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Air France-KLM-Martinair Cargo expects continued growth in perishables transport

Air France-KLM-Martinair Cargo and its partners serve the main freight corridors for perishables between Schiphol and perishable exporting countries such as Colombia, Ecuador, South America and Kenya.

As part of its constant bid to improve its sustainability, Air France-KLM-Martinair Cargo is experimenting with temperature control elements throughout the supply chain. Perishables director Pieter Fopma said trials have been carried out on routes from South Africa and Latin America.

“Experiments have been conducted in close cooperation with forwarders and shippers, for instance on the Nairobi-Amsterdam route: together with a cool chain consultancy firm, using their independent market-leading quality assessment services.”

“We are currently in the process of assessing, benchmarking and optimising the integral flower supply chain from farm to final customer with the aim of reducing time temperature exposure in degree hours. Furthermore, we work very closely with Wageningen University, Food Quality Management Logistics/Innovation, to support us on cool chain improvement, for example on the trade lanes for sensitive berries,” he said.

Air France-KLM-Martinair Cargo and its partners serve the main freight corridors for perishables between Schiphol and perishable exporting countries such as Colombia, Ecuador, South America and Kenya. “Given the strategic position of Schiphol we are one of the main capacity providers (both on lower and on main deck) to the worldwide perishable industry, with a steady worldwide market share,” Fopma told ED. “Our full freighters (currently a mix of MD11’s, B747-400 F’s and B777 F’s) can carry 80-100 tons of perishables and we re-export via Amsterdam-Schiphol, primarily to various European destinations, Russia, China and North America.”

Challenging targets set by perishables forwarders for 2016

“As there has been an increase in demand for perishable produce globally, this has led to producing countries expanding land and diversifying products. In addition, the buyer’s trend is to buy locally grown and organic. The popularity of berries’ family produce, has led to countries like Peru starting to produce blueberries some time ago. We also see the production of vegetables in various countries is further improving and increasing like for example the Mexican bell peppers. African produce is also developing rapidly, which will have consequences for exports to the Middle-East in the long run,” Fopma said.

“Now that the socio-economic situation globally is improving, we are hopeful that the economy will further improve as well. With the health trends in the perishable markets that we have already seen, we are optimistic that we will continue to see growth worldwide. Although we see that some markets of interest are changing, we continue to receive requests from local specialised forwarders and large global forwarders, some of which have further strengthened their vertical organisation for perishables and have set very challenging targets for 2016 and the years to come.”

Increased quality demands

“Given the nature of the product as being very sensitive to temperature deviations and throughput time, customers become increasingly quality conscious and are increasingly demanding more elaborate and stringent cool chain requirements throughout the cool chain. Furthermore, we have to factor in inherent process variations due to different aircraft, product varieties and origins. Each station has different ‘context factors’, such as climate, distance from the runway to the warehouses amongst others, so these must be considered. This is compounded by increasing demand from the industry for standardisation of quality, meaning variability needs to be minimised as far as possible,” Fopma said.

“In this process, tripartite communication is essential with both forwarders and shippers. They are a source of information and tell us about their needs, which gives us a better understanding of the desired high quality product we need to deliver. The input leads to better quality onboard the plane, a reliable and sustainable network and the control of the complete cool chain. In summary, transporting perishables requires dedication, expertise and most of all a reliable product: In that sense we really stand out from our competition and we have a reputation to maintain,” he said.

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Holland offers a unique approach to produce and logistics


“If you are a logistics provider in one of the busiest ports in the world, efficiency can become a key factor in the operational process.” So says Antonio Oken, managing director of Opticool. Located right in the heart of Rotterdam Port, this company is a good example of a logistics operator dedicated to stevedoring, fresh logistics and fresh packing. It has made it its mission to keep things basic and transparent. “Logistics is logical thinking. It has to be straightforward because that reduces costs and increases quality,” Oken said. The launch of innovative, cost-reducing ideas is paramount in this process. “We want to remain a pioneer in the logistics process.” One way of doing just that is to use inland shipping between the Rotterdam deep sea terminals and the ports of Nieuw Mathenesse, where Opticool is located, instead of trucks. This method enables quicker handling of the containers since waiting times at the terminal and traffic jams are avoided. The environment benefits from this way of transportation, too. Depending on the terminal from which the journey starts, ECT or Delta, a reduction in CO2 emissions of 84% and 57% cent respectively is accomplished as well as a 40% reduction in freight movement. “In our green business operations, the use of inland shipping is of great importance in promoting our organisation-wide vision.” Oken said.

