Friday, August 17, 2018

German Container Shipping Line Orders Reefers as East African Trade Grows

Investment in Technologically Advanced Cold Boxes Paying Off
Shipping News Feature
GERMANY – EAST AFRICA – It is a busy month for shipping line Hapag-Lloyd which is investing in its container fleet and has ordered 11,100 state-of-the-art reefer boxes. The new containers will be integrated to the company’s existing fleet of 91,000 reefers, with delivery gradually starting in August and to be finally completed by December 2018. The company is also continuing to focus on the growing market in East Africa. With an annual growth rate of approximately 6%, the region tops the list on the African continent. Kenya, in particular, is developing with significantly rising import and export figures as well as massive investments in public infrastructure.

First those reefers, Hapag-Lloyd currently says it has a significant footprint in the refrigerated container market and the company has continuously invested in new reefer equipment throughout the past years. Since 2015 alone the liner shipping company has now purchased a total of 30,550 new reefers to ensure that it can offer modern equipment and sufficient seasonal availability to its customers, particularly during peak times such as the harvesting seasons of fruits or vegetables. Clemens Holz, Director Reefer Products, said:

“We experience very positive feedback from our clients on our ability to deliver consistent quality services in the reefer business. Furthermore, we see increasing demand from clients to transport temperature sensitive goods. To benefit from additional opportunities in this attractive market segment, we have decided to increase our reefer fleet.”

The production of the new reefers has already begun, with the first series of 40 foot containers. Two thousand of the new containers are equipped with ‘Controlled Atmosphere’ – a technology used to slow down the ripening process and to extend the shelf life of fruits and vegetables. The state-of-the-art containers will also have cooling units with the highest level of efficiency. The optimised power control will also consume significantly less energy, without any change in performance and temperature precision. Frank Nachbar, Director Container Engineering and Maintenance, commented:

"The new reefer containers undergo intensive tests before they are made available for our customers to transport their valuable freight.”

In addition to food products, Hapag-Lloyd also transports other sensitive products in reefer containers, such as high-value pharmaceuticals. The new order will expand the company’s footprint in this strategically important market. Doubtless the new boxes will be a boost to the rising level of East African trade. In April 2018 Hapag-Lloyd launched the East Africa Service (EAS), its first dedicated service to the region. The weekly service sails from Jeddah to Mombasa, and from there to Dar es Salaam, in Tanzania, and directly back to Jeddah.

After a successful start this service will be expanded in September with a weekly connection to and from Nhava Sheva, Mundra, Khor Fakkan, Jebel Ali, Mombasa and Dar es Salaam. The so called EAS2 will replace the current EAS service and directly link the Arabian Gulf and the West Coast of India with East Africa, whilst the company also offers inland transportation to and from East African hinterland locations of Bujumbura (Burundi), Kigali (Rwanda), Lubumbashi (Democratic Republic of Congo), Lusaka (Zambia) and Kampala (Uganda). Dheeraj Bhatia, Managing Director Africa, Middle East and Indian Subcontinent for Hapag-Lloyd AG, observed:

“I am delighted that our East Africa Service from and to Kenya is developing so positively. After only four months in operation, we have significantly expanded our business with overall vessel utilisation beyond our expectations. With our upcoming new EAS2 service we will be able to offer even better connections from and to East Africa. All in all we are experiencing growing client demand which demonstrates the economic potential of Kenya.”

Imports into Kenya are growing as the country sees significant growth in GDP, with automobiles, spares, machinery and electronic goods, as well as yarns high on the agenda as the country’s traditional exports, coffee and tea, are supplemented by rising overseas demand for its vegetables and fruit, plus finished textile goods.