The delays of up to three days suffered by MSC ships on their return from Africa are forcing fruit and vegetable exporters from Las Palmas to hire trucks in order to ship tomatoes and cucumbers from the islands to the Netherlands and the United Kingdom. The previous campaign was the first one in which the use of chartered boats was abandoned and MSC regular lines were chosen in order to cut costs. As a result, 30% of the fruit had to leave by truck so that it could reach its destination in good condition.
The tomatoes and cucumbers arrive in the United Kingdom in 4.5 days, while reaching the Netherlands takes one more day; the same amount of time as the regular MSC line, but with double the cost. The trucks travel by boat to Huelva and once in the Peninsula they continue by road until they reach the destination. The service works perfectly, but the cost doubles that of the regular line, according to Fedex spokesperson Gustavo Rodríguez.
"Based on prices, the best option is the regular MSC line, without a doubt, but sometimes there is too much of a delay and the fruit cannot wait, which means that you have to hire trucks. It is preferable to pay more than to lose the fruit," says Rodriguez.
According to his estimations, a container in a regular line has a cost of 3.000 Euro when shipped to the Netherlands and of 3,500 when shipped to the United Kingdom. Bearing in mind that the transport compensation amounts to around 1,382 Euro, exporters pay 1,500 to 2,100 Euro per TEU, depending on the destination.
If the fruit goes by truck, the cost of a container is 5,200 Euro when shipped to the Netherlands and 6,000 Euro when shipped to the United Kingdom. In this case, the subsidy amounts to around 2,000 Euro, which yields a price for the exporter of 3,200 and 4,000 Euro, respectively.
"We could say that a chartered boat, which we no longer use because it is very expensive, is like a taxi, while the MSC regular line works like a bus, with its schedules, and the truck is like a TNC service," he says.