Rather than relying on normal scheduled ships, this year, Zespri has switched to using mostly charter refrigerated container ships in order to get its kiwifruit to major markets.
Zespri's chief global supply officer Alistair Hulbert has stated that this is because of the ongoing disruption to world shipping schedules caused by the pandemic. Hulbert says Zespri normally operates a split of 50% charter and 50% schedule ships, but this year it has increased the allocation of chartered ships to 70%.
“The problem is that there has been a huge demand for imported goods into NZ and this has meant that shipping lines have focused on bringing dry as opposed to refrigerated containers down to NZ in the off season,” Hulbert told ruralnewsgroup.co.nz. “These containers are bringing things such as imported furniture and normally those ships would bring in refrigerated containers to build up a stockpile for the horticulture industry exports from February to June. So, at the moment, we are down on container stock and that is causing disruption.”
Hulbert says the other issue is that the scheduled container services often get delayed as congestion builds up in ports all around the world, meaning that these ships may arrive in NZ late. Zespri foresaw the problem back in September last year and quickly upped the number of charter vessels.
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