While world trade is being hampered by a scarcity of dry and reefer containers, Marfret has been able to avoid the turbulence affecting the shipping industry. For a number of years, Marfret’s logistics department has continued to order containers in order to keep up with demand and provide recent equipment. In fact a new order of 240 40-foot high cube containers is currently under way, with delivery due this spring.
Containers in stock at Marfret and available to exporters and forwarders: such a rare thing in these times deserves to be trumpeted!
The disorganisation and scarcity of capacity worldwide began in December 2019. At the time, China was massively importing pork, which was upsetting the balance in refrigerated container traffics. When the pandemic broke out, thousands of empty reefer containers ended up being blocked at Shanghai’s terminals for many weeks. The problem rapidly spread to the dry fleet: by reducing workforce availability, the Covid-19 virus caused a slowdown along the entire supply chain, with containers being stranded in Europe and especially the United States, resulting in a shortage of containers for export cargo in Asia.
“Each year since 2017, we have been expanding our fleet. In 2020, we added another 550 new reefer containers and we are continuing to invest in the future. We have both standard and special containers. Marfret is not affected by the current situation since we are not in the Asian market and we operate in a closed circuit, which means the fleet does not become dispersed,” explains Marfret’s managing director Guillaume Vidil.
It’s a difficult period from which the company has managed to profit by attracting new customers. “It was down to forward planning. Thanks to our good relations with the leasing companies, 40’ high cube containers in production were channelled to the Mediterranean. We increased our fleet of 40’ high cube dry containers by 10%,” says Gilles Gallinaro, head of the logistics department at Marfret.
A highly sought-after commodity at the moment, 40’ HCs provide an increased load capacity of between 10 and 15% over standard containers due to their extra 30cm in height. “Rotation frequency for boxes in Europe and the Mediterranean needs to be increased,” adds Gallinaro, who relies on around a hundred depots worldwide, both in ports and at inland terminals, for receiving returned containers and getting them back out to customers as quickly as possible.