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Worldwide volumes of refrigerated trade reached a new high of 169.2 million tons in 2019

Following the release of its eleventh annual reefer analysis, Dynamar Shipping Information and Consultancy indicates that worldwide volumes of refrigerated trade reached a new high of 169.2 million tons in 2019, according to provisional figures, indicating a growth rate of just below 2% when compared to the previous year’s volumes of 166.5 million tons.

Of the total volume of refrigerated trade in 2019, Dynamar estimates that the seaborne reefer trade of fruit, vegetables, meat, fish and dairy, but excluding pharma, flowers and other commodities, is estimated to have grown bay close to 2% to approximately 121.5 million tons. The 2019 growth figure was below the long-time average due to extreme weather conditions in various parts of the world that year. However, this was offset somewhat by extra trade that was generated by the swine flu epidemic in China, leading to a much higher demand for pork.

The demand growth in China was reflected in the provisional figures, which indicated Chinese meat imports had risen by around 46% year-on-year. Strong growth was also reported in fishery products and fruit, while other major growth areas for refrigerated trade included Ecuador, with banana exports increasing once more, Brazil, on the back of strong meat exports and South Africa.

The longer-term pattern of the decline in conventional reefer shipping continued through the year, with the number of port calls at major reefer destinations dropping yet again, however, the rate of decline had slowed considerably when compared to 2018. In particular, the conventional reefer vessel has maintained its presence in Africa and New Zealand, with port calls in these regions with port calls falling by just 4.9% in Africa and rising by 2.5% in New Zealand. This compared to decreases of 7% and 6.2% recorded in 2018.

In the container sector, the overall reefer plug capacity of the fleet increased had increased by 2.6% between July 2019 and July 2020 to reach 2.48 million, while as of July 2020 the total TEU capacity of the containerised fleet amounted to 23.47 million TEU from 5,300 vessels.

2020 Report:
In the report, the authors indicated that, in comparison to 2019, the reefer market through 2020 saw a considerable amount of upheaval, especially in the early months, as a result of the corona virus pandemic. Difficulties began in April with suppliers facing disruption in getting fresh produce to the relevant ports. Lower warehouse productivity on the back of working, social distancing and travel restrictions caused longer lead times and a reorientation of ordering and inventory processes.

In the containerised segment, the main challenges were as a result of reefer container equipment being caught up in port disruption and the difficulties shippers and carriers had in repositioning refrigerated containers. As a result, reefer containers began to stack up in Chinese ports. Consequently, carriers announced the introduction of congestion surcharges for reefers in the region of 1,000-2,000 TEU per box. Additionally, some containers were diverted to other ports or delayed by the ever increasing amount of blanked sailings.

Yet, the disruption to the containerised segment generated some positivity for the conventional segment with reports that, due to a corona-related shortage of box capacity, enquiry and later activity for conventional reefers saw an uptick. As an example, it was reported that twice as many conventional reefer ships from South Africa had been calling at Rotterdam than usual. The frequency of such visits through the South African citrus season increased from fortnightly to weekly.

Looking into the crystal ball, this peak will not continue forever. With vaccines becoming available, the world will pick up its normal pace, albeit with a little less wealth. What we learned from this crisis is that people will continue to eat whatever happens, that box carriers can actually control themselves when the crisis is big enough and that life goes on. Most likely, they will also fall back into old habits, ordering too many ships and continue to compete on prices. Also for the conventional reefer operators life will go back to normal. The ships remain old and continue to use a lot of fuel. And when oil prices go up again, their competitiveness goes down. Regardless, time will tell what happens and 2021 is likely to be a bit more normal than 2020.

For more information:
Rocio Castro Sevillano
Dynamar Shipping Information and Consultancy
Tel: +31 72 514 7414

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Priva Middle East team has been in Qatar

Over the past few days, the Priva Middle East team has been in Qatar. Together with colleague Jan Westra from the Netherlands, our GM Giovanni A. visited various knowledge institutes, government entities and the well-known QTFA farm.

The trip, co-organised by Heba leith from the Netherlands Embassy in Qatar, included a visit to Hassad Food, Qatar’s premier investor in the food and agri-business sectors, and the Ministry of Municipality. During these visits, our Priva team discussed potential collaborations including the opportunity to jointly form an eco-system to achieve the set goals of Qatar’s food security strategy.

