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Norway: Star Reefers hit hard by low rates and stiff competition

Having generated profits of $89,000 in 2010, Norwegian refrigerated ship operator, Star Reefers posted net losses of $125 million in 2011. The ship operator has been struck by low freight rates and increased competition from container ships.

The loss narrowed to $24.9 million against a $100,000 profit in 2010 after stripping out a $99.1 million impairment charge on older ships that have been or are likely to be scrapped. Net operating revenue from Star Reefers’ 40-ship fleet contracted to $155.1 million from $180.1 million.

“The year 2011, together with 2010, represents one of the poorest periods in the reefer industry’s history, with continuing low rates, high costs and the full impact of aggressive competition from container lines,” the Oslo-listed carrier said.

Exports of banana from Ecuador and Central America have been exceedingly low as a result of the global economy, early warm weather in the Mediterranean and lower demand in North Africa due to the Arab Spring.

The company also suffered as a result of a direct service by Maersk Line between Ecuador and the Mediterranean and the Black Sea that commenced operations in the second half of the year. The service is taking large amounts of the banana trade away and Star insist it is being offered at below break even rates.

“Both the fruit majors and the retail chains are seeking lower transportation costs and have started to ship more bananas with container lines, which have been willing to set up new services and drastically reduce their freight rates at or below cost in order to obtain market share,” Star said.

Source: www.joc.com/

Publication date: 2/21/2012


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