Tank and Reefer

Brazilian reefer container handling grew almost 7% between Jan-Sept 2020

Nov, 13, 2020 Posted by Ruth Hollard

Week 202047

Brazilian exports in reefer containers grew 6.94% in the period from January to September 2020 compared to the same period last year, according to data consolidated by DataLiner. In the same period, Argentina registered a growth of 4.89% in exports via reefer containers and Uruguay, a decrease of 0.49%. Together with Brazil, Paraguay, Uruguay, and Argentina, the growth was 6%.

See the chart below for the history of month-to-month exports via reefer container through Brazil and Plate (Paraguay, Uruguay, and Argentina):

Exports of Reefer Containers from Brazil and Plate | Jan 2017 to Sep 2020 | TEU

Source: DataLiner

Exports of animal protein – mainly to China, heated up the reefer market. China – which saw its pork supply drop to its lowest levels with the African swine flu that decimated the country’s pig farms – was the main destination for exports via reefer containers from Brazil and Plate, with 164,189 TEU exported during the period, followed by Holland, importing 46,560 TEU.

Check the chart below for the top 15 export destinations via ECSA reefer in the first nine months of 2020:

Top 15 Destinations for ECSA Reefer Containers | Jan to Sept 2020 | TEU

Source: DataLiner

Regarding the main products exported via reefer, fresh, chilled, or frozen chicken meat was the most exported product from January to September 2020, with 241,072.81 TEU exported, a decrease of 1% in relation to the same period in 2019, according to DataLiner data. The second-most-imported product is frozen beef, with 132,087 TEU, an increase of 12%. The biggest highlight, however, was the growth in exports of fresh, chilled, or frozen pork, with an increase of 57% in relation to January to September 2019, with 46,620.03 TEU.

Imbalance of Imports vs. Exports

The growth in exports via reefer containers and the fall in imports due to the weakened economy caused by the coronavirus and the high price of the dollar caused an imbalance in the availability of containers in general, as can be seen in the chart below:

Trade Imbalance Brazil | Jan 2010 to Sep 2020 | TEU

Source: DataLiner (To request a DataLiner demo click here)

Regarding reefer containers, the situation was the same. So much so that in order to supply part of this problem, in June, the Port Complex of Itajaí received the largest full container ship to dock in Brazilian ports, the APL Paris, loaded with reefer containers to supply the market. The ship is 347.40 meters long and 45.2 meters wide (beam), with a capacity to transport up to 10,798 TEU, and belongs to CMA CGM. APL Paris had a unique docking in Latin America, at the Portonave terminal and had the function of repositioning to meet the regional need for reefer containers.

The lack of reefer also caused a strong retraction in the purchase of Brazilian meat by the Arab countries in 2020. After its imports grew by 200% in the last ten years, beef shipments fell by almost 30% in the first nine months of the year compared to the same period last year. In the meantime, chicken shipments shrank 18.5%. Not that the Arabs lost their appetites nor reduced their demand: orders collapsed because of global logistics disrupted by the pandemic and China’s enormous purchasing power.

“We are in an atypical year. The pandemic greatly impacted exports and economic relations did not go as we expected,” says Tamer Mansour, Secretary-General at the Arab-Brazilian Chamber of Commerce (CCAB). In addition to the lack of refrigerated containers in the global market, the Chinese grabbed a bigger slice of Brazilian meat. “It was a commercial and competition issue,” says Mansour.

Since Brazil imports fewer products from the Arab market, the ships return empty, adding costs to those already inflated by the chaotic logistics imposed by the pandemic. While refrigerated vessels were unavailable for transporting meat, containers for this type of cargo were left in the port of Shanghai.

To try to alleviate this problem, some solutions adopted are NOR (non-operating reefer) and the import of empty containers, among others. This year, DataLiner launched a new function with NOR load data.

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