Freshfel Europe exchange on sustainable and reliable logistics infrastructure for fresh produce

Global logistics is expected to turn a corner in 2023 with the increased availability of containers and ships and some easing of the bottlenecks and delays that have been prominent during the past years. For the fresh produce sector, however, there is still a need for the optimization of transport networks. On 18 January, Freshfel Europe organized a webinar on the topic of logistics in Europe and beyond. With guest speakers from the World Shipping Council, Freshrail, and Easyfresh logistics, Freshfel Europe and its members highlighted the need for affordable and reliable, well-connected multimodal transport networks while emphasizing sustainable solutions to continue the journey towards decarbonization.

Every year, close to 50 million tonnes of fresh fruit and vegetables are distributed locally within the Member State of the European Union where it was grown, while 29 million tonnes are traded intra-EU. Furthermore, the EU exports around 7 million tonnes of fresh fruits and vegetables annually and imports almost double. Logistics must be timely and well-connected to ensure that all these products arrive fresh and of good quality.

To guarantee a wide distribution of fresh fruits and vegetables, transport networks and reefer/container availability must be well-functioning on all levels: locally, nationally, regionally, and globally. The meeting highlighted that it is important that public and private sectors support and invest in multimodal transport networks and sustainable and affordable logistics solutions for fresh produce to reach their destinations in a timely manner with optimal quality.

Between 2020 and 2022, the demand for global logistics had its operational normality disrupted. First, by lockdowns and increased controls, then by a booming demand during post-COVID-19, which created a 0 % idle shipping fleet, an increase of 7,5% in port and hinterland congestion, and a 25% backlog on orders of new vessels. Inflation, lack of truck drivers and other logistics talents, along with rising fuel prices, have caused cost increases for fresh fruit and vegetable logistics. Freshfel Europe General Delegate Philippe Binard stated, “Higher logistics costs due to the scarcity of containers and trucks and higher fuel costs impact the affordability of logistics, leading to missed trade opportunities. Covering these added costs is challenging for the sector, which is working with small margins and exposed to the high financial pressures of last year. This will still be noticeable for some time to come. For 2023 however, global logistics seem to be turning a corner with fewer logistical bottlenecks, leading to a better outlook for the sector to seize opportunities in the market”.

For more information:
Freshfel Europe
The European Fresh Produce Association 
Rue de Trèves 49-51, box 8
1040 Brussels – Belgium
Tel.: +32 (0)2 777.15.80
Fax: +32 (0)2 777.15.81

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