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More Perishables Handled via the Port of Antwerp  

February 27, 2018

With  a  total  of  9,969,036  tonnes,  the  Port  of  Antwerp  recorded  a  7.5  percent  increase in the handling of refrigerated containers and perishable goods in 2017 compared with the previous year. The growth measured in TEU is as high as 8.5 percent and increased from 704,853 TEU in 2016  to  765,105  TEU  in  2017.  As  a  result,  Europe's  second  largest  seaport  continues  the positive development of the past few years as a preferred perishables hub. In order to be able to meet this growth trend, the service providers at the port are already preparing the necessary conditions  for  the  future  –  from  the  expansion  of  the  infrastructure  such  as  additional refrigerated and fresh storage facilities to innovative solutions such as blockchain technology and sustainable transport concepts like groupage freight transports or modal shift.  

“The continuing growth of reefer traffic via the Port of Antwerp confirms that the range of transhipment and extended services for perishable goods offer real added value to the market. We are approaching the  10  million  tons  mark,  which  we  hope  to  exceed  next  year,"  said  Maartje  Driessens,  Business Development  Manager  Perishables  of  the  Antwerp  Port  Authority,  during  a  press  breakfast  at  this year's Fruit Logistica.  

Connections to the world's fruit and vegetable regions have also improved significantly. In 2017 alone, new  or  expanded  connections  to  West  Africa  (including  Cameroon,  Côte  d'  Ivoire,  Ghana  and Morocco) and Latin America (including Ecuador, Chile and Peru) have been added. Also the Levante Express of MSC has been further improved and now offers a direct connection to Beirut as well as optimized transit times between Antwerp and Turkey and Italy. Antwerp is frequently the first port of call in Western Europe, which is a particular advantage for this sensitive cargo.  

Expansion of storage capacities and value-added services  

In addition to transhipment, the specialised Port of Antwerp also offers a wide range of services, from special refrigerated  and fresh storage areas to expert value-added services such as quality control, ripening and assistance for phytosanitary inspection as well as customs clearance. Specialized service providers adapt their capacities to the increasing demand. Antwerp Cold Stores, for example, recently opened a new fresh produce area in its warehouse. Four cells in the temperature range between 0 and  18  °C  provide  capacity  for  7,500  pallet  spaces.  The  warehouse  can  be  used  as  a  bonded warehouse and is certified for organic products. It is ideal for potatoes, vegetables, fruit, nuts, but also for milk and dairy products or honey. In March, construction work will begi n on a cold storage facility for Luik  Natie Coldstore with 6,000 square metres of space for honey and bananas from Ecuador and Côte d' Ivoire. Luik Natie also plans to build a warehouse for frozen products with a capacity of around 22,000 pallet spaces by 2019.  

Smart transport solutions for more sustainability  

The  Antwerp  fruit  hub  is  also  offering  new  transport  solutions.  For  example,  ECU  Worldwide, Antwerp's largest consolidator, has recently introduced a special reefer service for smaller cargo sizes between Europe and the USA. The line between Antwerp and Baltimore operates every 14 days for temperature-controlled  cargoes  between  16  and  18  °C  and  once  a  month  for  frozen  goods  in  the range of -20 °C and below.   

In the hinterland, service providers are focusing in particular on the sustainable modal shift from road to rail and inland waterway transport. At the end of 2017, Remant Cool Logistics began transporting frozen  Belgian  fries  in  reefer  containers  by  barge  f rom  the  Belgian  factory  to  the  Port  of  Antwerp, which will save around 8,000 truck runs per year. The wholesale organisation Group De Witte, which imports pineapples from Costa Rica via Antwerp, has also shifted the onward transportation of reefer containers to their final destination in Brussels by barge.  

Innovative solutions for increased service  

The Port of Antwerp and  its service providers are  also very much involved in the digitisation of the global supply chain. In addition to general measures that benefit all areas of the port, such as the new Data Utility platform NxtPort, there are also specific projects in the field of perishables. For example, foodcareplus is currently developing a food logistics and transport platform that combines blockchain technology and state-of-the-art monitoring systems in an innovative all-in-one solution. As a result, the food  supply  chain  not  only  gains  transparency  and  reliability,  but  also  offers  the  highest  degree  of security. In order to further optimize processes, the platform will be open not only to customers but also to other participants in the supply chain, such as quality inspectors and food safety regulators.      

Industry  experts  and  practitioners  will  be  discussing  the  future  of  fresh  food  logistics  in Antwerp  this  year.  The  Belgian  port  city  attracted  two  major  industry  events  to  Antwerp  in 2018:  

21st European Cold Chain Conference, 14-16 March 2018, Radisson Blu Astrid Hotel  

10th Cool Logistics Global Conference and Exhibition, 2-4 October 2018, Port of Antwerp  

The 10th anniversary edition of this high-level cold chain event will include  a visit to Antwerp’s reefer infrastructure within the port.  

 

Image Source:   the  Port  of  Antwerp

 

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