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Brazil’s largest fruit exporter eyes lease in Port of Natal

Agrícola Famosa, Brazil’s largest fruit exporter headquartered in Rio Grande do Norte, plans to lease a 4,000 m² area at the Port of Natal. In a ceremony on Thursday afternoon (23) at the Natal Passenger Maritime Terminal, company executives officially presented their interest in expanding operations at the terminal to Governor Fátima Bezerra and the board of the Port Company of Rio Grande do Norte (Codern). Representatives from GreenSea, the operator of Famosa’s ships, are also expected to participate. Since last year, the company has been chartering refrigerated pallet ships to replace traditional containers for transporting its produce in Ceará. This year, they have done the same through Natal.

“We will submit a letter to the governor and Codern requesting permission to use the berth and lease a portion of the port. This is because we see this ship operation as a long-term commitment,” said Agrícola Famosa CEO Carlo Porro.

The desired area corresponds to 4,000 m², and the company plans include the construction of a refrigerated terminal. “Our intention is to build a refrigerated terminal at the Port of Natal and, from this refrigerated port, facilitate loading other fruits, in addition to melons, such as mangoes, grapes, and all kinds of fruits. So, we really want to turn Natal into a fruit port,” declared the executive.

To achieve this, the company, which currently operates one ship per week with a capacity to transport 2,500 tonnes, will need to increase the vessels’ quantity and capacity. Six ships have already been chartered with GreenSea, a joint venture between Seatrade and Green Reefers, responsible for Famosa’s operation since August last year when the company changed its fruit transportation model at the Port of Mucuripe.

Expanding operations in Natal, Agrícola will now work with ships of 3,500 tonnes, increasing the number of departures from an average of four vessels per month to five. This will benefit the arrival of products at the destination as the time gap between ships will be shortened.

The chart below displays Brazilian fruit exports between Jan 2019 and Aug 2023.

This increase in operations occurs independently of the construction of the refrigerated terminal, the process of which, from permission to use the area to becoming operational, is expected to take an average of two years.

“It’s a two-year project, but we intend to start offering freight services to other producers in the next harvest, regardless of the refrigerated chamber. It will give us much more flexibility, but we want to bring in larger ships soon and start offering space for other producers,” explained the CEO of Agrícola Famosa. He did not disclose the investment amount the company plans to apply to the Natal project.

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