As carrier services to Russia and Ukraine are all but closed down, reefer container cargoes are also shut out. But for other destinations, this should free up equipment and even lower freight rates. Of course, the conflict in Ukraine could lead to further disruption in the reefer market but any reduction in demand to and from Ukraine and Russia could benefit shippers by freeing up capacity and lowering freight rates.
The two countries account for around 4.5% of global seaborne reefer demand, according to Drewry reefer shipping analyst Philip Gray. “Any disruption to trade will bring significant impacts for cargo owners, container carriers and specialized reefer ship operators.”
Russia imported close to 4 mln tons of fresh produce by sea in 2021, he added. Of this, 40% was bananas from Ecuador and Central America.
Gray: “If this trade stops or slows there will be a surplus of equipment and space which will likely bring short-term respite for shippers of seasonal produce from the west coast of South America, which are currently struggling for capacity to both Europe and North America. The wider implications for the fruit exporting business will be felt very fast, as traditional markets become oversupplied with produce, putting pressure on prices.”