February 10, 2018: With a total of 9,969,036 tonnes, the Port of Antwerp recorded a 7.5 percent increase in the handling of refrigerated containers and perishable goods in 2017 compared with the previous year. The growth measured in TEU is as high as 8.5 percent and increased from 704,853 TEU in 2016 to 765,105 TEU in 2017, said the port authority in a press release.
Seeing the growing trend, the service providers at the port are preparing the necessary conditions for the future – from the expansion of the infrastructure such as additional refrigerated and fresh storage facilities to innovative solutions such as blockchain technology and sustainable transport concepts like groupage freight transports or modal shift.
“The continuing growth of reefer traffic via the Port of Antwerp confirms that the range of transhipment and extended services for perishable goods offer real added value to the market. We are approaching the 10 million tonnes mark, which we hope to exceed next year," said Maartje Driessens, business development manager perishables of the Antwerp Port Authority.
Connections to the world's fruit and vegetable regions have also improved significantly. In 2017 alone, new or expanded connections to West Africa (including Cameroon, Côte d' Ivoire, Ghana and Morocco) and Latin America (including Ecuador, Chile and Peru) have been added. Also the Levante Express of MSC has been further improved and now offers a direct connection to Beirut as well as optimised transit times between Antwerp and Turkey and Italy. Antwerp is frequently the first port of call in Western Europe, which is a particular advantage for this sensitive cargo.
Expansion of storage capacities and value-added services
In addition to transhipment, the specialised Port of Antwerp also offers a wide range of services, from special refrigerated and fresh storage areas to expert value-added services such as quality control, ripening and assistance for phytosanitary inspection as well as customs clearance. Specialized service providers adapt their capacities to the increasing demand. Antwerp Cold Stores, for example, recently opened a new fresh produce area in its warehouse. Four cells in the temperature range between 0 and 18 °C provide capacity for 7,500 pallet spaces. The warehouse can be used as a bonded warehouse and is certified for organic products. It is ideal for potatoes, vegetables, fruit, nuts, but also for milk and dairy products or honey. In March, construction work will begin on a cold storage facility for Luik Natie Coldstore with 6,000 square metres of space for honey and bananas from Ecuador and Côte d' Ivoire. Luik Natie also plans to build a warehouse for frozen products with a capacity of around 22,000 pallet spaces by 2019.