Unburdening the supplier and retail buyer

“We focus on unburdening our customers. The Rotterdam port is a platform into Europe that everyone can join. It’s our job to organise the logistics process as fast, as cheaply and as well as possible for the people using this platform,” says Antonio Oken. Having started only 10 year ago, Opticool has created a young, flexible team and is now firmly established as one of the leading service providers in the field of fresh fruit storage and handling in the port of Rotterdam. From its premises in the port, with a capacity of 19,000 m² of refrigerated storage spread over 20 cold rooms and a total of 27 dock shelters, Opticool offers a full range of logistics services from the arrival of the goods in the ports of Rotterdam or Antwerp until the time of delivery. “As soon as your containers arrive at one of our 20 cold stores, the fruit is checked for temperature, packaging and general quality. Then, by way of a unique barcode, the pallets are registered in Opticool’s warehouse management system, linking our unique pallets’ ID to its own pallet ID. This enables full tracking and tracing of any pallet,” Oken explained. Since last year, Opticool has also been a proud member of the Agromerchant Group from the US.

More market stability for Dutch produce

Johan Hensen, managing director of Haluco, one of the leading Dutch growers and exporters’ organisations, looks back on a reasonably good season. “2015 was a positive year. From the spring to July we had more exports,” he said. And he predicts a positive future for the Dutch horticultural sector; thanks in part to innovation. “Dutch growers are leading the way in innovation and quality upgrades. We are still amazed by them,” Hensen said. Another field of innovation is improvement in supply chain management. Thinking about how the chain changes and connecting with customers’ wishes is becoming increasingly important. An additional bright point for the future is the increasing balance between supply and demand. “The flows sold in Eastern Europe are becoming more sustained and there is more structure in the sales. The demands that purchasers make call for a long-term relationship with growers, too. That creates stability.” 

New markets for peppers and tomatoes

In terms of produce, besides bulk products like block peppers, which take up 90% of production, and the larger vine tomato, there is increased demand for the sweet pointed pepper and the finer segments of tomatoes. Haluco sells its fresh produce all over Europe and is positive about new markets as well. “Sales into the US and Canada continue and Asian borders are opening for Dutch products” says Hensen. The opening up of far-away markets puts an increasing emphasis on quality and consumer-orientation. “The costs in reaching those markets are high so the products will have to comply with the highest quality demands,” Hensen said. 

Good import market such as citrus & stone fruit too

Recognised for its expertise in the stone fruit category, Wilko Fruit today supplies the large majority of supermarket chains in the Netherlands. “Our sales made big progress in 2015 and supplied 13 retailers in the country,” states Wilko v.d. Swaard, the company’s founder. He confirms the increasing consumption of stone fruit, largely due to the rising level of eating qualities in the new varieties and the larger volumes available from Spain in particular. “The Iberian peninsula provides us with 90% of our sourcing for all categories: cherries, peaches, nectarines, flat fruit and apricots”. Wilko Fruit runs its own office in Valencia for the quality checks and packaging. The Dutch specialist makes a selection of the best growers from the different provinces of Huelva, Seville, Murcia and Lerida. Citrus is the second category traded by Wilko, followed by apples, melons and grapes. The best selection is supplied under the “Gaudias” brands, which enjoys a good reputation on the market. Among its novelties and exclusives there are “Chocolate” navelinas, with a brown colour and an exquisite taste. It is packed in 6 kg boxes of 50×30cm. About 10 years ago in an orchard of navels near the WilkoFruit offices in Valencia, some completely brown fruit appeared on a branch of a navel tree. An analysis was carried out and it was decided to go ahead with a mutation. They grafted it and the result was the brown orange we have today. The “Chocolate navel” has the following characteristics: it is highly aromatic, low acidity, very sweet to eat, has a rather long shelf life and a good proportion of juice. Wilkofruit began selling this orange several years ago and has seen greater success every year. “When December comes, our clients ask us when we can send them the first ones.” Today, Wilkofruit sells this orange exclusively in Europe except in Germany, where the producer has an exclusive agreement with a major supermarket chain. „


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Fruit Logistica’s Logistics Hub

Logistics Hub is a new series of events presented by Fruit Logistica where producers, exporters and traders will find the information they need to help them take the right logistical decisions for the transportation of their goods.

