Demand for reefer containers surges

By Rosemary Weber :: August 20, 2018

The worlds demand for perishables products is growing exponentially and the reefer trade is now outpacing the overall container trade. For the first time since the inception of the containerized trade reefer containers rates have surpassed and outperformed the dry rates. Here at Commodity Forwarders Inc., we have seen an upward trend towards increased reefer traffic as the carriers offer better and more sophisticated reefer units to the trade.  At the same time the use of specialized reefer vessels is shifting to containers.

Commodities that were only sent air freight several years ago are now being sent by ocean freight.  Avocados, Blueberries, and Lettuce are just a few of the commodities that shipper’s favor moving via ocean. As the Chinese and Indian middle class grow, so does their demand for perishables products.  In particular the Europe to China market has seen an upsurge of perishable reefer containers moving. The only dark spot on the forecast are the trade disputes, which will account for a slowing in the growth of the reefer market anticipated at 3.6 % over the next 5 years. Many larger NVOCC’s have taken notice of this trend and are trying to break into this already competitive market.

In fact, according to Loadstar, the container markets are moving further apart as reefer rates have risen 3% over the last year and a half, while dry boxes have seen their rates fall 14% in the same time. “This demonstrates despite broader weakness in the container market, reefer rates have held, rewarding carriers that have chosen to invest in the cargo segment,” says a report by Drewery. “Meanwhile, time charter rates for specialist reefer vessels recovered in 2017 from the previous year’s lows but have since come under pressure and are expected to remain so.”

It is of the utmost importance to CFI that we remain up to date on the most crucial data that impacts our customers and their cargo. We continue to monitor the availability, price, fluctuations and information available regarding both the commodities they ship and the equipment necessary to the safe and proper care of those commodities. If you have questions or concerns regarding your perishable cargo or the containers necessary to ship, don’t hesitate to contact your CFI representative for assistance and guidance.