Despite a variety of adverse economic and climatic conditions, perishable reefer cargo growth appears unstoppable, according to Drewry’s latest Reefer Shipping Market Annual Review & Forecast.
Worldwide perishable reefer trade increased by 1.8% in 2014 – reaching almost 190 million tonnes. Although this was barely half of the growth seen in 2013 it nevertheless represented a continuing growth pattern. With the exception of the citrus trades, all perishable reefer cargoes saw trade growth in 2014.
Having also reviewed key bi-lateral trades in the report for the first time, some interesting figures are revealed – not least of which being a significant decrease in the citrus trade over the last three years between the US and Japan.
The seaborne trade growth of perishable reefer cargoes was particularly strong in 2014 – increasing by 4.9% year-on-year, far higher than the average of the last decade. Again, only the citrus trades failed to perform. Conversely, the fish/seafood trades had an exceptional year in 2014 – with seaborne cargo growth in excess of 2 million tonnes.
The growth in reefer cargo is impressive not only because it has occurred consistently throughout the last decade, but also because it has done so despite a global economic downturn, severe weather conditions in many growing areas as well as port and terminal strikes and other industrial actions. Regardless, it seems the perishable reefer industry is able to withstand all of this – at least on a global basis – whereby the total seaborne volume in 2014 exceeded 100 million tonnes of cargo for the very first time.
The share of cargo between the reefer containership mode and the specialised reefer mode continued to grow in favour of the former – with over three-quarters of the perishable reefer seaborne trade being shipped by reefer containership services in 2014. By 2019 reefer containership services are expected to carry over 23 million tonnes more cargo than they did in 2014.
Container carriers will continue to increase their share of the seaborne reefer trade, but specialised carriers should only see a minimal loss of actual cargo volumes as a result of the overall increase in reefer cargoes forecast.