Industry news

Flatbed and reefer trucking is one to watch heading into the new year. Around the Christmas period, there was a high tender rejection rate. It affected all three main trailer types. The market generally has too much capacity to handle. However, according to FreightWaves, this view may be generally true, but it is not true for everyone.

The Flatbed

The flatbed space has not done so well since the market collapsed in March 2022. Flatbeds are directly linked to manufacturing, energy, and construction, the sectors most hit by the pandemic. Supply chain issues and quarantines were the main causes. This means there is now less capacity during and after the tough times.

They always say that numbers never lie. It was clear with the increase in tender rejections in 2023. It stood at 10% compared to the 6 for reefer and 3% for van. In 2020 and 2021, flatbed rates were lower than the other two. In general, the rate was lower in 2023 just until some point. Flatbed activities tend to slow down during winter. This is mainly because of the weather and the nature of the freight. It doesn't always mean that the space loosens up. It is mainly down to the fact that capacity naturally goes down at this time of the year. Some people believe that the flatbed is stabilizing, but it generally needs time.

The Reefers

The reefers were on top between 2020 and 2021. That changed over time. They became as easy to lay a hand on, just like the dry vans. Since May, the section has picked up again. The tender rejection had hit rock bottom. They have managed to go slightly above the vans. Initially, the tender rejection rate was just below three. It stood at 2.7%. They have mainly improved thanks to the holidays. They hit higher numbers in comparison to 2022 at the same time.

The rates are always affected by several factors. Some perform depending on the seasons. Some are affected by regional activities. Some also tend to depend on the holidays. The Pacific Northwest is a good example. It is normally full of supply. Carriers in the region tend to avoid inbound freight. They fear the challenges they face getting out of the area. The terrain and the weather do not do them any favors. Demand has been quite unpredictable in the recent past. This indicates that the refer sector has had less capacity than the van side in 2023.

The market keeps changing for all transportation sectors. Since the pandemic, it has been more complex than before. The economy has been different. The market has also been quite different, with consumers shifting their demand towards services. As time goes by, things are slowly returning to normalcy. However, some factors that affect the market will forever remain constant. For instance, there are issues of regions, weather, and seasons. However, all modes of transport must find a way to cope since these are things that reoccur from year to year.

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