Specialised reefer vessels are slowly going the way of the dodo as container shipping lines are increasing their share of the seaborne reefer market and are forecast to accelerate this over the coming years, according to the latest edition of the Reefer Shipping Market Review and Forecast 2017/18 published by global shipping consultancy Drewry.
Last year, an estimated 79% of perishable reefer cargo was carried in containerships, while 21% was carried in specialised reefers. But, by 2021, Drewry forecasts this split to change to close to 85% in containerships to 15% in specialised ships.
One development this year the report noted was specialised reefer operator Seatrade teaming up with CMA CGM to provide a weekly sailing between Europe and Australasia. However, it is too early to determine if this will set a trend for the industry.
The seaborne reefer industry in general is expected to continue growing, with Drewry predicting seaborne reefer cargo to increase by an average of 2.8% per year and by 2021, exceeding 134m tonnes.
The Drewry report pointed out that one area to watch is the potential lack of reefer container equipment. A lack of recent investment has already led to shortages in Europe and Brazil during the second quarter of 2017. The report says this situation is likely to repeat itself, as a lack of container equipment orders placed in 2017 so far is a concern.
Drewry report editor Kevin Harding said the reefer sector continues to report strong cargo growth which is very encouraging for vessel operators.
“However, the transition from the specialised operators to the reefer containership operators is gaining momentum,” he said.
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