Daily Tip: USDA Produce Truckload Spot Rates (AGRATE)

Ashley McAvoyDaily Tips

Did you know? You can gauge the all-in rates of produce shipments from different regions of the U.S. using SONAR’s AGRATE index.

Each day we’ll send you a daily tip designed to guide you to become a SONAR expert. If you have any questions, please contact your Customer Success Representative or email the team at cs@freightwaves.com.

USDA Produce Truckload Spot Rates (AGRATE) – This index provides a weekly average total truckload price (all-inclusive) organized in origin-destination markets or lane-level granularity and based on a USDA survey of produce shippers in the main agricultural regions of the U.S. The USDA will pause surveys in periods of low activity or once a harvest season ends.

SONAR Ticker: AGRATE.FATCHI

In the chart above, you can see the all-inclusive weekly average carrier rate has decreased to $6,725 for produce shipping from the Fresno market to the Chicago market.

Analysts: Analysts can utilize AGRATE data to gain visibility into the changing conditions of produce markets in different regions of the U.S. When the average all-in shipment rates begin to rise, it signals a region is headed into a peak harvest season, and when the average all-in shipment rates begin to fall, it generally indicates the end of a harvest season. 

Carriers: Carriers that move produce shipments can use the AGRATE index to gauge the spot market activities on produce shipments in the markets in which they operate. Visibility into the average all-in weekly rates can help carriers make decisions about which lanes they choose to accept or decline based on the rates for those lanes. It can also help carriers keep their rates adjusted to current market conditions.

Brokers: The AGRATE index can help brokers gauge peak season demand for produce shipments in different regions. When different markets begin to harvest produce, demand for capacity increases, applying upward pressure on spot market rates. Brokers can help carriers find loads to relocate their equipment to these peak markets, and help shippers find on-demand capacity in these peak markets to move their produce.

Shippers: The AGRATE index can help shippers predict capacity issues they might incur in the markets in which they operate. An increase in the AGRATE index can indicate tightening capacity, or a decrease in the AGRATE index can signal looser capacity for the region. Shippers can adjust tender lead times and rates to ensure their loads are covered.   

Following patterns of spot rate movement on produce shipments will give an indication of supply and demand for carriers that move produce. Increasing rates tend to imply there is an increasing demand for carriers that can haul produce (more than likely in temperature-controlled reefer trailers) in a market. Surging prices tend to correlate with specific harvests getting underway. A decrease in rates can indicate a drop in demand for carriers that haul produce, which could be a signal that the peak harvest season in that region is ending. 

1)  View the AGRATE Index in a chart to see the changes and trends in the carrier rates for produce on different lanes across the nation.   

  • Upward trends can indicate an increase in demand for carriers that move produce shipments.
  • Downward trends indicate a decrease in demand for carriers that move produce shipments.
  • Compare produce shipment rates on different lanes from an originating market, or compare produce lane rates from different markets. 

2)  View the AGRATE Index in a HeatMap to see all AGRATE lanes in SONAR, and sort the lanes by origin market, actual all-in rates, or percentage changes in the rates.

  • Click the Chart icon to the right of the index name to pull a chart on an index of interest.
  • An index shaded red indicates a decline in the average all-in carrier lane rate.
  • An index shaded green indicates an increase in the average all-in carrier lane rate.

Pro Tip: Use the AGRATE index in conjunction with ROTVI and ROTRI to help understand market conditions in a particular region of the U.S. 

If you have questions about the USDA Produce Truckload Spot Rates (AGRATE), please contact us at cs@freightwaves.com. 

Happy Hauling,

The FW Team