These are chaotic times, says Oscar Aantjes, Sales and Marketing Manager at Eimskip, a global logistics service provider. He noticed that due to the risk the coronavirus poses to trade to Asia, it is difficult to book reefers, and they are scarce. “That is troublesome because fresh and frozen food-related loads have to be transported.” Oscar has seen that this is leading to an increasing number of requests for reefer containers to Asia. As a back-up solution, frozen goods can still be stored.
Oscar Aantjes, Sales en Marketing Manager bij Eimskip
The Sales and Marketing Manager does, however, admit there is a question of whether there is sufficient storage capacity. These shortages are also driving shipping tariffs up. Oscar expects this virus to influence the market for some time. “It is having a huge impact, and this will not be over once the virus is. You will then get products that still need to be transported, which may again cause shortages in this trade sector.” He has noticed that, currently, the crisis has affected Eimskip’s operational activities too. Making bookings to Asia takes more effort than usual.
Eimskip’s extensive network and long-standing experience in the logistics service provision and shipping industry are being put to good use now. This logistics service provider has 56 offices in 18 countries on four continents. “We have a wide-spread office network that all offer the same expertise. Thanks to this, we can use our know-how to guide the parties concerned,” explains Oscar. Flexibility and quality also play a role.
Eimskip has many contracts with other service providers but has not exclusively committed itself. “We can offer added value thanks to our knowledge and flexibility as well as all possible solutions. This is because we work with many parties who like to work with us too.” Oscar has noticed that this flexibility - certainly when it comes to the carrier’s extensive experience of the North Atlantic route - is becoming increasingly important when it comes to dealing with the effects of the ever-increasing weather extremes.
In this regard, local contacts are essential. “You have to eliminate miscommunication. Weather conditions are always an uncontrollable event,” continues Aantjes, “but you can, however, anticipate them well and, so, cut down on the risks.” As an example, he mentions being able to select different shipping companies that fare the same route, so an earlier sailing can be chosen to avoid the worst weather, but still arrive on time.
“These are things you must be able to consider.” The fact that Eimskip is a carrier company itself and is familiar with forwarding ensures that this logistics service provider’s expertise and know-how contributes to this flexibility, says Oscar. “The combination of having our own ships and our being able to transport air-conditioned and frozen loads, coupled with our knowledge and network as a global forwarder, is unique.”
“An important development at Eimskip is that, in addition to everything to do with Iceland and fish-related products, we are using our expertise worldwide in the area of global forwarding.” About three years ago, Eimskip decided to start implementing this knowledge strategically too. “You can, of course, apply all the insight Eimskip has accumulated in recent years in the area of fish industry-related products very well to other commodities such as fruit and vegetables,” adds the Sales and Marketing Manager.
Oscar names the transportation of frozen blueberries, melons from South America and avocados, but also potatoes and onions as examples. “It actually demands the same treatment, as long as you have a firm understanding of your client’s business, and you adjust your activities accordingly.” That is why this logistics service provider uses the possibilities its network provides to offer logistics solutions to client demand from the fruit and vegetable sector.
Another reason why Eimskip is interested in the transportation of fruit and vegetables is this sector’s stable cargo flow. But, here too, the changing climate can throw a spanner in the works. Oscar has noticed that, for instance, combining the planning of fish products and fruit and vegetables, that ensure a permanent cargo stream from Egypt, can become disorganized if harvesting does not happen as scheduled.
“If, due to the weather, these products are harvested at a different time, you have a problem. You then have a change in your fixed cargo stream, which is something you do not want.” Oscar finishes by saying such circumstances can be accommodated but adds that it requires a lot of communication and proactive collaboration. “We must often come up with ideas, beforehand, and you can only do that if you allow yourself to be led by your client’s objectives,” he concludes.