U.K.: Port of Dover eyes perishables through new terminal plan

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U.K.: Port of Dover eyes perishables through new terminal plan

A new proposal has been tabled which could see one of the leading ports in Britain significantly increase its import capabilities. The Port of Dover has provided a vital link between the English south coast and the European continent and beyond for decades. But new development plans could take the future import of fresh fruit and vegetables to a whole new level. In an interview with www.freshfruitportal.com, the port's chief executive Tim Waggott talks about his hopes for the future. Port of Dover sq - Wikimedia Commons

Waggott says 25% Great Britain’s banana imports came through Dover port last year, supplemented by pineapples, mangoes and melons.

The volume of fresh produce coming into the U.K could shoot up if plans to build a new cargo terminal at Dover, a strategic gateway into the U.K. and Europe, get off the ground.

The development focuses on creating additional capacity at the ferry port by transferring cargo operations from the Eastern docks, which handles the majority of passenger traffic, to the Dover Western Docks. This would mean an increase in consignments and would generate enough space to deal with larger deep-water vessels carrying produce from overseas.

"The objective is to relocate the existing cargo terminal which will free up space and enable us to take full advantage of market opportunities in the cargo business," Waggott explained.

"There is no doubt that this development will increase our cargo capabilities as we'll be able to move away from having one berth that we have at the moment on a fairly space-constrained site.

"Ships are getting bigger and the demand for space on those ships is becoming ever more competitive and that is what we’re looking to capitalize on. I certainly think that because we have more space, we’ll have the capability to take more products, including fresh produce, that is inevitable."

Waggott said limits were being 'pushed' with the existing facility, although it was still providing a "great service to importers and the retail trade".

Waggott said the development was about 'the future and long-term commitment', creating more jobs and giving the Dover port a much-needed renovation in terms of a passenger terminal and cargo capabilities. A waterside marina is also included in what will be a multi-million transformation.

Additional plans are in the pipeline to build packing houses and ripening facilities at Dover to deal with the expected upturn in fresh produce volume.

"The bulk of fresh produce coming in through Dover at the moment is bananas. We deal with around 25% of the country's imported bananas, coming from South America and Africa and that volume is supplemented by a range of pineapples, melons and a few other cargos. We have a little bit of asparagus coming in every now and again and we generally want to build on volumes of fresh produce.

"Supermarkets say that bananas are among the country's best sellers, so there is definitely more scope there.

"The hope is that alongside improving supply chain solutions, we will also see ripening and packaging facilities built up next to the discharge facilities in Dover and that will enable us to create a number of high quality supply chain and logistics jobs over time."

Commercial confidentiality prevents him from discussing specific companies interested in the development, although during Fruit Logistica last week, the Dover Port team met with several retailers and trade parties potentially interested in the plans.

"It was a really superb event and we received lots of excellent feedback from people involved in the trade from a retail and supply chain perspective.

"We know that some companies are very happy where they are, while there are other companies still looking for a home in terms of the supply chain and we’re very confident that we can grow our business.

The development work could begin in phases and will be funded from a combination of reserves, borrowing and inward investment from the trade as companies see the opportunities the new facility will bring.

The executive is hopeful that once finances are generated work can begin ‘fairly quickly’ and completion could be as soon as two years away.

Photo: Wikimedia Commons



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