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A delegation from the Citrus Growers’ Association of Southern Africa (CGA) recently visited the specialised reefer ship, MV Cool Eagle. The ship docked at the Durban port. Chartered by the Reefer Alliance, the MV Cool Eagle is one of a series of five ships that are the largest specialised reefer vessels in the world.

This is the first time one of these new generation reefer ships has visited South Africa. It is truly a historic moment for the citrus industry and the country at large.

Meeting greater demand

MV Cool Eagle arrived to meet the increasing export demand of South Africa’s (SA) citrus produce. Citrus growers are expected to export a record-breaking 163 million cartons of citrus during the 2021 export season.

MV Cool Eagle was built to carry roughly 6 000 high-cube pallets of citrus in 342 reefer containers on deck, with 7 200 high-cube pallets below deck. This equates to 1,2 million cartons of citrus. The citrus will be transported to other export markets from Rotterdam, the Netherlands and from St Petersburg in Russia. 

Why reefers ships are special

Unlike container ships that transport individual refrigerated containers, specialised reefer ships have insulated holds that can be adjusted according to the types of cargo being shipped. Recently, the World Bank released a report, which found that SA’s container terminals are the most inefficient when compared to close to 400 terminals across the world.

These inefficiencies have resulted in container ships taking two-thirds longer to clear our country’s ports than reefer vessels. Reefer vessels typically arrive at export markets in Europe a week or two ahead of container vessels. These reefer ships therefore guarantee better quality fruit reaching key markets. 

Further growth expected

Citrus exports are expected to grow by a further 500 000 tons over the next three to five years. It is therefore critical that the entire logistics chain is able to support this growth. Last year’s export season saw a 33% increase in citrus shipments on specialised reefer vessels. With this year’s export season kicking off with a visit from MV Cool Eagle, it will be followed closely by her sister ship, MV Cool Spirit. – Press release, Citrus Growers Association

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