The place to learn the latest on fresh produce handling and logistics, Fruit Logistica’s Logistics Hub will feature a new series of events held over the course of the Berlin fair, February 3-5.

“This is where producers, exporters and traders will find the information they need to help them take the right logistical decisions for the transportation of their goods,” organisers said in a press release.

To be located in Hall B, CityCube, Stand C-04, the Logistics Hub offers presentations simultaneously interpreted into English, German, French, Italian and Spanish and participation is free.

Topics to be addressed include:

  • “Understanding the Ins and Outs of Logistics”
  • “Developing Logistics Solutions for Trade Between Emerging Markets”
  • “Air to Sea Transport: Risks and Pitfalls”
  • “Innovative Perishable Logistics Concepts for the Emerging Produce E-commerce Markets”
  • “Strategic Cold Chain Investments and Examining New Outsourcing Potential”
  • “Reefer Claims: Addressing a Classic Clash of Interests”
  • “Focusing on the First Mile: Country and Produce Case Study Africa”
  • “Focusing on the First Mile: Country and Produce Case Study Latin America”
  • “Frozen Vegetables – Opportunities, Challenges and Threats”
  • ‘Anything, anywhere, anytime’: What does this mean for the fresh produce sector?”

For more details:

Pantos Logistics – Sea freigh image: By Romlogistics (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

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Latest technology helps Alfil Logistics protect perishables

Alfil Logistics has multimodal perishables platforms in Murcia, Madrid, Barcelona, Valencia, Dubai and Shanghai.

The multimodal operator is known for its innovation in order to provide the most efficient use of resources for the client’s benefit.

The use of smart glasses is just one of the ways in which Alfil Logistics has innovated to maximise the maintenance of fresh produce quality between origin and delivery point. With the augmented reality the glasses provide, this Spanish multimodal logistics leader also aims to increase both the safety and quality of its worldwide logistics operations, general director Jaume Bonavia has told ED.

Alfil Logistics has multimodal perishables platforms in Murcia, Madrid, Barcelona, Valencia, Dubai and Shanghai. It provides regular services by sea, air and land (road and rail) in Europe, Northern Africa and further abroad. Destinations include China, Dubai, Saudi Arabia, Canada and the US. “There are also door-to-door logistics services by sea and air in the Middle East,” Bonavia said.

Founded in 2000, Alfil has become a benchmark in the logistics industry in Spain and last year won the El Vigía prize there for best multimodal logistics imitative. With its multimodal logistics capacity, it finds the best combination, according to current needs, of trains, trucks and ships to meet clients’ demands and enhance their processes efficiency. The company has access to extensive infrastructure, including part of Spain’s rail network, a large fleet of trucks, and the possibility of using sea transport to deliver goods. Rail access is included inside its multimodal facilities. It currently operates more than 1,000 trucks a day, 15 entire trains a week and 100 sea shipments a week,” Bonavia said. “We also have tax and customs warehouses to offer our customers an international service.”

Commitment to quality, sustainability

To guarantee its clients with the highest safety and quality in its operations, Alfil Logistics has the main certifications, such as ISO 9001, OEA and the UNO Association’s Seal of Excellence in Transportation. “We have recently obtained the ISO 14064-1 certification, which measures the carbon footprint and enables emissions of greenhouse gases (GHG) to be controlled and managed. This allows us to provide added value to multi-modal shipments, which are already more environmentally friendly,” Bonavia said. Alfil Logistics’ other sustainability initiatives include the use of LP gas for its forklifts and solar panels and LED lights in its warehouses.

