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First bananas from Suriname via direct line to BNFW

"Antwerp has always been the largest banana port"

On 1 February, the container ship, Pointe des Colibris, arrived with a shipment of bananas at the BNFW, in the port of Antwerp. A new contract has been signed between CMA CGM and FAI, Partner of Green Yard, with a direct connection to Antwerp. There will be more bananas within a week. "We were already the largest banana port in Europe, and it will stay that way. Several years ago, we lost Chiquita to Flushing, but in terms of volume, Antwerp has retained its status over the years," highlights the Antwerp port alderman, Marc Van Peel. "We are pleased with this new call at the port. The increase in volume shows that things are going well in the sector. Approximately 4 million tonnes of bananas are shipped to Europe every year, out of which 1.5 million tonnes arrive via the Port of Antwerp."

Hein Deprez handing out bananas.

Suriname banana sector growing
Hein Deprez, of Green Yard, was also present. "From now on, ships will unload an average of 50 containers of bananas per week. Each year, these lines bring between 50,000 and 100,000 tonnes of bananas and we expect further growth. In Suriname, the banana sector is growing and the volumes are expected to increase in the coming years."

Hein Deprez and Marc van Peel.

Hein points out that these logistic flows for bananas are organised in an efficient manner. "We are convinced that Antwerp is an important logistics hub to organise these activities. We are in the heart of Europe and we can thus quickly supply our customers across the continent. The BNFW is familiar with the product and can quickly respond to our needs. It was a decisive factor for the shipping company DMA CGM and an incentive to ensure that certain flows are forwarded here, to Antwerp." The ship contained mainly bananas of the Switi brand from Suriname.

"A considerable boost"
A so-called direct call reduces the handling time in the supply chain for some perishable goods, like fruits and vegetables, which is very important. The Antwerp Port Authority is very pleased with this direct connection in Antwerp. "The competition with nearby ports is fierce, especially in the fruit segment. Thus, if we manage to attract additional traffic to Antwerp, it gives us a considerable boost that shows the strengths of Antwerp, which are its speed, efficiency, good hinterland connections and the presence of return cargo," says port alderman Marc Van Peel.

Quality control
Out of each batch of bananas, dozens of boxes are checked for quality. "We take samples from each container," stated an employee of BNFW. "We have a list of requirements which the bananas must meet, which also vary by class. They must have a certain size, they should not be crooked and not have too many 'defects'. Bananas that arrive yellow are discarded."

Growth in perishables
In recent years, the port of Antwerp has recorded a strong increase in the traffic of perishables. A total of 9.02 million tonnes arriving in reefer ships were handled in 2016 alone, which expressed in TEU (unit containers) represents an increase of 6.1% compared to the previous year. Until a few years ago, fruits such as bananas were carried as bulk volume, but the growth of containerisation has led to bananas being increasingly shipped in refrigerated containers. Containers are not just simply loaded and unloaded; logistics companies operating in refrigerated warehouses in the port offer a variety of value-added services, such as quality control, packing and handling of customs formalities.

NEFWI service
Green Yard has also chosen CMA CGM for a direct service to Antwerp. The ship arriving for the first time on Wednesday is part of the North Europe French West Indies Service (NEFWI) of CMA CGM. Every Wednesday, ships with a capacity of 2,800 TEU will arrive to the BNFW terminal, on quay 212. The ships arrive in the port at about 6 o'clock in the morning, and at 14:00 the same day they head for their next destination. During that time, an average of 50 containers (with a capacity for 43,000 bananas per container) are unloaded; a figure that will likely increase over time. Moreover, containers will also be loaded, since one of the advantages of Antwerp is the presence of return cargo, allowing a number of islands in the Caribbean Sea, for example, to be supplied with vegetables, fruits, sugar, wine and/or beer loaded in Antwerp. Via its transhipment hub Pointe a Pitre, the NEFWI service of CMA CGM generates many opportunities in the niche markets of the Leeward and Windward Islands (Roseau - Bridgetown - Campden Park - Castries - Saint George - Basseterre - Gustavia - Road Town - Charlotte Amelie (St. Thomas), Georgetown (Guyana) and Paramaribo (Suriname). With their large feeder network in this region, they offer customers exciting opportunities with very short transit times from Suriname, Colombia and Costa Rica, and with strong links to northern Brazil.

Publication date: 2/2/2017


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