European Ports - Europe’s airports/seaports perishables

By: | at 07:00 PM | Channel(s): Ports & Terminals  

By Karen E. Thuermer, AJOT
The battle is on to attract and retain perishable shipments in Europe. The issue is not so much about the commodity itself, however. Europe, with its love for quality, will always be a market for importing or exporting commodities such as fresh fruits, vegetables, flowers, fish, meats and poultry. The competition lies between airports and seaports, both of which are stepping up their ability to handle this niche business.
The facts speak for themselves. Between 1997 and 2002, air transport of fruits, vegetables and flowers increased by six percent, while at the same time the same commodities moved by sea increased 21%. The movement of meat, fish and poultry grew by 15% via air; 34% by ship. The reason for the bigger jump in sea transport?
“Sea transport is significantly cheaper than air, and there are better supply chains in place,” says Marco Bloemen, partner, YDL Management Consultants.
Obviously, there are some perishables that are better shipped via sea than air, such as meats, poultry and stone fruit. But flowers and items with shorter shelf life will always be destined to fly.
To guarantee their market share of the business, here is what some European airports and seaports are doing to improve their service and nab their share of the business.
Freshport at Amsterdam’s Schiphol Airport
Freshport, a new perishables handling center at Amsterdam’s Schiphol Airport, opened for business last year, the result of a 50-50 joint venture between Menzies World Cargo (MWC) and Icelandic transportation and logistics organization, Eimskip.
The new facility is one of the most modern border inspection posts in Europe with a surface area of 3,150 square meters, including 735 cubic meters of cooling and refrigeration facilities with computer-regulated temperature control. Freshport offers a full range of services for perishable cargo, such as fresh fish, meat products and ornamental fish and has the capacity to store the equivalent cargo loads of three Boeing 747 freighter aircraft, well over 300 tons, simultaneously. Located in the Schiphol South area of the airport, the facility has the capacity to handle 800,000 kilograms of perishables at any time in dedicated cool, frozen or air-conditioned storage units.
The services offered by the new border inspection post enable specialized cargo, mainly perishables, to be handled in a fast and efficient manner, producing time-savings of up to two hours in many cases.
According to Menzies representatives, the Freshport move reinforces its position as the largest independent cargo handler in the Netherlands. Menzies now offers Freshport’s services to all airlines and forwarders at the airport.
“Schiphol is now Menzies’ second largest cargo hub in Europe,” says Richard Hepburn, business development director at MWC. “This joint venture with Eimskip will enable Menzies to improve its range of services and will help us to further increase our market share at the airport.”
Brucargo Perishables Center
This June, a new perishables center opened at Brucargo, the dedicated cargo handling area of Brussels Airport, Belgium.
Brucargo ranks within the European top five as a cargo airport, with 603,737 metric tons shipped in 2003. Brucargo is an air cargo city on its own, linked to the passengers aircraft stands (belly-freight) by a tunnel under the runways.
A dedicated cold storage and handling facility, the Brussels Perishables Centre (BPC) is the first of its kind in Europe. The BPC offers a cutting-edge infrastructure for handling and storing perishable commodities, in total conformity with the strictest EU regulations and in line with market and customer demands.
The center has three separate handling and storage spaces: 1,200 square meters for fruit, vegetables and flowers; 1,200 square meters for fish and shellfish and 400 square meters for meat and dairy products.
Port of Hamburg
On the seaport side of the business, the Port of Hamburg offers a range of facilities for handling foodstuffs and

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American Journal of Transportation