Zespri kiwifruit arrives in China aboard first ever Italian charter vessel

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Zespri kiwifruit arrives in China aboard first ever Italian charter vessel

Zespri’s first-ever Italian reefer charter vessel has arrived in China’s Port of Shanghai.

The Baltic Performer, transported more than 4,000 pallets (equivalent to 3,300 tons or 942,000 trays) of Italian-grown SunGold Kiwifruit just in time for the Chinese New Year, which will be celebrated on Jan. 22.

The new three week route from Reefer Terminal in the Port of Vado effectively halves the transit time of container shipments between Italy and China. 

Nick Kirton, Zespri Executive Officer- Northern Hemisphere, highlighted this important milestone: “We first started this process in 2018, with an ambition of establishing a more efficient manner of transporting fruit from our Northern Hemisphere growing regions to our growing customer base in China.” 

“We could see the benefits shorter transit times and better temperature management across a single ship rather than multiple containers could bring in terms of improving fruit quality, with a charter vessel service also offering greater certainty at a time when we continue to see congestion and delays within the global shipping container market,” added Kirton. 

A key aspect of the direct service was the support of the Italian industry through CSO Italy and Fruitimprese and the effort of the Italian Phytosanitary Service by establishing a new protocol to enable charter vessels to export kiwifruit from Italy.

The protocol itself had been established in 2020 but suffered delays due to the Covis-19 pandemic, making the Baltic Performer the first international fruit charter to enter under the new protocol.

“There’s been a huge amount of work put into creating this new service over the last four years and we’d like to particularly thank our shipping and logistics partners in Italy - Cool Carriers, the Reefer Terminal in Vado, Tramaco and FRESCO, as well as in China – Shanghai South Port and Sinotrans PFS, and officials from both countries,” said Kirton. 

The executive stated that the relationships and partnerships Zespri has formed in Italy reflect the industry’s ability to continue to work together technically and commercially, and privately and publicly.

“Safely and quickly transporting our fruit to market is critical and a significant element of our industry’s success, and we look forward to more successful charter vessels delivering our Northern Hemisphere fruit directly to our customers throughout Asia in the years ahead,” Kirton said. 

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