To build a robust food security strategy, Qatar has outlined its focus on four pillars:

1. Ensure that trade routes are diversified so that risk-exposure is limited and a contingency plan for alternative routes as needed;
2. Move food from port, field or reserves to table as efficiently as possible (i.e., limiting food losses/waste), with regulations that foster competition and encourage safety;
3. Put in place adequate but sensible reserve capacity to act as a buffer in time of crisis, both for inputs (water, seeds, fertilizer) and outputs (food products); and
4. Efficiently cultivate crops, meat and fish within the confines of a Qatar’s resource base to ensure a stable source of perishables in times of crisis, as well as providing a regulatory framework that creates incentives to focus on commodities that make sense from a cost-competitiveness point of view.

Source: (former) Qatar Ministry of Municipality & Environment (MME), Qatar Food Strategy 2018-2023.

Jan and Giovanni also met with representatives from Qatar University and the Qatar Environment & Energy Research Institute (QEERI) part of Hamad Bin Khalifa University. QEERI is a national research institute tasked with supporting Qatar in addressing its challenges related to energy, water and the environment. The institute’s work is in line with the goals set forth by Qatar National Vision 2030, and is supported by the Qatar Foundation Research, Development and Innovation.

On Monday, a visit to Arab Qatari Agricultural Production Company (QTFA) was on the agenda. Established in 1989, QTFA is considered the largest agricultural farm in Qatar. Spanning a total land area of 200 hectares, the farm is divided into open fields and greenhouses (cooled and un-cooled). QTFA produces around 28 types of premium vegetables and among other well-known Dutch companies, Priva’s products are in place at the farm. Senior Agronomist Carol Khadra and Senior Production Supervisor Buddhi Magar very kindly took the time to show our colleagues around the farm and its locally produced crops, including tomatoes and cucumbers.

The trip to Qatar concluded with a luncheon with Dutch Ambassador, H.E. Mrs Marjan Kamstra, Deputy Ambassador, H.E. Tiest Sondaal, Business Developer Gulf Region NL Embassy, Heba leith, and Chairman of the Dutch Business Council Qatar, Robert W. Cats Cats.

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Strawberry substrate production systems: a review by Omafra

Growers have many options when it comes to establishing strawberry substrate production. OMAFRA’s Erica Pate reviews different container options, tabletop and suspended systems, and different structures used for strawberry substrate production.

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Pura Hoja: refrigeration extend the shelf life by 2-6 days

Speaking is Tomás Benavente of Pura Hoja, the largest grower of hydroponic lettuce in Chile: “The time of harvesting must be carefully planned, the product must not be harvested too late. Temperature control is also vital for shelf life. Depending on the crop, the entire cold chain ideally takes place in a room with a temperature between 2-5° C.” 
The thin and narrow shape of the land makes distribution a major complication for hydroponic products. By refrigerating their produce, they can keep the lettuce as fresh as possible before it hits supermarket shelves.

Pura Hoja was founded in 2010. Over the past ten years, the company has grown to become the largest grower of hydroponic lettuce in Chile. They are currently growing lettuce on their NFT system, while also doing trials with herbs and baby vegetables. According to Tomás, the company is technologically capable of growing any green leafy vegetable in their greenhouse. He believes there is a great opportunity for the horticultural sector to become more efficient through the use of technology, but the market must also appreciate these products.

Tomás: “Growing a healthy crop all year round is a major challenge. Technologies that regulate the climate, disinfection and disinfection, fertilization and crop management are extremely important. With these techniques we can control all climatic conditions in the area. .”

Since this technology is not easy to manage and also expensive, the market has to appreciate the added value of the hydroponic products. And that is why the lettuce must be of impeccable quality when it reaches the consumer. The Pura Hoja lettuce is sold on the national market, mainly through the retail channels. “The time of harvesting has to be carefully planned, because the lettuce should not be too old. Then temperature control is crucial.”


For extra shelf life, Pura Hoja has been working with a vacuum cooler for two years now. This cooler, supplied by the Dutch company WeberCooling, helps them keep the lettuce as fresh as possible before it hits supermarket shelves.

Sylvia van Uden of Weber Cooling: “By lowering the pressure in the vacuum chamber, you force (a fraction of) the product’s own moisture to evaporate. This evaporation costs energy, which is extracted from the product in the form of a temperature reduction.” The WeberCooling team is also very active in the American vertical farming market and in Latin America with their technology. Both hydro growers and vertical farmers have opted for the systems because it extends the shelf life of the products. The same goes for Pura Hoja.

Tomás: “The vacuum cooler helps us to lower the temperature very quickly after harvesting, which directly affects the shelf life of the product. After harvesting, we cool the products for at least 20 minutes. This process allows us to extend the shelf life by at least 2-6 days and according to some figures even up to 10 days.This way we deliver healthy lettuce with maximum freshness to our consumers.”

For more information:
Pura Hoja
Valparaiso / Chile


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