In terms of other goods, Alfil Logistics ships by air to Dubai, Shanghai and Hong Kong, and by ship to:

  • Santiago de Chile
  • Dubai    
  • China: Shanghai, Fuzhou, Shenzhen, Wenzhou, Ningbo, Xiamen
  • Melbourne
  • Kuwait        
  • Damman  (UAE)
  • Mariel (Cuba)
  • Altamira (Mexico)
  • Douala (Cameroon)
  • Incheon (Korea)
  • Ho Chi Minh (Vietnam)    
  • Tripoli (Lybia)
  • Tunisia
  • Karachi (Pakistan)
  • Jordan
  • Mersin (Turkey)
  • Algiers (Algeria)
  • Singapore
  • Manila (the Philippines)

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Lufthansa Cargo sees more perishables transport via Frankfurt

Lufthansa Cargo reports ongoing growth in the transport of berries to Europe from Argentina, Chile, Mexico and, as of this year, Peru, especially during the high demand period for berries during the European and North American winter time.

Lufthansa Cargo reports ongoing growth in the transport of berries to Europe from Argentina, Chile, Mexico and, as of this year, Peru, especially during the high demand period for berries during the European and North American winter time. Uta Frank, product manager for the company’s Frankfurt-based Fresh/td perishables division, told ED that transport of strawberries from Egypt is also developing strongly, along with ongoing high demand from Brazil for all kind of fruits.

“We have noted an increase in deliveries for shipments coming from Brazil, Ecuador and Kenya which are arriving in Frankfurt by freighter and will be transported to different European countries and Perishable Import Stations such as London, Amsterdam and, as of recently, also to Russia,” Frank also said.

Employee checks a consignment of edible flowers at the Perishable Center, Frankfurt (Photographer: Stefan Wildhirt)

“We are noticing an increase not only in flowers but now also fruit and vegetables being transported to Russia, e.g. from Kenya, maybe due to the new restrictions on goods from Turkey. But we can also see that many customers are interested in direct flights to Russia instead of transporting them by truck. Additionally, we are now seeing trial shipments by sea for flowers from Kenya, as well as some blackberries from South American countries. So it will might be interesting in the future to the developments, but we are still expecting demand for air freight,” she said.

Vacuum-cooling used to extend shelf life

Optimising the appearance and shelf-life of produce is Fresh/td’s main focus, Frank said. With that aim, and in cooperation with the Perishable Center Frankfurt (PCF), it offers the possibility of vacuum-cooling in Frankfurt. “This is a service preferably used for flowers subject to a long transport time overall, coming from South America or Africa and then facing another long trip from Frankfurt to their final destination. The vacuum-cooler can cool down two PMC pallets (96×125 inches) in just 30 minutes. Its fast yet gentle cooling helps maximise the lifespan of sensitive, perishable goods such as flowers. A fast cooler is also available in the PCF for use with fruit such as berries.

“In order to keep products such as flowers, plants, fruit and vegetables in good condition and to even extend their shelf life, the combined effort and co-operation of all partners in the supply-chain is becoming more and more important, from the farm right through until delivery to the consumer,” she said.

Employee checks a consignment of mangoes at the Perishable Center, Frankfurt (Photographer: Stefan Wildhirt)

Frankfurt’s role as Europe’s perishable imports hub

Founded in 2014 to strengthen Frankfurt’s position as one of Europe’s key perishable import hubs, the Air Cargo Community Frankfurt and its working group ‘Perishable Professionals’ continue to work towards this aim, especially to speed up processes in Frankfurt during transit or for import shipments. “We have again improved our Fresh/td To-Door Services together with our partner CCG DE GmbH (Cool Chain Group) to reach a seamless supply chain which is safe and transparent,” Frank said.

Lufthansa’s global perishables capacity

Lufthansa Cargo ranks among the world’s leading cargo carriers. In the 2014 business year, the airline transported around 1.7 million tons of freight and mail and sold 8.6 billion revenue tonnage-kilometers. The cargo carrier serves around 300 destinations in 100 countries with its own fleet of freighters, the belly capacities of passenger aircraft operated by Lufthansa and Austrian Airlines, and an extensive road feeder service network. The bulk of the cargo business is routed through Frankfurt Airport. Five B777F and twelve active MD-11F three-engine wide-body long-haul aircraft currently make up the heart of the Lufthansa Cargo fleet.

