Chilean fruit exporters prefer ships to planes

Shipping companies, which have gradually expanded their market share over air cargo operators, have pushed the battle lines further to the traditional strength of the cargo planes of higher quality fresh produce amid tighter regulations to control pests and better technology.

The companies that used to send fresh produce from Australia and New Zealand to China and other parts of Asia in aeroplanes are now exploring the option of switching to ship. The higher pest control standards imposed by countries such as China and the United States require that the perishable products be kept in cold chambers for twelve or fourteen days before reaching their destination, undermining the time advantage that delivering via air had.

"Even if we exported by plane, the produce would still have to undergo cold sterilization at some point before entering the country," said Glenn Turner, CEO of the logistics firm Fresh Trust. "However, if we ship by sea, the cold treatment can be performed during the trip, saving exporters time and money," he added.

Shipping charges for items like fruits and vegetables were between 0.16 and 0.18 dollars per kilo on average, according to Turner, against an airfreight rate of $ 1 per kilo. "Exporters in Australia and the U.S. might consider delivering more goods by ship in the future, as they face a huge price competition from Latin American exporters." Some countries like Chile and Argentina prefer Asia over the U.S. and Europe, they send tons of cherries and raspberries to China at a price lower than their counterparts in Australia and the USA. Cherries from the USA and Australia are exported by air to China as the fruits arrive on destination fresh and at a reasonable price because there are frequent flights at low fares.


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