New twice-weekly express service expands Mindanao region’s capacity to export fresh produce to major global markets.

APL, a global leader in container transportation and logistics, today announced the launch of a new twice-weekly service to cater for the growing global demand for Philippines produce.

The Mindanao Express (MDX) will provide a 700-teu weekly capacity increase for cargo moving from the region of Mindanao and other key Philippines locations before connecting with APL’s global service network.

Three dedicated vessels of between 700 and 850 teu capacity will make twice-weekly calls to the ports of Bugo and Davao, also calling at Cagayan and General Santos, before connecting via Singapore and Taiwan to destinations in Asia, Europe and North America.

Demand for goods from the Mindanao region such as fruit, tuna and rubber is strong, with fruit production in particular a key driver of export growth. The US Government’s recent decision to include selected products from the Philippines in the US Generalized System of Preference ’ including bananas ’ has boosted Mindanao exports. Mindanao currently accounts for more than 95% of the country’s banana export requirements. The total value of Philippines banana exports are expected to reach US$4.5 billion in the six years between 2004 and 2009.

Launching the service, Jim McAdam APL’s President Asia-Middle East, said: ‘The MDX represents the second phase of our Mindanao expansion. It substantially improves our ability to serve this fast-growing growing economy, and to maintain our leadership position throughout the Philippines.’

The first phase of APL’s Mindanao expansion began last year with the opening of new landside infrastructure, including a state-of-the-art Reefer Centre in Davao, which has a total of 102 reefer points.

APL’s Vice President, Global Reefer, David Chan, said: ‘Our recent investment in reefer containers and landside infrastructure is complemented by the MDX, which is an important part of our strategy to be the leader in cold chain transportation in the Philippines. This is an increasingly important market driven by the ‘food basket’ of Mindanao, with strong demand coming from new markets such as Japan and the Middle East.’

In addition to bananas, Mindanao is expecting rapid growth in the export of mangoes and coconuts.

Maurice Mckeating, Managing Director of APL Philippines said: ‘Mindanao is an important market for APL - particularly for the export of fresh produce such as bananas. Speed to market is all-important when transporting these kinds of perishables. The MDX will significantly improve capacity and frequency for cargo from the Philippines to global markets via Singapore and Kaohsiung. This is central to our strategy of providing our customers with fast, efficient access to potentially lucrative new markets.’

APL has a long history in the Philippines, having begun serving the archipelago in 1917. Today it has nine offices and more than 100 staff.