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Eucofel and PROEXPORT call on European Commission to facilitate transport of fruit and vegetables by road

Eucofel and PROEXPORT call on European Commission to facilitate transport of fruit and vegetables by road

Coordination at the community level will make it possible to guarantee the return of trucks, necessary to meet the supply of perishables


The president of FruitVegetablesEUROPE (Eucofel), and of PROEXPORT (Association of Producers-Exporters of Fruit and Vegetables of the Region of Murcia), Juan Marín Bravo, has expressed his profound concern about the negative impact that the COVID-19 crisis is having on the road transport of perishable food, particularly on fresh fruits and vegetables.

In a letter sent to the EU on 19th March, Marín calls for the application of Article 14.2 of Regulation (EC) No 561/2006 on driving times, breaks and rest periods for drivers engaged in the freight transport by road, in order to harmonise the conditions of competition between the modes of land transport.

This article states: “In urgent cases, Member States may grant a temporary exception for a period not exceeding 30 days, which shall be notified immediately to the Commission.” In this way, Member States can deal with situations that present exceptional and sudden circumstances that are inevitable and cannot be foreseen, in which it is unexpectedly impossible to apply the provisions of the Regulation in its entirety for a short period of time.

As Marín details in the letter sent to the European Commission, “the effects caused by the spread of Covid-19 constitute these exceptional circumstances, which are having an impact on mobility and transport in the EU.”

For this reason, the President of the Commission is requested to transfer measures contemplated in the resolution of March 16, 2020 from the Government of Spain to the EU as a whole, and provide the following:

  1. Temporarily exempt the operations of transport of goods affected by these circumstances of compliance with the rules established in articles 6.1 and 8.6 of Regulation No. 561/2006.
  2. The exceptions provided in the first section will apply to drivers who carry out cargo operations throughout the national territory (Spain). These exemptions will be applicable from March 14, 2020 to March 28, 2020, both included.

In this sense, FruitVegetablesEUROPE has requested that the EU and the Member States also apply Article 14.2, as the Spanish Government has done, and also take exceptional measures to ensure that perishable food continues to flow in the EU internal market, “as it is the only way to prevent a shortage of fresh food, particularly fresh fruits and vegetables in the EU.” Only with the coordination of these measures at the European level will it be possible to organise the vehicle returns necessary to guarantee circulation throughout the Community territory.

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Port of Oakland handles 36% more fresh cargo

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The Port of Oakland is handling 36% more containers of fresh fruit and vegetables than in 2013, and the volumes are only set to grow. The number of containers has rocketed from 80,000 to 135,000, with exports accounting for 103,000 of the fresh fruit and vegetable containers – a 44% rise increase from 2013. The number of imported containers rose by 16%

The major exports were oranges and grapes, with the prime destinations being Japan, South Korea and Hong Kong. One advantage that the Port of Oakland offers is its ability to handle temperature-controlled cargo, with refrigerated export containers delivered mainly at night to cut down handling time. The Port is investing further to add hundreds of electrical plug-in spaces for refrigerated containers this summer, which will allow safe storage of larger volumes of perishables.

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America’s revolution in fresh food retail

The growing popularity of meal kit providers is something America’s supermarkets need to keep an eye on. Companies such as Hello Fresh and Blue Apron are effectively nabbing sales from retailers in the United States, warns Liz Webber from Supermarket News.

The growing popularity of meal kit providers is something America’s supermarkets need to keep an eye on. Companies such as Hello Fresh and Blue Apron are effectively nabbing sales from retailers in the United States, warns Liz Webber from Supermarket News.

Speaking at this year’s United Fresh Show, Webber said other emerging trends to watch in the retail of fresh food are the use of private labels to market produce, the offering of free produce for kids, the merchandising of ‘ugly’ produce, and cut and processed food.

Webber, senior digital manager for what is one of America’s leading food distribution trade magazines, also shared results of its 2nd annual Fresh Foods Survey. Based on 161 industry responses in March and April this year, it provides one of the most up-to-date pictures of fresh foods in America’s retail environment.

In a session titled “Fresh Foods: The Retail Revolution” at the show – held in Chicago in June – Webber said the survey showed the sector sees quality and freshness as the top priority for fresh produce consumers.

In saying what shoppers most want in perishables, 73% of those polled said quality and freshness, followed by convenience (34%), organic/natural options (30%), ease of preparation (18%), meal ideas (16%) and local food (11%).

