Since 1928, Maersk Line has been known for its reliable, flexible and eco-efficient transportation and logistics services. Today, it provides end-to-end transportation to every corner of the globe, both by sea and by land. They number 630 vessels and 33,000 employees, with 306 offices in 114 countries.
As the building blocks of global trade, containers connect producers and consumers across continents, and according to The Economist, “the container has been more of a driver of globalization than all trade agreements in the past 50 years.”
Produce Business UK chatted with Cliff Adams, Reefer Manager for Maersk Line in the UK — one of this year’s exhibitors at the upcoming London Produce Show and Conference June 6-8 — to get a deeper understanding of some of their recent initiatives, particularly those affecting globalization and the world of perishables.
What would you say is Maersk’s main focus today for the produce industry? How has it enhanced trade processes?
Having pioneered refrigerated transport since 1936, we have the knowledge, equipment and expertise to streamline logistics and the supply chain with optimal refrigerated transport solutions. Whether you are shipping fruits and vegetables, bananas, fish and seafood, meat or pharmaceuticals, we safely transport goods from door to door in a sealed, remote-controlled environment to ensure it arrives in perfect condition.
Ultimate visibility with Remote Container Management is our unique selling point. A ground-breaking innovation in refrigerated technology, Remote Container Management (RCM) allows you to monitor the conditions inside your container from the moment your goods are locked inside, right up to delivery at their final destination. The Remote Container Management platform gives you complete insight into the state of your cargo, which increases your ability to act in case there are any inconsistencies during its journey. It helps us jointly create an alternative plan and reduce unnecessary costs and inconvenience for you. You get a whole new level of transparency into your own supply chain, which allows you to maintain the strong partnerships you have built with your customers by consistently staying informed of the condition of your shipments.
Essentially it brings you peace of mind when shipping fresh or frozen cargo – eliminating the risk of unexpected surprises when the container is opened upon arrival.
After five months in existence, more than 1,200 customers are using RCM on shipments representing more than 55 per cent of Maersk Line’s total annual reefer volumes. New features are now in development, including the ability to program automatic temperature adjustments during the voyage and even make cargo impact assessments for customers when disruptions occur.
Maersk also recently has serviced Chiquita with 2500 Star Cool Integrated™ containers. Can you tell us a little about that?
Well, to start with, transporting bananas over long distances used to be a challenge. If there is oxygen to consume, the produce will continue to ripen, and it becomes a race against time. With its airtight integrated container design, Star Cool CA precisely balances the atmosphere inside the container and allows shippers to carefully monitor and control the amount of carbon dioxide, oxygen and nitrogen.
The new batch of 2500 Star Cool Integrated™ containers from Maersk Container Industry (MCI) will be deployed in Chiquita Brands International’s (Chiquita) shipping services. Of the batch, 1000 integrated containers are equipped with MCI’s market-leading Star Cool CA (Controlled Atmosphere) system, which effectively preserves the freshness of bananas during transit. By controlling the ripening, Star Cool CA ensures an extended transportation window of up to 45 days and the arrival of the produce in perfect condition for a prolonged shelf life in the supermarkets.
Let’s talk about another of your most recent initiatives: digitization of global trade. Your new joint venture company with IBM is said to create the first open platform to provide more efficient and secure methods for conducting global trade using blockchain technology. How did this venture come about? What is the future of it?
We want to transform the industry by reducing the complexity.
We ship close to one out of five containers and one of four reefer containers globally, corresponding to approximately 13 million 40-foot containers annually. For each container shipped, there may be up to 30 different parties involved, communicating up to 200 times. Although we have seen some development over the last decade, the basic shipping experience is virtually unchanged seen from a customer’s point of view.
Maersk will use blockchain technology to power the new platform in order to help companies move and track goods digitally across international borders. This technology can benefit manufacturers, shipping lines, freight forwarders, port and terminal operators and customs authorities.
Clearly, Maersk is utilizing technology to advance its systems and digitize the trade process. What about initiatives at a more grassroots level? It is said that approximately one-third of the food the world produces is supposedly either wasted by consumers or lost before it reaches the table. Is Maersk providing any solutions to this?
Yes. A.P. Moller–Maersk is investigating ways of helping to address the global challenge of food loss with a business solution. Maersk is inviting the best start-ups to bring their solutions forward, which can help reduce food loss across the value chain. Whether it’s new packaging and preservation methods, improved information flow, tracking food conditions, new market opportunities or any other solution … our ears are open. What Maersk will then offer to successful teams is 4 weeks of intensive support from Maersk and our partners Rockstart, with the potential for a future partnership or investment to develop ideas into a reality, which really makes a difference.
In terms of this waste of perishable foods, has the upshake of international borders — such as Brexit — had any effect on this?
In the mature UK and Irish market, we are not seeing any major shift in sourcing of perishable products. Nor are we seeing any switch from refrigerated to frozen.
Taking the example of Latin America, our reefer volume has remained stable and in line with the seasonality we would expect. We have not seen any significant change in volume patterns since the Brexit result. Volumes have increased slightly, which is in line with the UK government boosting interests in the Latin America region post-Brexit.
Could it even be that there is more demand now?
Shipping offers a safe and cost-effective solution to customers wanting to transport their fresh produce around the globe. Remote container management has, in fact, enhanced this further. Refrigerated cargo can be high value and high risk, and our solutions give that peace of mind to know their produce is safe.
What other global challenges do you see as affecting trade in the future?
We continue to see changing sourcing patterns due to unpredictable weather conditions and geo-political decisions that impact trade. This dynamic environment makes planning more challenging, so reefer container carriers need to be agile and flexible to meet growing demand and accommodate changing requests. With comprehensive global coverage and the largest modern reefer fleet out there, Maersk Line is well-positioned to continue to fulfill our customers’ needs.
Finally, let’s talk about the London Produce Show. Is it your first time exhibiting there? What do you expect from the show? What can people expect from you?
We are very excited to be exhibiting at our first London Produce Show and offering our expertise and solutions to the industry. We can’t wait to meet lots of new people, see our customers at the show, as well as sample some of the fantastic produce on offer!
For further information, visit www.londonproduceshow.co.uk