Belgian freight forwarding group Foodcareplus is launching a set of new less-than-container-load (LCL) reefer consolidation services beginning with a Canada-North Europe offering next month.
Its new weekly Halifax-Antwerp service, scheduled to start in mid-June, is addressed at small- and medium-sized Canadian seafood exporters that are currently lacking economic delivery options to Europe. These exporters do not have sufficient volumes individually to fill a standard forty-foot reefer container while air freight is too expensive for them to sell into Europe at a competitive price.
Foodcareplus’ consolidation service allows them to book LCL quantities like a couple of pallets, which will be collected and combined with other seafood cargoes to full container loads (FCL) in a refrigerated warehouse in Halifax.
The service provider arranges the port-to-port leg – initially only using a service operated by Hapag-Lloyd – as well as unloading, storage, food inspections, and customs clearance in Antwerp. It also offers door delivery by road to customers in all major Western European countries.
Cargo consolidation services in the reefer sector have been quite limited so far due to the sensitive nature of perishable commodities and the risks associated with multiple handoffs, forcing shippers in many cases to opt for more expensive air freight.
Foodcareplus said it expects a good take-up of its new offering by Canadian seafood exporters that are looking to expand their deliveries into Europe under the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) between Canada and Europe. Most EU import tariffs for fish and seafood products will be phased out once the trade pact becomes effective in 2016 or 2017.
Foodcareplus’ sales and marketing director Steve Alaerts told IHS Maritime that further reefer LCL offerings will be launched around late summer. The plan is to set up weekly consolidation services in different temperature ranges for the Europe-North America trade, he said.