Top 100 Private Carriers Adjust to Freight Slowdown

Carriers on the TT100 List Have Kept Busy Despite a Softer Freight Environment
PepsiCo and Frito-Lay trucks
Trucks owned by PepsiCo and snack division Frito-Lay parked. (PepsiCo)

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From food service distributors to the in-house trucking divisions of major retailers, the largest private motor carriers in North America generally have remained busy even as the broader freight market has cooled.

More than half of the companies that qualified for the Transport Topics Top 100 Private Carriers list expanded their private fleets during the past year, but many others maintained their current fleet size or shed tractors at a time when for-hire truck capacity is abundant and available at lower rates.

Some of the strongest examples of growth in the private fleet segment are also some of the biggest names on the Top 100 list, which ranks companies based on the number of tractors in their private fleet operations.

Beverage and snack food giant PepsiCo once again ranks No. 1 after expanding its private fleet to 12,590 tractors, an increase of more than 1,500 from a year earlier.

Not far behind is No. 2 Walmart Inc., which established a program last year to train in-store and warehouse employees to become professional truck drivers. That new driver pipeline is one way that the retailer is bolstering its private fleet, which now operates 11,361 tractors and 81,598 trailers.

Seth Clevenger


Another fast-growing private carrier is food and beverage distributor Sysco, which remains No. 3 on the list with 9,345 tractors.

Moving into the Top 10 this year is Inc., which jumped to No. 9 after ranking No. 19 on last year’s list. The online retailer is now operating 3,909 tractors, but those power units are still dwarfed by the company’s massive fleet of 40,677 trailers.

Meanwhile, mergers, acquisitions and spinoffs continue to alter the business landscape for private carriers.

In the grocery sector, Kroger Co.’s proposed acquisition of Albertsons Cos., first announced in October 2022, is still pending approval from antitrust regulators. If that deal ultimately succeeds, the merger would unite the No. 38- and No. 40-ranked private fleet operators.

Another example is Darling Ingredients, an Irving, Texas-­based company that converts edible byproducts and food waste into products such as renewable fuel, animal feed and fertilizer. The company climbed to No. 30 on the list, up from No. 47 a year ago, following its 2022 acquisition of Winchester, Va.-based rendering company Valley Proteins.

A new name on the Top 100 this year is No. 70 Knife ­River Corp., which provides construction materials such as concrete and asphalt for industrial projects. The Bismarck, N.D.-based firm became an independent public company in June after completing its spinoff from MDU Resources, which ranked No. 67 on last year’s list.

The updated Top 100 also features four additional newcomers, including No. 73 MasTec Inc., an infrastructure engineering construction firm. The Coral Gables, Fla.-based company builds pipelines, oil field equipment, electricity towers, wind farms and other utility structures.

Joining the list at No. 96 is Nine Energy Service, a publicly traded oil field services company based in Houston that operates facilities in North America’s major oil and gas producing regions.

Another newcomer is snack food distributor McKee Foods Corp. at No. 97. The Collegedale, Tenn.-based company is best known for its Little Debbie snack cakes and other products under the Sunbelt Bakery, Drake’s and Fieldstone Bakery brands.

Just cracking the list is No. 100 Lipari Foods, a specialty food distributor based in Warren, Mich. The company delivers foods such as bakery, deli and dairy products, confections, meat, seafood and international foods to grocery and convenience stores in 32 states.

Transport Topics assembles its Top 100 Private Carriers ranking and accompanying industry sector lists based on responses to an annual fleet survey, correspondence with com­pany management, and public carrier registration data filed with the Federal Motor Carrier Safety ­Administration.

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