President and Chief Executive Officer at C.H. Robinson Worldwide
Thank you, Chuck, and good afternoon, everyone, and thanks for joining us today. During first quarter, we delivered record quarterly profits. Sequential improvement was driven by significant operating margin expansion in our North American Surface Transportation or NAST business as we improved the health of our contractual truckload business, continued to grow our truckload volume and improved the profitability of our less than truckload or LTL business.
Our Global Forwarding team continued delivering excellent service to our customers and collaborating with our carriers, driving more business to our platform. And finally, our Robinson Fresh, Managed Services and Europe Surface Transportation businesses all improved their top line growth and operating income on a year-over-year basis.
Now let me turn to a high-level overview of our NAST and Global Forwarding results. Our NAST adjusted operating margin in the first quarter was 36%, up 350 basis points year-over-year and 480 basis points sequentially, due to improved profitability in both our Truckload and LTL services. In our NAST Truckload business, our volume grew 4% year-over-year. And our adjusted gross profit or AGP per shipment increased 15% versus first quarter of last year and 6.5% sequentially as we repriced more of our contractual portfolio and continued to focus on profitable market share.
Truckload volume growth included year-over-year increases in both our contractual volume and our transactional volume. This included a 65% increase in volume that was driven through our proprietary dynamic pricing engine. And 65% of our spot or transactional business was priced through this dynamic pricing engine in the first quarter, delivering real-time pricing with capacity assurance from the largest network of truckload capacity in North America.
During the first quarter, we had an approximate mix of 60% contractual volume and 40% transactional volume. This is compared to a 55/45 mix in the same period last year. Routing guide depth of tender in our Managed Services business, which is a proxy for the overall market, was flat on a quarter-over-quarter basis at approximately 1.7 as it was for all of 2021.
But within the quarter this metric declined in February and March and reached 1.5 by the end of the quarter, as more capacity entered the market, demand begin to soften in March and first tender acceptance rates climbed across the industry. These changes in supply and demand drove a similar trend in dry van load-to-truck ratios, which increased from 6:1 at year-end to a high of 12:1 in early January, due to winter storms and rising cases of COVID. They then declined throughout the quarter to approximately 4:1 by the end of March.
This environment led to a decline in the truckload linehaul cost and price per mile in both February and March off of another record high in January. For the quarter, our average truckload linehaul cost paid to carriers, excluding fuel surcharges, increased approximately 21% compared to first quarter of last year. Our average linehaul rate billed to our customers, excluding fuel surcharges, increased approximately 20.5% year-over-year. This resulted in a year-over-year increase in our NAST truckload adjusted gross profit per mile of 17%.
The combination of our repricing efforts and the sequential decline in the cost of purchased transportation in February and March led to a sequential improvement in our AGP per mile in each month of the first quarter. In our NAST LTL business, record quarterly AGP of $150.7 million grew by $31 million or 25.5% year-over-year. through a 27% increase in AGP per order that was partially offset by a 1% decline in volume.
The Q1 decrease in LTL volume was mainly driven by a normalization of business levels as our LTL volumes in the first quarter of 2021 and continued to be bolstered by a few large customers that benefited from the stay-at-home trend during COVID. This contributed 15% LTL volume growth in the comparable quarter last year. Our value proposition and comprehensive set of LTL services continues to resonate with shippers of all sizes and across industry verticals.
In our Global Forwarding business, the team continues to provide creative solutions and excellent service in an environment in which demand still exceeds capacity. This resulted in year-over-year AGP growth in first quarter of $108 million or 50% and operating income growth of $77 million or 85%. Q1 marks the eighth consecutive quarter of year-over-year growth in total revenues, AGP and operating income.
Within these results, our Ocean Forwarding business generated Q1 AGP growth of $86 million or 64% year-over-year. This was driven by 52.5% growth in AGP per shipment and 7% growth in shipments, which topped a 27% volume growth in Q1 last year.
Global ocean demand continues to exceed the industry's overall capacity with limited vessel and container availability. Port congestion on the west coast improved during first quarter, but has been on the rise since the end of March. Due to customers desire to mitigate risk, ocean carriers have also shifted vessel capacity from the west coast to the east coast ports, partly due to continuing congestion issues and concerns surrounding potential labor disputes on the west coast.
COVID lockdowns in China have also led to a slowdown in export volumes from Asia to the US. And as of April 19, there were 506 vessels awaiting birthing space at Chinese ports, up 95% from the 260 waiting offshore in February. When exporting to the US returns to normal levels, congestion is likely to increase. And with limited new vessel deliveries in 2022, we expect capacity to be strained for much of the year. And although ocean rates may taper a little, we expect them to remain elevated.
Specific to Robinson, we have not seen a decrease in ocean cargo demand. Our win rates and our bookings are still strong. While beneficial cargo owners or BCOs continue to move more volume to us, and we already have a healthy pipeline of business left to implement.
Due to the growing strength of our global multimodal platform and the team's collaborative relationships with our carriers, we've been able to increase our capacity to better serve our customers. The Global Forwarding team has also leveraged our technology investments and data advantage to improve pricing velocity, efficiency and precision, which has enabled us to participate in more quotes and to turn them around faster.
In first quarter, we also launched universal vessel tracking and prediction to automate container tracking and arrival prediction, which in turn feeds into our predictive algorithms for inland transportation. Finally, our international airfreight business delivered AGP growth of $15 million or 34% year-over-year, driven by a 21.5% increase in AGP per metric ton and a 10% increase in metric tons shipped. This is on top of a 46% increase in metric tons shipped in the first quarter of last year.
Airfreight capacity remains tight due to limited belly capacity, but we do expect this to slowly improve in the summer. We're also starting to see some conversion of air freight back to ocean, but we expect some pent-up demand when China fully reopens. Overall, the forwarding team has a great foundation to continue providing excellent service to our customers and to work with them to leverage our flexible solutions for their shipping needs.
Our customers and our results are benefiting from the investments we've made in digitization, data and analytics as well as our global network, which supports our expansion initiatives in targeted geographies and industry verticals. For the enterprise, we continue to believe that through combining our digital products with our global network of logistics experts, our full suite of multimodal services and our information advantage from our scale and data, we're uniquely positioned in the marketplace to deliver for our shippers and partners regardless of the market conditions.
We believe our strategies and competitive advantages will enable us to create more value for customers and in turn, win more business, increase our market share and deliver higher profitability and return on invested capital.
With that, I'll turn the call over to Arun to walk you through the product innovation and development that's occurring across our platform.