Reefer market has seen a recovery in the last couple of years. In 2015, worldwide international refrigerated perishables trade volumes dipped by 2% of an estimated 144.4 million tons.
The reefer market grew in 2016 by 3.5% and in 2017 it was expected to improve by 4% as trade in both conventional reefer ships and refrigerated boxes is estimated to have reached 110 million tons, which equals some 9,100 laden conventional reefer ships of 500,000-cft average, or 3.71 million full 40-foot high cube reefer containers.
Carriers were forced to scale their operations through consolidation because of huge losses: CSAV and Hapag-Lloyd – CCNI and Hamburg Süd – China Shipping and Coscon – APL and CMA CGM – Hapag-Lloyd and UASC – Hamburg Süd and Maersk Line – and soon to happen: “K” Line, MOL, NYK as ONE and OOCL and Cosco Shipping Line.
Come April, the container ship fleets of the five consolidated container carriers plus loners MSC and Evergreen will range between 1.1 million TEU and 4.3 million TEU. These seven carrier have a combined reefer box fleet of 1,780,000 TEU, while their ships have place for 3,320,000 TEU, nearly 1.9 times the number refrigerated containers.
Carrier’s interest in Logistics
Even though the reefer market enjoyed a relatively peaceful 2017 with no new mergers or takeovers of substance, carriers have shown a growing interest in logistics. Eimskip took 80% and 90% shares in Belgian Mareco and Dutch Extraco, respectively. Italian GF Group, owner of conventional carrier Cosiarma, and Glenalta Food merged as Orsero, which acquired reefer logistics companies Hermanos Fernández López (Spain), Frutital Firenze and Galandi (Italy). Samskip of Rotterdam bought Nor Lines after Norwegian regulators refused the same to Samskip’s major competitor Eimskip.
The European Commission cleared the takeover of (Irish) Fyffes by Japanese Sumitomo Corporation. Toei Reefer Line (Japan) is facing a management buyout of around around $30 million by five leading executives who formed Ocean Co.
Belgian Greenyard, with a market value $1 billion and handling two million tons of fresh food worldwide, expressed its interest in taking over 2013 Dole Food Company.
Containers and reefer market
Around 160,000 TEU reefer containers were built in 2017, which equals to 84,000 units. China International Marine Containers (CIMC) and Maersk Container Industry (MCI) are the main manufacturers.
Hapag-Lloyd placed the largest known orders for refrigerated boxes, 21,600 TEU/11,400 units, and by MOL, 4,200 TEU/2,200 units, each including 1,000 and 2,000 with controlled atmosphere technology.
With an average age of nearly 30 years and limited newbuilding activity, the conventional reefer ship fleet is doomed to decline further and steadily. Dynamar expects the fleet to number some 400 ships with a combined reefer capacity of 132 million cubic feet.
With information from: maritime-executive.