“With our MD-11 freighter we are serving the main perishables regions such as Central and South America (Brazil, Ecuador, Mexico) and Africa (Kenya, Egypt). Out of Frankfurt, larger shipments will be transported by using our Road Feeder Service with temperature-controlled trucks to European destinations or together with our delivery partner for Fresh/td To-Door, the Cool Chain Group, we are delivering directly to the final consignee in Europe,” Frank said.

Photos: Lufthansa Cargo

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New partnership between ports of Antwerp and Guangzhou

The Port of Antwerp said the twinning agreement also dovetails perfectly with the ‘One Belt One Road’ philosophy announced by China in 2013 which aims to improve connections between the main Chinese industrial cities and trade centres elsewhere in Asia, the Middle East and Europe.

Antwerp, the second-largest port in Europe, and Guangzhou, number 8 in the world, are to collaborate more closely under a twinning agreement signed on December 10 in the Chinese port city.

The two cities had already had a close relationship as under an agreement signed in 2010 between Guangzhou and the Port of Antwerp training centre APEC, various groups of shipping professionals from the Guangzhou port  have attended tailor-made courses at APEC. The twinning agreement will take the relationship between the ports to a new level and, among other things, include commercial collaboration.

For instance, there are currently two shipping services between North-West Europe and China calling at Guangzhou and Antwerp. “By developing a joint marketing approach the respective port authorities aim to get both ports included in several more loops,” the Port of Antwerp said in a press release.

Also, in collaboration with APEC and three other partners, a joint training institute under the name of Guangzhou-Antwerp Port Training & Consultancy Co. Ltd will be set up to offer courses in port operations for professionals from Asia, Africa and Latin America.

Other action points in the twinning agreement include the exchange of information on port development and best practices for sustainable enterprise in a port environment.

The Port of Antwerp said the twinning agreement also dovetails perfectly with the ‘One Belt One Road’ philosophy announced by China in 2013 which aims to improve connections between the main Chinese industrial cities and trade centres elsewhere in Asia, the Middle East and Europe.

It also said there are strong similarities between the ports of Antwerp and Guangzhou, both of which are located quite a long distance inland and multifunctional ports with excellent trimodal connections with a rich hinterland.

With an annual freight volume of 510 million tons including 16.63 million TEU, Guangzhou is one of the main container ports in China, acting mainly for transshipment of fuel stuffs, raw materials and commercial goods.

Image of Guangzhou skyline by jo.sau (Flickr) [CC BY 2.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

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Logistics Hub to make its debut at Fruit Logistica 2016

Supply chains are becoming longer and more complicated, sometimes spanning several continents. The right choice of logistic services can determine whether or not a fresh produce consignment can be sold.

Logistics Hub is a new three-day series of events focused on fresh produce handling and logistics that will be held at Fruit Logistica, February 3-5 2016.

According to a press release by the event organisers, the sessions will address ten current issues relating to the logistics chain. It is where “producers, exporters and traders will find the information they need to help them take the right logistic decisions when it comes to transporting their goods.”

Alex von Stempel, an independent consultant in fresh produce logistics has designed and organised Logistics Hub and will moderate the event, to be held in the CityCube Berlin, Hall B, Stand C-04.

Session topics include:

  • Strategic Cold Chain Investments and examining new Outsourcing Potential
  • Reefer Claims: Addressing a Classic Clash of Interests
  • Focusing on the First Mile: Country and Produce Case Study Africa
  • Focusing on the First Mile: Country and Produce Case Study Latin America
  • Frozen Vegetables – Opportunities, Challenges and Threats
  • ‘Anything, anywhere, anytime’: What does this mean for the fresh produce sector?

For more detail:

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The Belgian port of Antwerp is headed for a record year

Antwerp Port Authority reports steady growth in the volume of container freight (up 8.0% in TEU and 5.4% in tonnage) and of liquid bulk (up 7.9%).

The port of Antwerp is on track to close 2015 with a total volume of 200 million tons of freight handled after hitting 156.5 million tons in the first nine months of this year, up 5.5% on the same period last year.

