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Prospects for Canadian ports’ cold cargo heat up - Subscriber Access Only

By BCShippingNews 31 January 2016

As a visit to Granville Island Mar-ket demonstrates, the world’s hunger for fresh fruit, meat and perishable foods has resulted in complex global supply chains as maritime transport of refrigerated cargoes is increasingly used to satisfy consumer demand. This article explores the state of the international vessel market and land-based transportation and logistics services that support the flow of refrigerated cargoes in Canada. It will conclude with some observations on the importance of trade agreements impacting the flow of refrigerated cargo in the year ahead.

International vessel market

One feature of global refrigerated shipping over the past 10 years has been that the fleet of breakbulk reefer vessels continues to shrink and shows no signs of reversing. Conventional refer vessels are still active in South America, Central America, the eastern Mediterranean, New Zealand and parts of Africa. However, the container ship reefer fleet is set to grow 20 per cent by 2018, according to Drewry’s latest Reefer Shipping Market Annual Review & Forecast. 

The top five container shipping lines regarding their reefer capacity are Maersk, MSC, CMA CGM, Hamburg Süd, and COSCO. Most of the largest vessels being built (i.e., the 18,000 TEUs) have about 1,000 reefer plugs; some in north-south trades, such as Maersk and Hamburg Süd, have specially designed shallow draft 7‑9,000 TEU ships, with large reefer capacity (upwards of 1,600‑1,700 plugs), to reflect the volume of reefer products moving in those trades.

Canadian ports and cargoes

Vancouver, Montreal and Halifax dominate Canada’s marine reefer cargo export market. Regarding imports, Vancouver handles the largest share, followed by Montreal and then Halifax.