Slight truck shortages have been reported by the U.S. Department of Agriculture for Mexican produce crossings and shipments of potatoes and onions in Idaho, Washington, and Wisconsin.
The USDA reported that refrigerated truck rates in the lower Rio Grande Valley increased from
4% to 19% in the latest week, depending on destination.
Late December truck availability was influenced by normal seasonal capacity shrink related to the holidays, said Seth Konkle, general manager of the Scotlynn USA Division of the Scotlynn Group, Indianapolis.
Still, he said the overall truck outlook was vastly improved compared with a year ago, when some routes were demand $5 per mile.
“Overall rates are still pretty stable,” he said. “It is nothing that is not manageable.”
Konkle speculated 2019 could be a stable year for freight rates.
“We’re kind of looking for this little this quarter to kind of set the kind of set the lead for 2019 and I think 2019 is going to be a pretty stable year,” he said.
“The smaller carriers, the owner-operators and smaller trucking companies are showing a little bit more loyalty versus chasing the big dollars,” he said, noting the smaller operators are sticking with the shippers and brokers they have been running with.
Konkle said shippers and truckers have mostly adjusted to Electronic Logging Device regulations, with rates stabilizing at higher levels and buyers making allowances for longer transit times from the West Coast to the East Coast.
“I think a lot of shippers have made an effort to get an extra day (of transit) from their buyers,” he said, and also have pushed to get trucks loaded earlier in the day for long routes. Some use more expensive team drivers for shorter transit times.
Truck rates will move seasonally higher in south Texas and other border crossings in the weeks ahead, but that’s typical for this time of year, he said.