In a press release, the Antwerp Port Authority also said there has also been steady growth in the volume of container freight (up 8.0% in TEU and 5.4% in tonnage) and of liquid bulk (up 7.9%).

source: Port of Antwerp

Containers and breakbulk

Expressed in TEU (twenty-foot equivalent units, i.e. standard containers) the port’s container volume was 7.26 million TEU for January-September, 8.0% above that for the same months last year. In terms of tonnage the volume came to 85,478,483 tons (up 5.4%).

It said that despite declining volumes on trading routes to and from the Far East, in Asian trade the port managed to close the first nine months of 2015 with growth of 6.2%.

In conventional breakbulk, the port had handled 7.3 million tons by the end of September. This was a 1.8% drop in volume and something the authority said was due to “the increasing containerisation of fruit and the consequent fall in conventional handling.”

source: Port of Antwerp

Other key figures:

  • Ro/ro volume: up 2.5% to 3.46 million tons
  • Iron & steel volume: up 2.4% to 4.98 million tons
  • No. of cars handled: down 9.7% to 825,312 vehicles​
  • Liquid bulk volume: up 7.9% to 49.8 million tons
  • Oil derivatives: up 4.6% to 35.3 million tons
  • Chemicals: up 23.7% to 10.7 million tons
  • Dry bulk: up 2.4% to 10.5 million tons
  • Sand and gravel: up 27.7% to 1.26 million tons
  • Coal: up 12.8% to 1.33 million tons

Seagoing ships

A total of 10,786 seagoing ships have called at the port of Antwerp in the last nine months, 2.5% more than in the same period last year. The gross tonnage rose 7.7% to 271 million GT.

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Optimistic outlook at 7th Cool Logistics Global Conference

The 7th Cool Logistics Global Conference covered issues in the cooled logistics of perishables ranging from the importance of tracking and tracing to improved schedule reliability.

On the first day of the 7th Cool Logistics Global Conference – held September 29 to October 1 in the Belgian city of Brugge – a broad range of topics surrounding the cooled logistics of perishables was discussed, ranging from changing consumer preferences via the importance of tracking and tracing to improved schedule reliability and a lot in between.

The overall outlook was one of optimism. The expectations for the logistics industry are not as bad as some may think. Paul Bosch, supply chain analyst of Food and Agriculture at Rabobank – financer of 85% of Dutch agricultural companies – said the future appears bright for cold. “Growth rates look pretty good, making the rest of the food market jealous.” The key driver for this process being the increasing penetration of cell phones and refrigerators in developing countries, he said.

That observation was shared by Jan Debaillie, director of Group Logistics at Ardo Group, a Belgian producer of high quality frozen vegetables, fruit, pasta and rice which controls its total supply chain. “We see the categories fresh and frozen grow, not so much in Europe but overseas. Specifically, frozen organic foods in the USA are growing very fast, doubling volumes,” Debaillie said.

Changing customers

Bosch agreed that growth in Europe is low and leading to a switch from volume to value. And where is the value? It appears to become more difficult to get to know the customer. Bosch identified 5 different types of customers that will play an important  role in the market in the coming 10 years. One is the “convenience customer” who doesn’t want to wait and doesn’t want to pay extra but who will drive logistical changes.

Online purchases will be important in this consumer profile. “We are at a turning point where online purchases take away market share from retail and supermarkets,” Bosch said. This process calls for other logistics, a need for greater flexibility and new packaging solutions. In other words, this is a growth area for logistics all the more since a huge increase in frozen sales is expected because those products are easier to deliver to homes.

In this respect, Joachim Coens, President – CEO of the Port of Zeebrugge, said the 21st century is bringing a lot of changes. One of these is the changing consumer. The global buying power defers and that leads to layered demand which needs to be facilitated. Coens sees a clear task for ports in this process. “The role of the port is to bring people together and facilitate. We also have a role in intermodal activity.”

Technological solutions and trends in logistics

Tracking and tracing is important in the timing of onions, said Chayenne Wiskerke, managing director of Wiskerke Onions, the leading Dutch packer and exporter of onions. Its onions are exported to 90 countries across the globe and mainly transported by reefer containers. Wiskerke Onions developed a customised system giving its customers traceability on demand. This real time system, accessible via an app, informs them of the whereabouts and quality of the product. “This tool is a great help with customers of different languages and far-away markets,” Wiskerke said. She also predicted continuous growth in global demand for onions which offers potential for the future of the reefer sector.

