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Alan Murphy, SeaIntel Maritime Analysis

"Massive increase in reefer capacity in 2014"

In terms of performance of container carriers, 2014 has been worse than in the past two years, mostly due to external factors that the carriers have no control over, including major congestion issues. “In any case, there is a high level of differentiation between the top 20 carriers, meaning there are factors about the deliveries they are still in control over,” explains Alan Murphy, of SeaIntel Maritime Analysis at the recent Cool Logistics conference in Rotterdam.

SeaIntel is a leading market intelligence provider in the container shipping industry, with a focus on developing original information and analysis for all container market stakeholders, as well as for individual clients, in order to determine the efficiency of global carriers.

According to Alan, the South America-North Europe trade link has been performing quite well over the past few years, despite some problems in early 2014. “Overall, transit times have been extended due to congestion issues, especially in North Europe.”

As for Asian trade, performance deteriorated phenomenally in 2013, both in terms of schedule reliability and container delivery, with the former being increasingly lost at the land side. “Transit times were longer in 2012, they got shortened in 2013, and started getting longer again in 2014,” says Alan.

Regarding South America to the U.S. east coast, “there has been a massive increase in reefer capacity in 2014. Performance has generally remained good, with the exception of early last year, with high standards maintained, although we still see 20-35% losses in performance on the land side, which is of concern in the reefer heavy trade.”

Much more information on all trade routes can be found on the company’s newsletter, although SeaIntel Maritime Analysis also offers some free services, including a weekly incidents report for the African continent.

For his part, Michel Looten, of Maritime Seabury Group, describes the state of trade routes from and to Asia (including Australia and New Zealand) as really good, “and what I also find interesting to highlight is that South American exports to North America have increased by 10% in the first half of 2014, while South America-Europe trade is stagnating.”

Michel also affirms that, over the past decade, the aviation industry has estimated a 2% loss of business in favour of the maritime industry. “There has been a global gradual shift and this is a cause of concern for the air sector.”

Also, 65% of all ocean reefer trade is currently moving by containers; a percentage that is set to continue increasing, with North America and Asia Pacific being the most containerised. “Long distance trade routes, such as South America to North East Asia, West Europe to North East Asia or South America to Russia and the Persian Gulf are growing very rapidly and offer real opportunities in the reefer business,” affirms Michel.

Jeppe Kold, logistics director at Total Produce Direct, outlines how his company set itself the goal of optimising the supply chain, collaborating with both growers and shippers. “We work with a selected number of carriers who support this process; we determine what is needed by growers at origin and by importers at destination and we optimise the process.”

For Jeppe, schedule reliability is an extremely important aspect when deciding what supplier better suits the company’s needs. “It is all about having a better grasp about risks in the supply chain, which is naturally for our benefit, but also for that of both the grower and shipper.”

In addition to offering greater flexibility, an optimised supply chain also allows for more consistency in supply conditions and makes it possible to trim down unnecessary costs, “which can also occasionally result in better rates to our suppliers. All in all, these aspects are all aimed towards delivering a better product to consumers,” concludes Jeppe.