Transit time advantage driving reefer sector, says NYKCool
Specialized reefer shipping company NYKCool continues to see strong business opportunities despite moves in the industry towards containers to control costs.
NYKCool Chile managing director Ricardo Barckhahn told www.freshfruitportal.com while the 'containerization' of the fruit industry was obvious, there was still space for specialized shipping focused on certain products, niches and markets.
He said transit time and condition control were still significant comparative advantages in favor of reefer shipping in many cases.
"A container ship has a cost structure that is completely different to ours. They are ships that look greatly for economies of scale, carrying a large volume of cargo on board, with return cargo, and they have to support the cost equation," he said.
"I think it is important to have in mind that today Chile is in the part of the season when a high volume is managed in a short time. That's why I think a refrigerated vessel continues and will continue to be an important role in these logistics and operations.
"There are people who are very faithful to the conventional system. There are clients who really prefer to ship in [cold] storage vessels for their conditions of quality and transit time, knowing that perhaps they'll pay a little more."
He said reefer vessels included monitoring of air delivery, the temperature and the amount of carbon dioxide - all adding an advantage of greater certainty.
"In a container it closes and you don't know what will happen until you open it at the destination and you find out what's inside.
He said the transit time issue could be best illustrated by comparing the difference between reefers and containers as like the difference between riding a taxi or the bus.
"A bus has to follow a route with predetermined stops and take on the highest possible amount of users. With a taxi you get on at point A, where you need it, and it takes you directly to point B.
"Without a doubt, direct services with a lower transit time have a comparative advantage, but it's there where you have the segmentation for a type of product. There are products that are less sensitive to transit time, perhaps giving you the luxury of delaying arrival a little bit.
"I dare say they are complementary services. They are not services that should compete, because they have completely different structures and operations."