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International reefer trade resilient

London: Drewry Maritime Research expects that the trade in perishable products will grow over the next five years but at a slightly faster level that that of the past decade drive by population growth and rising GDP that will stimulate demand for meat, seafood, fresh fruit and vegetables.

In its latest report, Reefer Shipping Market Review and Forecast 2012/13, the global reefer business is expected to post average annualised rates of growth in excess of 4% up to 2016. This compares with the 3.9% annualised increases posted between 2001 and 2011, a period characterised by rapid containerisation of the traffic moved.

The modal shift will continue, with the maritime analyst expecting scrappage levels this year to exceed previous records set in 1993 and 1999 and no newbuild orders in place.  It said that in the past 10 years, 234 ships had been removed from the fleet.

In contrast, more than 500 containerships await delivery, while the refrigerated container box fleet growth hit a record 13% during 2011 and ended the year at just over two million teu. This was almost double the 6.6% increase achieved in 2010 and is one of the highest rates of annual growth ever reported for the reefer box sector.

Drewry does not see the complete demise in the specialised reefer shipping sector, saying: “Containership operators are becoming more vocal in their need to increase reefer rates, and as supply and demand shifts, time-charter rates will once again start to increase.

“On this basis, survival in the specialised reefer industry appears to be achievable for the moment, based on its distinct advantages, expertise and service.”

In terms of trade, the report lists the total seaborne trade in refrigerated goods as reaching almost 91million tonnes in 2011, up from 36.4 million tonnes in 2001. Meat posted the strongest rise, jumping by 68% to 21.4 million tonnes.