Apart from technology, Debaillie signaled other changes in the logistics process. “The logistical lines are as short as possible with less logistical partners.” Moreover, retail distributions centres are changing their policies towards keeping products in stock. “There is less stock in the DC’s, (so they are) asking for shorter lead times and making the supplier more logistical providers than traders,” Debaillie said.

Shipping industry positive

It was not only the producers buoyed about good prospects at the Cool Logistics conference, the shipping industry had positive news to share, as well. “We are not so desperate,” said Alexis Michel, vice president of Group Logistics and Reefer at CMA CGM. “The shipping industry is one of the fastest growing industries with good growth predictions.” Behind this optimism is the fact that the worldwide economy is still growing and the US and Chinese markets are still strong. Michel expects the main market will continue to go west and shared that bigger vessels are becoming the standard.

This observations caused Nigel Jenney, CEO of the Fresh Produce Consortium, to call for teamwork to help get produce out of containers as soon as possible because unloading takes longer with larger vessels and reduces shelf life. “It is important to work together and know what is inside the container,” Jenney said.

Drewry Supply Chain Advisors director Philip Damas highlighted the speed and efficiency in reefer maritime supply chains. Slow steaming and transshipment services have lengthened transit times for reefer containers. Specialised reefer ships remain faster. Although leaving room for improvement, the schedule reliability of containers has improved to about 70% on most routes. Damas added that for reefer ships there are no figures but the reliability is most likely to be higher. Both speed and reliability do not appear to be the key focal points in the logistical process as containerisation continues its march. Drewry expects containerisation to rise to 82% by 2018.


Images courtesy of Cool Logistics Global:

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Hamburg Süd: strong commitment to cargo quality

Cargo experts examine fruit quality after opening a test container equipped with the XtendFRESH system: Michaela Steineker, Thies Claussen & José Ortiz from Eurofins.

Hamburg Süd, a traditional North-South carrier, offers services in most of the world’s key reefer trades. With over 90 years of experience in the transportation of perishable cargo, Hamburg Süd ranks among the top five reefer container carriers worldwide. “We have grown close with the subject of refrigerated cargo in virtually all areas, especially in the Southern Hemisphere where we have our specialists,” says Michaela Steineker, head of Hamburg Süd’s Global Reefer Competence Team. “Where reefer containers are concerned, we transport about 98 per cent food.” Fresh and frozen products are transported, like fruit and vegetables, meat and fish. Bananas currently offer the greatest potential for growth as they are increasingly transported in containers instead of reefer vessels. Hamburg Süd has recently introduced a new service for banana transportation to Europe from Puerto Moin in Costa Rica instead of Cartagena, Colombia. The first port of call in Europe is the Spanish Marin followed by Antwerp, a traditional banana port.

Innovations maintaining quality

Innovations are important at Hamburg Süd, but always with a keen eye on product quality. “We are a high quality reefer carrier dedicated to the cargo. We want to follow new technologies for the best products, but we do not blindly adopt any new technology. We make sure there is extensive testing so no cargo problems arise,” says Michaela Steineker, who has a post-graduate degree in Food Chemistry. One of the projects in the testing phase is ‘Enhanced Reefer Monitoring’. This is a system that monitors the reefer container in real time via mobile data communication. At the same time, the container can be accessed when needed at any time to take corrective action in the box’s operations. Another new technology in co-development with the container manufacturer Carrier is XtendFRESH, a controlled atmosphere technology that is particularly suitable for avocados and bananas. The oxygen content in the container is reduced and the amount of CO2 increased. At the same time, the system removes ethylene, the ripening gas. The XtendFRESH system is a solution integrated into the cooling unit. Until now, so-called ethylene scrubbers were installed in the container. “They would only keep for one journey and then had to be renewed. That involves costs and is laborious in handling,” says Michaela Steineker.

This article originally appeared in the July-August 2015 edition, number 138, of Eurofresh Distribution magazine. Read it here: