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Through Expertise Centre for Fruit and Perishables

Belgium: Port of Antwerp aims to triple marketshare

One year ago the Expertise Centre for Fruit and Perishables was founded by the Port of Antwerp. This is a joint effort of the Antwerp Port Community (Port Authority together with the Private Operators, all of whom are specialised in the cold chain). The goal of the project is to improve the specific supply chains of fruit and perishables coming through the Port of Antwerp in a sustainable way.

Antwerp has always been an important port for food imports, it is of course the biggest banana port in the the world, and has 2 million m³ of cold stores for chilled and frozen goods.

Wim Dillen, senior Business Development Manager at the port, explains that it was important to have a strategy with specific focus domains to outline areas in which to grow, defend or actively attack the market.

The port is very well established in conventional reefer traffic, but the team saw the need to further improve containerised reefer throughput of the port. With the amount of refrigerated containerised reefers expected to grow there is potential to increase Antwerp's share in this market. They currently focus on five southern hemisphere countries, Chile, Peru, Brazil, Ecuador and South Africa.

According to Wim many people are unaware of the Port of Antwerp trumpcards as an perishables gateway to/from Europe. In order to make the port more attractive to importers a number of 'roadblocks' have been removed. "Many people have the perception that inspection and customs checks are too slow, so first we needed to optimise & speed up this process, afterwards we needed to communicate efficiently on the progress made. We have done so by enabling the administration process to start 24 hours before the ship comes into port, we have also reduced inspection times by combining customs and phytosanitary/veterinarian controls, so now when goods are selected for a control the process only takes between 1-2 hours. This is quite fast compared to other ports."

"We are also focussing on the delivery time to the hinterland, a normal flow allows for delivery to a destination within a 500km radius, within 24 hours of arrival at the port. This has been achieved by the Expertise Centre."

The Belgian Federal Government has also taken measures to remove a fiscal roadblock by reducing the impact of the deposit required when importing to Belgian ports.

Wim argues that it makes sense to use the shortest possible route to the destination, "a lot of European imports go to Rungis market in France and Antwerp is closer than other ports, less distance on the roads also reduces the carbon footprint."

Looking back after one year, Wim says decent progress has been made and the Port of Antwerp is becoming even more important for perishable goods. "We also need to measure our progress and so we are developing a system where we can check our progress every three months. Our goal is to eventually triple our market share."

For more information:
Wim Dillen
Port of Antwerp
Tel: +32 3 229 65 92

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