World trade in perishable foods turns a page as Maersk Container Industry (MCI), an independent business unit in the Maersk Group conglomerate, today announced that it has begun production of the first refrigerated containers and Star Cool refrigeration machines built in South America at its new MCI facility in San Antonio, Chile.
The first trial production of these ISO standard 40 feet reefer containers were successfully delivered during the third quarter of 2015 into the Maersk Line and CMA CGM operations. Shortly thereafter, both shipping lines placed new orders. To further leverage this new value proposition, Maersk Line has secured a fixed monthly volume from the MCI facility allowing for increased agility and fast response time to the demand in the region.
“In this sweet spot of fruit exporters, we have placed the factory right where the demand is. For the first time ever in South America, reefer containers can go straight ‘from factory to farm’,” said Stig Hoffmeyer, Chief Executive Officer of MCI. “Offering the Star Cool Integrated reefers locally to shipping lines, farmers, fruit distributors and leasing companies, will have a financial benefit counted in thousands of dollars per reefer, and millions for the industry in total,” he continued.
Every year, more than 100,000 reefer containers are needed in Chile to cater for the large export. Including Colombia, Ecuador and Peru it amounts to approximately 300,000 reefer containers, predicts Seabury, the international shipping and transportation analyst. For many years, China has up until now been the only country with reefer container production.
“MCI is a strategic supplier for Maersk Line. The production of the Star Cool reefer containers out of Chile means that we can immediately employ them instead of an empty relocation trip. It will help us create new business opportunities in the West Coast of South America,” said Søren Toft, Chief Operations Officer of Maersk Line. For the local farmers, the close access to the Star Cool Integrated reefer technology opens up for broader market coverage and can become a catalyst for South American fresh produce exports. The Star Cool refrigeration machine is not only able to service cargo at refrigerated temperatures with the lowest energy consumption, the add-on service of the ‘Controlled Atmosphere’ system has also proven to carry fresh fruit and vegetables over extended distances, e.g. bananas, avocados, mango and asparagus.
“We’re looking forward to further applying our advanced refrigeration solutions to the very specific cargo needs of the local fruit industry. We are in this for the long term and our 1,000 employees are fully committed to ensure an ongoing world class production,” said Stig Hoffmeyer. “Our new MCI factory is a strategic USD 200m green field investment. In the coming years, we will gradually ramp up production to 25,000 reefer containers per year giving full priority to safety and quality. The factory is designed for a potential future sale of 40,000 reefers by 2020, all under one roof,” he continued.