More space for fresh food

The survey also shows fresh produce sales are on the rise in the retail environment. Nearly three-quarters of respondents said turnover in their perimeter categories – fresh produce, meat, deli, bakery, dairy and seafood – had increased in the last 12 months while about 22% said it had remained the same and 5% reported a decline.
There is also optimism going forward, with three-quarters of the retailers saying they expect perimeter department sales to increase in the next 12 months, while 21% anticipate no change and just 3.8% a decrease.

When it comes to the amount of space they devote to fresh foods, about 43% of the respondents said that compared to last year their fresh food departments have grown, while just over half said they had maintained the same amount of space and 4.5% reported less space.

Of those who said their fresh food department has expanded, 52% said they have devoted more space in fresh produce, followed by about 41% in prepared foods, 31% in bakery, 30% in deli, 26% in meat/seafood, 22% in floral, 21% in cheese and 13% in dairy.

Prepared foods: demand for healthy & heat-and-eat options

The survey shows the majority (76.1%) of supermarkets in the US now have a deli counter offering prepared foods. Webber said key trends in the deli sections are the offering of food that is healthy or that consumers can heat and eat.

In response to a question about what prepared foods offerings their stores currently have, the retailers also indicated self-service bars (52.2%), fast casual stations (44.8%) and full service restaurants (7.5%), while 9.0% reported having none of these.

As for who they see as their biggest competitors in the sale of prepared foods, nearly 38% of the retailers polled said their main rivals are fast casual restaurants such as the Chipotle Mexican Grill chain, 21% said quick service restaurant such as McDonald’s and 13.6% listed natural/organic retailers.

What gives such alternatives an edge? The retail respondents said these competitors have better location (41.8%), service (35.8%), selection (37.3%), price (35.8%) and other factors (17.9%).


About the Survey

  • 2nd annual survey
  • Conducted exclusively for SN by Penton Research in March/April 2016
  • 161 industry responses

What Shoppers Want From Fresh

  • Quality/freshness: 73.2%
  • Convenience: 34.8%
  • Organic/natural: 30.4%
  • Ease of preparation: 18.1%
  • Meal ideas: 15.9%
  • Local: 10.9%
  • Other: 6.5%

Source: SN Fresh Foods Survey 2016

Trends to watch

  • Meal kits
  • ‘Ugly’ produce
  • Free produce for kids
  • Cut and processed
  • Fresh private label
  • Healthy offerings in deli
  • Heat-and-eat

Source: Liz Webber, Supermarket News


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Rotterdam Cool Port gets underway

Kloosterboer and the Port of Rotterdam Authority are investing in the start of a new cold storage cluster on the City Terminal site in the Waalhaven/Eemhaven: Rotterdam Cool Port. Kloosterboer is setting up a new cold store, specialised in the storage and handling of refrigerated and frozen cargo in reefer containers. Complementary services, such as empty depots and food inspection, will be added in the future.

Kloosterboer and the Port of Rotterdam Authority are investing in the start of a new cold storage cluster on the City Terminal site in the Waalhaven/Eemhaven: Rotterdam Cool Port.

Kloosterboer is setting up a new cold store, specialised in the storage and handling of refrigerated and frozen cargo in reefer containers. Complentary services, such as empty depots and food inspection, will be added  in the future.

“We are extremely proud about the start of Rotterdam Cool Port. We, as a port, have much experience in the cold storage sector and Rotterdam Cool Port is a valuable expansion of operations in this field,” said Ronald Paul, COO at the Port of Rotterdam Authority.

“As this location has many multimodal connections with the container cluster on the Maasvlakte as well as all surrounding Greenports and the final destinations in Europe, Cool Port will make a real contribution to the sustainability and efficiency of the supply chain for fresh produce,” he said.

Operational in 2017

Construction is due to start early next year on the cold store and the layout of the Kloosterboer site. The company is purchasing 5 ha with the option to expand in the future. The terminal is expected to become operational in the course of 2017, with a capacity of 40,000 temperature-controlled pallet spaces to handle at least 400,000 pallets a year.

There is an additional 14,500 m2 approx. to accommodate various services such as packing, sorting and cross-docking. “We are very pleased to have the opportunity to set up business at Cool Port. Here, we want to offer our clients the highest possible level of service in the perishable goods sector, via a state-of-the-art terminal,” said Kloosterboer CEO Hans Kroes.

