Reefer markets took a leg up in August, supported by fundamentally strong demand, constrained capacity, and a renewed sense of confidence among carriers that now is the time to exercise pricing power.

 

In spot markets, carriers are falling off loads, naming their price, and managing yield. 3PLs are giving back and repricing freight, disrupting routing guides, severing relationships, and creating new opportunities for other providers of refrigerated transportation. Shippers desperate to secure capacity are awarding freight to 3PLs that are executing well in the current environment  – we’ve even heard of last-minute, cost-plus awards given to brokerages by shippers with hot freight.

 

For the time being, temperature-controlled carriers are for the most part honoring their commitments and moving contracted freight surge volumes and tenders in excess of agreements seem to be getting rejected the most. Repricing will come later in the fall when carriers’ negotiating leverage is undeniable and shippers understand the need to secure asset-based capacity, even if it means paying significantly higher prices.

 

In our view, the basic conditions driving demand, including higher grocery spending by consumers, are because of the coronavirus, not in spite of it, and will persist through the rest of the year.

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