MSC (the world's leading shipping company and winner of the Port of Valencia's northern expansion) has improved connectivity between South Africa (the main commercial competitor in the southern hemisphere of Valencian oranges) and Germany by including a direct stop in Bremerhaven in its current NWC service.

The first ship in this new rotation will be the MSC BRANKA and it will arrive in Bremerhaven on March 19, 2024. It's worth noting that South Africa will start exporting lemons on week 10, a crop that is facing difficulties in Alicante due to low prices, and that most of South Africa's citrus fruits are harvested between March and April, coinciding with the maritime reinforcement of the MSC route.

This route -which covers London Gateway, Rotterdam, Antwerp, Hamburg, Bremerhaven, Le Havre, Sines, Las Palmas, Coega, Durban, Cape Town, and back to Las Palmas and London Gateway- does not generate competition to Spain at origin but at destination, as it increases the competition that the Spanish product will have in northern Germany.

The Dutch port of Rotterdam, where 21.7% of South African exports were unloaded last year, is a key point on the route. It is followed by the London port of Gateway with 8.7% of exports. The route also includes Sines (Portugal), where South Africa accounted for 3.1% of its sales in 2023.

The CEO of the Association of South African citrus producers highlighted the port issues in Cape Town, which have led Maersk to cancel a stop at this South African port on the route that connects Africa with Asia.

Despite these issues, a 13% increase in refrigerated container volumes is forecast for the 2024 season. Exports from Maputo and Durban are expected to increase by 20%, from PE and Coega by 8%, and from Cape Town by 12%. Exporters are working with Transnet Port Terminals to ensure that port terminals are equipped to handle the season's harvest.