The growth of the Port of Cartagena, as an enclave for horticultural imports and exports, is forcing operators to "adapt to the needs of fresh fruits and vegetables," stated José María Morote, managing director of Hortiberia, in a conference organised by Fruit Logística and the Port Authority, devoted to address the logistical challenges faced by the international traders of these products.

According to Morote, "The Region currently has large productions and we need operators to adapt their logistics services to the needs of perishable products." Moreover, if fruit and vegetable producers are already working to reach overseas destinations, "the logistics must also be adapted to this goal," he added.

The managing director of Hortiberia added that Cartagena, due to its geographical location, "can be a key port and a hub for long and short sea shipping routes for perishables." The fact is that, up to September 2016, the volume of perishable products in transit exceeded 100,000 tonnes, according to the data of the Port.

The various operators working in the export and import of fruits and vegetables stressed the good situation of the transport of these products in the Port of Cartagena.

"The growth may amount to about 8%. There is a very high quality in the markets and what there already was has consolidated. Most of the growth corresponds to imports, with an increase of about 30%," stressed Daniel Meca, manager of Daniel Gómez Servicios Portuarios, when talking about the improvements that have been achieved in the past year.

Meca highlighted the good work that has been done by the Port's management. "The Port Authority has been working flawlessly for a period of approximately 20 years."

To corroborate these assertions, Meca pointed out that, to determine the position that the Port occupies in Spain's ranking, you would need to differentiate between two categories: "on the one hand, the ranking of dry cargo and containers, where we are the eleventh port of Spain; however, in terms of bulk, both solid and liquid, we are the first."

Citrus trade stands out
Citrus fruits are still the main product marketed within the fruits and vegetables category in Cartagena. "Citrus fruits account for the largest volume, but there is also a significant growth in the trade of products such as cucumbers, carrots or lettuce," affirmed Meca.

"Products that didn't use to be exported in the past are now shipped by containers, and the market is also consolidating. The increase that has been observed is a high quality one," stressed the manager of Daniel Gómez Servicios Portuarios.

While citrus fruits dominate the exports, they are also the most important commodity when looking at the imports arriving at the Port. "When our Region does not have production, it imports from Argentinian and Uruguayan growers," explained Daniel Meca.

In this sense, the Association of Producers-Exporters of Fruits and Vegetables of the Region of Murcia insisted on the need for operators, working in the transport of goods in the port of Cartagena, to be able to adapt their logistics to the growth of long-distance exports; to destinations such as Asian or Latin American markets, which have increased their presence in port marketing in recent years.