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Container ports and the hidden opportunity in reefer shipping

By taking advantage of some basic local agreements, container ports and container terminals can substantially improve and ensure their involvement in global reefer trades in a challenging era

It is a fact that the containers dominate the global reefer industry. Subsequently, understanding  reefer container trades , refrigerated shipments and the "reefer mentality" is a key step towards the real development  of reefer business. Ports or container terminals seriously willing to attract reefer business need to assimilate the importance of being "efficient in reefer", which, e.g. should prioritize "smooth documentary procedures" amongst other possible local bottle-necks.

Furthermore container shipping is often perceived seen as the harbinger of the broader economy. It certainly fulfilled that role in the recent economic crisis, as business fell off precipitously. However, shipping is now also a kind of lagging indicator: its performance is trailing the broader, somewhat erratic global recovery.

A big part of the problem is that the industry continues to add capacity. Not surprisingly, pressure to fill this capacity and capture the efficiency benefits of larger vessels has led to hasty decisions by carriers, which include changes in ports of calls, rotations, scheduling, etc..This scenario is adding complexity to the cold chain.

In this environment, the 21st century will be a challenging period with an effective globalization, a growing influence of internet, social media, and an accelerated climate change. All of it call producers and receivers, container ports, governments and forward thinkers all over the world for a synchronized action. Logistics and food logistics will be genuine trendsetters for the economy of the future, too.

Moreover, known existing economical uncertainties do not ease to predict what will happen next month, let alone several decades from now. Having said that, specialized logistic companies and their executives have traditionally identified very well existing and future bottle-necks and respective solutions, infrastructure or regulatory requirements.

It is therefore the task of specialized reefer logistics groups, to explain authorities their views and vision, based on their daily experience in dealing with fresh or frozen produce all over the globe.

As a matter of fact said task is remarkably important, since governments still perceive logistics conceptually in a restrictive way, that is with the meaning of "goods to be transported". Some of them might add a partly broader understanding, by adding warehousing and special process solutions. Anyhow most of the legislative bodies do not link reefer logistics to the macro-economic impact it has to the whole society.

Needless to say that food or reefer logistics are specially sensitive to this lack of comprehension of the authorities.For example;European or US policy makers do structure regulatory incentives to leverage the sector's potential by completing the internal market for road or sea cabotage and/or rail freight : A much broader "multimodal mentality" that facilitates links (and smooth mode shift !) of transport systems and tackles, for example, road congestion by non-discriminatory measures (including private transport and not only trucks...). On the other hand, this required broader and forward thinking, has to be done in a global scale : Regional or local measures might be short or medium term solutions for specific problems, but it is not enough.

Climate change, together with poor, wrong or congested infrastructures (depending on its status in a variety of areas with its specific characteristics), plus the growing number of huge consumption centers (urban areas with enormous food logistics demands) lead necessarily for actions in ports as key players in the cold chain.

In other words, the 21st century is bringing an opportunity to ports and container terminals. Moreover, logistics companies will be the trendsetter for the economy. Concepts like efficiency, sustainability, education and social responsibility shall be paramount in future developments.

In the years to come, quality, price and trade mark will remain, though the environmental impact of products and services will play a key role., together with EFFICIENT documentary procedures, in volatile scenarios. Expertise and common sense, have to be linked to adequate infrastructure developments in port areas and hinterlands.

For more info contact info@easyfresh-logistics.com

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