Twice as many reefer ships with conventional cargo are currently arriving at the Rotterdam Fruit Wharf in the Merwehaven. The measures taken in response to COVID-19 mean shipping companies have been unable to put enough reefer containers in the loading ports of South Africa. Consequently, these conventional reefer ships – with containers on deck and pallets in the hold – have become considerably more popular.
36 refrigerated containers – also called reefers – and 2,482 pallets full of South African fruit (including grapefruit, oranges, pears and lemons) were transshipped from the Crown Garnet at Rotterdam Fruit Wharf on 17 and 18 May. The ship belongs to the Reefer Alliance, a joint venture created by Seatrade and Baltic Shipping that operates a service between the South African ports of Durban, Port Elizabeth and Cape Town. From these loading ports, these ships transport citrus fruit in containers both on deck and below deck to Rotterdam and St. Petersburg.
Cold stores on the waterfront
“This kind of ship usually arrives in Rotterdam once every two weeks and the number of pallets it has in the hold is considerably less. This one is already the second in a series of four arrivals that have taken place in May. Owing to the shortage of 40 TEU reefers, demand for this service is much higher than usual,” says Commercial Manager Peter van de Laar. He believes Rotterdam could easily cope with even more conventional reefer ships. “We used to handle three of this kind of ship a week. Currently, almost all fruit is transported in reefer containers. We are the only terminal in Rotterdam that is still properly equipped to receive conventional reefer ships. No one else has a cold store right on the waterfront like we do.”
On the quay of Rotterdam Fruit Wharf in the Merwehaven, the pallets of fruit are unloaded from the reefers on the ship directly into one of the cold stores. Once the containers have been unloaded from the deck, work can immediately start on unloading the pallets of fruit in the ship’s holds. All the fruit passes directly from the quay into the cold store to keep the cold chain as closed as possible.
Besides providing this special conventional service, Rotterdam Fruit Wharf also receives daily shipments of fruit containers from the regular Rotterdam container terminals. These containers are unloaded into one of the cold stores, where the fruit is kept at the correct temperature until it makes its way to a destination in Europe and perhaps even beyond.
Rotterdam Fruit Wharf
Rotterdam Fruit Warf is celebrating its tenth anniversary this year. While a lot of fruit disappeared to the south, the company has remained loyal to the north bank of the port of Rotterdam. Rotterdam Fruit Wharf is part of the SEA-invest Group and has terminals in Antwerp, Zeebrugge, Rotterdam and Hamburg, and cold storage warehouses in Cape Town and Durban.