The marine industry is hardly giving the cold shoulder to temperature-controlled cargo. On the contrary, it’s extending a warm embrace as the reefer trade is growing fast and attracting a lot attention, especially in a number of U.S. ports.
London-based Drewry Shipping Consultants said in its latest annual report on reefer cargo that “Reefer container volumes are forecast to rise by 20.5 million tons” over the next five years from a base of 90 million in 2013. Drewry also states that, over the last 10 years, “Worldwide seaborne perishable trade rose at an annual rate of 3.2 percent… Sectors driving this growth have been meat and exotic fruit with the latter rising as much as 9.3 percent each year.”
However, it has not been all roses. According to Drewry, there have been some casualties among the specialized reefer fleet (refrigerated vessels with bulk or palletized cargo), which is declining as shippers more and more prefer the convenience of temperature-controlled containers.
“Reefer capacity on the containership fleet is expected to increase by 22 percent over the next five years at the expense of the specialized reefer fleet,” states Drewry.
“Reefer box capacity is expected to increase by 300,000 40-foot slots to 1.9 million by 2018, and overall seaborne perishable reefer trade will increase 17 percent between 2013 and 2018, providing an additional 16.5 million tons of cargo,” Drewry predicts.