South Africa’s fruit exporters have looked at alternatives to container shipping services, which were badly affected by wind problems at the Cape Town Container Terminal last season.

On 26 September a group of 14 major exporters, including Capespan, Dole and Asda-owned International Procurement & Logistics, contracted shipowner NYKCool to charter four conventional reefer vessels to coincide with the peak shipping season for this year’s grape harvest. The growers could not allow themselves to be vulnerable to the delays experienced during last year’s peak season, when some export shipments were delayed by as much as 90 days.

The problem started when Transnet Port Terminals invested in a fleet of rubber-tyred gantry cranes for the terminal yard, but these cranes were unable to operate in winds greater than 60kmh, and during Cape Town’s summer months the prevailing wind regularly exceeds that. Altogether, around 20,000 pallets will be shipped on the four sailings. The container shipping lines will lose a combined $4 million as a result of the switch. RC

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