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Sjaak Melissant: "We offer the total package"

WEC Lines takes first steps into fresh produce market

With the commissioning of some 50 45 ft reefer containers, shortsea shipping company WEC Lines entered the reefer container market for the first time this year. "The focus within our company has always been on dry cargo including supermarket-related products, as well as heavy cargoes such as coffee beans and tea. But with this new service, we can also provide the fresh produce sector with our logistics services," says Sjaak Melissant.

For the general manager who previously worked at Visbeen Transport and Coolboxx, returning to the fresh produce sector feels like coming home. "For instance, I really missed the Fruit Logistica in recent years. I'm looking forward to doing my bit there again on behalf of WEC Lines."

"WEC Lines started 50 years back and originally really focused on East Africa. In recent years, the focus has broadened to the Mediterranean region, adding Portugal, Spain, the Canary Islands and Morocco, among others, as important destinations," Sjaak explains. "For example, we offer fresh produce importers a direct service between Agadir with Portugal, Spain and the UK. This service offers further connections to the Netherlands, France and Belgium through which Moroccan tomatoes and mandarins, among others, find their way to European supermarkets. In doing so, we work intermodally, for example, we also have a rail connection to Poland, among others, and barge connections to Germany in Moerdijk."

"Although the temperature-controlled transport market is new to WEC Lines, we do have a lot of knowledge of reefers internally. The advantage is that we can now offer our customers a wider range. Until recently, customers needed reefers during certain periods of the year, but they could not book them with us. We can now provide that. The new 45ft reefer containers are all equipped with a state-of-the-art (electric) refrigeration system to accurately maintain the temperature within a range of -30ºC to +30ºC, ensuring the integrity of temperature-sensitive or perishable cargo throughout the transportation process. We wanted to be thorough and put a lot of effort into track-and-trace right away. After all, you often only get one chance to prove yourself, and you have to make good use of it," says Sjaak. Meanwhile, WEC Lines already has a second set of reefers on order thanks to high demand from its customers.

WEC Lines' fleet consists of some 14 vessels, 11 of which are owned, and supplemented by three fixed charters. "With these, we serve all ports from Morocco to the Canary Islands. We recently added the Bilbao - Dublin - Liverpool service to our regular shipping routes," Sjaak says. For transport to East Africa, WEC Lines 'hitch-hikes' on the regular services of parent organization MSC with its own WEC containers on board. "With our own ships, our own containers, and local representations in no less than 17 countries, we have everything in-house to unburden customers. For example, we also have offices in Egypt and Kenya, where I see a lot of potential in reefer transport for floriculture, among other things."

"We come from a difficult market, because volumes are somewhat lower everywhere. The costs in the market have risen considerably, only the transport price has not actually risen along with it and rather declined somewhat. But we are now seeing positive signs that the market is picking up. For instance, refrigerated transport from England to Spain has been going well from the start. When it comes to refrigerated transport to the Netherlands, it remains pioneering for us. After all, we have a lot of competition from road transport and those prices go in all directions during the year. As an intermodal provider, we use a year-round price, which is much more constant; in some periods, this is less interesting in terms of costs. Nevertheless, I am convinced that with these stable routes we offer a nice alternative to road transport," Sjaak says.

For more information:
Sjaak Melissant
WEC Lines
Tel: +31 10 4 913 306
[email protected]

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