Unique combination

The combination of location and cold storage facility makes Rotterdam Cool Port attractive, the port said in a press release. “Thanks to the location, shippers will no longer need to transport cargo from the terminal to the cold store, so that import and export costs can be substantially reduced. As Rotterdam Cool Port is being developed directly adjacent to container terminals, it will be possible to make optimum use of reefer container equipment. In addition, Rotterdam occupies a prominent position in the cold storage sector because the port serves as the first port of call in Europe for many shipping companies. Speed is crucial for perishable goods. Consequently, a whole range of specialised firms and temperature-controlled storage facilities have established themselves in Rotterdam and the surrounding area through the years,” it said.


The Province and the Municipality have both granted a subsidy for the redevelopment of a large part of the Eemhaven, with the cool port considered a good use of the newly vacant land. The Province is also contributing towards the access-related infrastructure, in the interests of the Greenports. In addition, it will have a positive impact on employment in the area. It is expected that about 100 people will be working there by 2017.

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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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End-to-end perishable supply chains the focus of Cool Logistics Asia event

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All aspects of the perishable supply chain will be covered at the one-day Cool Logistics Asia event at AsiaWorld-Expo in Hong Kong tomorrow, September 2.

Being held as part of the annual Asia Fruit Logistica trade fair for the first time, this unique perishables logistics and transport conference features leading international speakers from around the world and covers all modes of transport including air, container shipping, rail and road as well as storage.

Key speakers will include Lars Kastrup – SVP at CMA CGM, Thomas Lau – Head of Supply Chain Management and Logistics at Metro JinJiang Cash & Carry Co. Ltd, Nigel Webster – Director, Refrigerated Containers, Seaco, Michel Looten – Director, Maritime, Seabury Group, Chetan Kumria – Vice President – Supply Chain, Pernod Ricard, Tarun Arora – Manager Fresh Import and Distribution, IG International,Tsunemichi Mukai – Senior Vice President, MOL Liner, Henrik Christensen – President Global Logistics, KTZ Express, as well as Jan Strassburg – Senior Manager Rail Logistics & Forwarding, DB Schenker, Jack Lo – Cargo Product & Marketing Manager, Cathay Pacific, Clement Lam – Director and General Manager, Swire Pacific Cold Storage, Hans-Willem Van der Waal – Managing Director, AgroFair and many others.

Organisers say the first Cool Logistics Asia Conference offers a rare opportunity to design perishable supply chains of the future at a time when the cool chain market in Asia is set to explode.

“As everyone engaged in the perishable supply chain is looking to find new opportunities to market perishable produce whilst seeking to control logistics costs, this new forum allows carriers and cargo owners to sort out their differences and meet eye-to-eye in order to shape the future together,” said Alex von Stempel, Managing Director of Cool Logistics Resources Ltd.

For more information on the 1st Cool Logistics Asia: 

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Cool Logistics Asia makes its debut in Hong Kong

“The most productive concentration of cold-chain professionals under one roof in Asia” – that’s one way organisers have described the coming Cool Logistics Asia conference, taking place on September 2 on the doorstep of the world’s largest potential cold chain market, in Hong Kong.

The most productive concentration of cold-chain professionals under one roof in Asia – that’s one way organisers have described the coming Cool Logistics Asia conference, taking place on September 2 on the doorstep of the world’s largest potential cold chain market, in Hong Kong.

Coinciding with the opening day of Asia Fruit Logistica, this first edition of Cool Logistics Asia, being held at the AsiaWorld–Expo centre, will focus on new ways to control rising perishable logistics.

The high-level one-day forum will feature speakers from leading cold store operators and shipping lines, international perishable logistics experts, and perishable cargo owners, among many others, who will exchange experiences on how to create a roadmap for developing Asia’s perishable supply chains of the future.

It will also bring together the latest retail and e-tail trends with perishable product-based logistics case studies, food-safety with multi modal transport forecasts. Additionally, the conference will provide analysis of key infrastructure investments and a review of the latest available refrigerated logistics technology, and plenty of debating time as an appetiser and scene-setter for the Asia Fruit Logistica Exhibition.

The conference takes place within the wider context of an expected explosion in growth of the cold chain market in Asia in the short and medium term fired by greater demand for perishable goods, increasing wealth distribution and the development of e-commerce.

The need for new approaches is underlined by the fact that at least 30% of temperature sensitive cargoes are being wasted and have to be destroyed due to insufficient infrastructure, differences in culture and communication problems. Hence the critical need for this platform for better dialogue between the logistics sector and perishable producers, exporters and importers, organisers say.

Cool Logistics Asia has been designed as a regional event to complement Cool Logistics Global in Europe and other biennial regional events, such as Cool Logistics Africa and Cool Logistics Americas.

For more information: