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David Hofmans, head of transport for Colruyt Group
"We will research what the possibilities of inland shipping are"
The traffic problem around the ring of Antwerp and Brussels is a problem that everyone in Belgium has to deal with and that is not easily solved. With plenty of locations in Belgium, supermarket chain Colruyt also has to deal with this. Head of international transport David Hofmans indicates that the supermarket's fruit and vegetables are currently transported by road, although he says that it isn't unimaginable that it will be done by inland shipping in the near future.
At the moment Colruyt already transports products with a longer shelf life by water from Antwerp to Brussels to transport them by road from there. In the future David believes this will also be possible with fruit and vegetables.
Looking at possibilities
According to David Hofmans it is more difficult to switch from road transport to inland shipping with fruit and vegetable products, for various reasons. "The supply chain for fresh products works slightly differently," he indicates. "We still need to work to find out whether it is profitable and achievable to transport fruit and vegetables by water. Over the coming year we will discuss possibilities with the port of Brussels. We will also evaluate a test of inland shipping with pineapples that arrived in the port of Brussels this year. Besides needing to be both profitable and achievable, sustainability is also important. Different treatments are occasionally needed for fruit and vegetables compared to conserves, think of packaging the fresh products, which isn't done until arrival in Belgium in some cases."
A container of pineapples arrived in the port of Brussels by inland shipping at the start of August.
Different kinds of fruit
Besides this, the type of fruit that is to be transported also plays a role, according to David. "Very fresh fruit, such as strawberries, probably won't be transport by water," he continues. "Imported vegetables and fruit from Southern Europe or the rest of the world will be easier. Imagine inland shipping takes half a day longer compared to road transport, this isn't much compared to the entire journey of a banana or pineapple. In this manner we can still contribute to not making the traffic problem worse. To what extent we can do this in the future, remains to be seen. But we're open to it."
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Publication date: 11/27/2017
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