” Harper said. “There’s opportunity out there.”

The report was created to cover the fresh produce season, but may continue year round if there’s sufficient interest, he said.

Brokers and carriers interested in subscribing to TransCore’s services may see an overview at www.transcoretrendlines.com.