Antwerp, a major hub of the worldwide perishables flow

Monday 26 02 2018

The Antwerp port community had a prominent presence at Fruit Logistica in Berlin, where the more than 3,000 exhibitors at this leading fruit industry event drew 76,000 visitors. Together with nine specialist cold chain service providers, Antwerp Port Authority was able to convince these visitors of the innovative, sustainable and smart solutions that the port has to offer for the transport and handling of perishable foodstuffs.

Nearing the 10 million tonne-mark 

During the past year the port of Antwerp handled a volume of 9,969,036 tonnes of temperature-controlled goods, an increase of 7.5% on the 2016 figure. The volume of reefer containers was up by as much as 8.5%, to 765,105 TEU. 


The continuing growth in reefer consignments passing through the port of Antwerp is due to three important developments:

- The growing number of shipping connections with West Africa, South America and the Levant 

- Additional storage capacity and value-added services

- Innovative, sustainable transport solutions. 


Connections with the main fruit and vegetable regions

Antwerp's hub function for perishables was further boosted last year with the expansion of existing services and the addition of new ones. In 2017 there were new and more frequent connections with West Africa (Cameroon, Côte d'Ivoire, Ghana and Morocco) and Latin America (Ecuador, Chile and Peru). In the Levant there is a new connection with Beirut and faster transit times from Turkey and Italy. 

The port of Antwerp regularly acts as the first port of call in Western Europe for these services, a significant advantage for such sensitive cargoes.


First-class handling in the port

Specialist logistics service providers for cold storage and handling are investing heavily in additional services. Thus Antwerp Cold Stores has set up a new refrigerated section (0 to 18°C) with a capacity of 7,500 pallet places. The facility is a recognised bonded warehouse and is certified for storage of biological products. Luik Natie, another logistics service provider, is to begin construction next month of a reefer warehouse (6,000 m²) for honey and bananas, and plans to build a new deep-freeze warehouse in 2019 with a capacity of 22,000 pallet places. 


New transport and supply chain solutions

ECU Worldwide, the largest groupage service provider in the port, recently started a reefer service for LCL consignments between Europe and the USA (Baltimore). The company offers a monthly groupage service for deep-freeze goods and a two-weekly service for temperature-controlled consignments.

In a further development various logistics players have achieved a significant modal shift from road to water transport. Remant Logistics, for example carries Belgian deep-frozen chips (french fries) to the port by barge, thus taking 8,000 trucks off the road. The De Witte Group importer for its part transports Costa Rican pineapples from the port of Antwerp to Brussels by reefer barge.

Finally, the foodstuffs service provider Foodcareplus has recently incorporated blockchain technology in its data platform, so that shippers and buyers now have more reliable and transparent information on the temperature, location and security monitoring of their food products.


Major foodstuffs conferences in Antwerp

This year Antwerp is due to host two important events in the refrigerated logistics sector, at which food specialists will consider the future of "fresh food logistics."

The 21st European Cold Chain Conference is being held from 14 to 16 March, while the Cool Logistics Global Conference & Exhibition will celebrate its 10th anniversary in Antwerp from 2 to 4 October. 

The preference given to Antwerp by conference organisers for these international events once more underscores the important role played by Antwerp in this freight category. 

More information on Antwerp as a cold chain hub for perishables