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Reefer carriers expect record season for New Zealand

Shipping companies are expected to provide more capacity for Kiwi exports this year than ever before. Reefer shipping spot rates are already picking up significantly.

Thanks to a strong harvest, New Zealand’s kiwi farmers are launching their largest sea freight program to date. Almost 695,000 tons of fruit are to be exported by October, as announced by the distribution cooperative Zespri. This corresponds to an increase of +45% compared to the previous year and +10% compared to the previous peak year 2021.

According to Zespri, the charter program for conventional reefer ships will be expanded to 63 voyages, compared to 51 ships in the previous year. The “Kowhai” (12,374 dwt, built in 2020) from Japanese shipping company Fresh Carriers, which, together with Cool Carriers (Cyprus), is one of the most important tonnage providers for producers in New Zealand, kicked off the program last week. The freighter is on its way from Tauranga to Shanghai with over 2,500 tons of goods, it was reported.

Conventional reefer vessels are expected to carry around half of the total volume this year, with most of the voyages going to ports of destination in Asia and the Mediterranean region. The other half of the volume will be shipped by reefer container, mainly to Europe and North America.

This is likely to require more than 15,000 40-foot reefer containers. Despite the current market distortions in the shipping industry due to the security crisis in the Red Sea, Zespri is confident that it will be able to carry out the overseas deliveries as planned.

Meanwhile, reefer shipping space is also becoming increasingly scarce in other countries in the southern hemisphere due to rising demand. According to the Ecuadorian agency Sopisco, spot charter rates for large ships in the Atlantic have now climbed to 95 US cents per cubic foot (30-day term) – up from around 65 US cents in January. (mph)

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