Silver sponsor MSC gives insight on challenges facing the banana market amid Covid-19
Dennis ALibux

The Cool Logistics team speaks with Dennis Alibux – Reefer Manager, MSC Netherlands, about how MSC is helping its customers navigate the challenges facing exporters and importers amid Covid-19.

How have you seen Covid-19 affecting the banana market?  

The impact of the pandemic has been widespread and, as well as affecting people’s health worldwide, it has had a well-documented impact on the supply chain. As people have become more focussed on health and wellbeing as a consequence of the pandemic, the fresh fruit and vegetable market has also seen an increase in demand, putting additional pressure on the supply chain.  

Whereas under normal circumstances we’d expect to see exporters exploring new markets, we have instead seen a focus on maintaining ‘normality’ for customers, delivering the volumes demanded and ensuring goods arrive regularly and in good condition. 

What are the current challenges for importers and exporters in the banana market

Competition is high in the market – margins are constantly under pressure and customers are always trying to find new ways to increase operational efficiencies. Bananas are a popular fruit year-round, and we did not see the drop in volumes earlier in the year that we did with some other commodities – in fact the total banana market in Rotterdam increased in 2020 vs 2019, and we expect this trend to continue.  

This means that banana exporters and importers are under pressure to deliver quality goods all year round, and are counting on their partners in the transport industry to help them move their cargo efficiently and reliably. MSC has formed lasting partnerships with customers and suppliers across the cold supply chain and are constantly working to mitigate against the challenges our customers are facing, providing support at every stage of their cargo’s journey. 

How has the banana market changed in the past few years? 

Thanks to major advancements in refrigerated container technology global demand for fresh fruit shipped by reefer container has grown by as much as 40% over the last decade, as exporters become less reliant on traditional methods of transport and have started shipping their goods from A to B. 

Advanced technology like Controlled Atmosphere solutions mean that perishable goods can spend longer on their journeys whilst still arriving at their destinations fresh. This has opened up a new world of options for importers and exporters of bananas – which are a very delicate commodity.  

How has MSC responded to this? 

MSC has responded by implementing direct services from key fruit markets such as Costa Rica, Ecuador, Peru and Brazil, and has expanded its shipments of refrigerated containers year on year – in 2020, we transported more than 1.9 million TEU of reefer cargo topping our previous record of 1.8 million in 2019.  

We have been expanding our reefer fleet for temperature-sensitive cargo, notably by adding 15,000 Star Cool units in 2020, and we now have one of the newest reefer fleets in the world. We have also invested heavily in Controlled Atmosphere solutions, and have established dedicated teams of over 1,000 reefer experts, available 24/7, across the world, who are continuously trained to meet the growing reefer market demands and to ensure our customers’ cargo is in safe hands at every stage of its journey – enabling us to deliver global solutions, locally. 

How will MSC continue to support the refrigerated supply chain in the future? 

Reefer container shipping is expected to continue its rise for the foreseeable future, and MSC is committed to offering new opportunities for all participants in the refrigerated cargo supply chain, from producer to consumer. 

However, it’s not only about physical infrastructure; MSC is also focussed on the digital future of the supply chain.  We have been investing in developing digital tools to make shipping safer, more efficient and more sustainable, and we are taking steps to drive digitalisation across our industry. 

A few years ago MSC launched myMSC – a secure and user-friendly online tool that makes it easy to manage every stage of the shipping process. Customers can use myMSC to place bookings, track their shipments, view their order history, get online quotes, see draft Bills of Lading and more.  

Most recently, MSC has launched its electronic Bill of Lading (e-BL) solution, replacing the traditional paper Bill of Lading with a digital version, enabling shippers and other key stakeholders of the supply chain to receive and transmit all trade-related documents electronically. The application is available for shippers, importers and traders of all industries and sizes worldwide and requires no additional IT infrastructure or operational change.  

MSC’s Global Chief Digital and Information Officer, André Simha, will be discussing the advantages of eBL at this year’s Cool Logistics Event as part of a case-study panel, revealing how this new technology has helped our customers save time, reduce costs and mitigate the impact of trade disruptions on cargo flows during COVID-19. 

Sign up to hear André Simha speak via the Cool Logistics event page using this link here 

Find out more about MSCs refrigerated solutions here

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