NYK-Star Reefers announced in June
that they had decided to end their partnership due to a
difference on the strategy to pursue. NYK came to an
agreement to share tonnage with Lauritzen-Cool (about 70
ships ranging from 37,500 with 760,000 cu ft) and took a
50 % share in Lauritzen-Cool Logistics.
With effect from May 1st
2003 Russia initiated import quotas for poultry, beef and
pork. This measure was aimed to protect domestic production.
Russia imports some 2.7 million tons of meat per year and
produces 4.7 million tons. Fresh fruit imports into Russia
reached 2.6 million tons, getting back to their best levels
since 1998 and it is anticipated that there will be an
increase of 10 to 15 % for 2004.
In Europe the heavy frosts in
April affected Italy, Greece and France. A quarter of the
production of stone fruit was lost. During the summer an
exceptional heat wave which lasted over a month had tragic
consequences for much of the cultivated areas in Europe.
In Morocco the citrus fruit and
vegetable harvest was particularly good with a record level
of 2 300 000 tons and was accompanied by an increase in
exports of over 10 % compared to the previous season (namely
877,000 tons). In all 398,000 pallets were loaded in
conventional ships, of which 200,000 went to the Continent
and Canada, and the balance to Russia, the Baltic countries,
and the Red Sea, sold fob. Nearly all the tomatoes exported
went by truck via
some 400,000 pallets.
In the Ivory Coast banana
producers (220,000 tons exported p.a.) were more affected by
the poor conditions of the market in Europe rather than
their local political crisis. Despite a tense situation,
exports of pineapple and bananas were able to continue their
normal routing through Abidjan. The 2003 drop in the volume
of pineapples was due to bad climatic conditions especially
during the period from 15 November to 15 December.
In Cameroon according to the FAO
banana production was up 30 % over the last three years
(260,000 tons exported in 2002 of which 90 % to Europe). It
is predicted that the producing countries of West Africa
next year will be exporting double the amount of bananas
towards Europe as the Caribbean countries, members of ACP.
South African exports of citrus
fruit slightly surpassed a million pallets and were
stretched out until the end of the summer, which allowed the
market to remain buoyant, as a lot of these cargoes were
headed for Russia in conventional ships (the containerships
are not yet operating directly into Russia). Sixty-five per
cent of apple and pear exports are carried in containers to
Equador, the world's number one
exporter of bananas, experienced producers' strikes in May
then in October, with the latter hoping to obtain a
government guarantee for a minimum price. Unfortunately this
is a recurring problem and the market price level of
'dollar-banana' stayed too low to allow exporters to pay a
minimum price, including the cost of packing and freight.
The Costa Rican pineapple
production is increasing strongly, and given the area under
production, which has gone up from 6,100 hectares in 1995 to
15,000 hectares today, the over-production risk is high.
Costa Rica is the first exporter of fresh pineapple (roughly
387,000 tons) to the US and Europe. It is the biggest rival
to the Ivory Coast, which exports about 240,000 tons to
Europe. The Philippines export 154,000 tons, followed by
Mexico with 117,000 tons.
In Brazil according to the FAO the
area cultivated for bananas is being greatly increased
mainly through the initiatives of Del Monte.
Brazil was only
exporting 72,000 tons of bananas in 2000, whereas in 2003
this now reaches a total of about 255,000 tons.
In Argentina fruit volumes being
exported have grown this year, with the weakness of the peso
being a major argument within the international discussions.
Europe is the main
client for pears, apples and grapes from Argentina: 450,000
pallets of fruit were exported in 2003. In 2003 Russia
became the major client of Argentina with 65,000 tons
imported covering all fruits.
Exports of citrus fruit in 2003
reached roughly 450,000 tons (lemons and grapefruit for
220,000 pallets and oranges for 250,000) of which 67 % is
headed for the Continent and 14 % to Russia.
Owners of container lines have
reinforced their presence in the Argentinean export market
to Europe, and out of 340,000 pallets transported Maersk
moved 60,000 in containers. Half of the exports of pears
and apples (about 200,000 pallets) should be transported by
and CSAV in 2004.
In Chile one has seen the same
phenomenon as in Argentina with an accelerated competition
in the transport of fruit to European destination, between
the conventional reefer ships and the containerships. Maersk
has signed an agreement with Del Monte for Europe which
covers 11.1 million cardboard boxes exported by this group,
of which 15 to 20 % is towards Europe. With a transit time
of 19 days to Rotterdam, Maersk seems to have attracted the
grape exporters to adopting the 'container' solution.
2003 was a record year for Chile,
according to ASOEX (the association of exporters of fresh
products), with volumes reaching 181 million cardboard boxes
exported for $ 1.63 billion, namely 4 % more in value than
the previous year. Although the US and Canada still remain
the principal markets, Europe has increased its share by
20 % in volume thanks to the strength of the euro and also
to the free trade agreement signed in February with the
European Union, which has permitted Chile to sell her grapes
without any customs duty (60 % of the total in value of
exports to Europe).
In New Zealand, where climatic
conditions led one to fear a drop in the kiwi production,
the spring frosts did not have any serious consequences and
despite the firmness of the New Zealand dollar, sales
progressed 8 % in value.
New Zealand's kiwi
production amounts to 242,000 tons in 2003.
The boost in New Zealand export
was also facilitated by the drop in Chilean production down
8 % (119,000 tons) as well as the consequences of the heat
wave in Europe last summer. Bad weather severely curtailed
the apple crop which was only 15 million cardboard boxes
instead of the 17.5 to 18 million normally and resulted in
the cancellation of several ships to Europe and conventional
ships to the US West Coast. Fifty-nine per cent of apple
exports are now shipped in containers as compared to only
38 % in 2000.
The kiwi production in China has
gone from 118,000 tons in 1999 to 340,000 tons in 2003 and
it is predicted to reach 400,000 to 500,000 tons in 2006.
What share of this will be exported?
At the same time China imported
about 400,000 to 425,000 tons of bananas mainly from the
Philippines whose domestic production is estimated to be 5.3
million tons. The Philippines are ideally situated to supply
the Chinese market with tropical fruits and a considerable
increase in trade is expected over the next 3 years, judging
by the investments being made by the Japanese group Sumitomo
($ 50 million in banana plantations).