Launched during the fourth quarter of 2022, Marfret’s new Italy Egypt Express (IEX) regular container service has proved to be popular, with load factors increasing with each sailing of the container ship Sunaid X.
Departing from the Italian ports of Genoa in the north and Salerno in the south, the new container service calls at Alexandria Old Port in Egypt every nine days. The 700 TEU-capacity container ship Sunaid X, fitted with around a hundred reefer plugs, made its first commercial crossing in November, 2022. It was a timely decision, with freight rates returning to acceptable levels in a context of intensification and a boosting of economic ties between Italy and Egypt over the past two years, with a view to forging a real industrial and trading partnership. Even if the existing service offer between the northern and southern shores of the Mediterranean is obviously abundant, Marfret stands out, in particular in the temperature-controlled produce sector.
“We are the only ones with a dedicated, direct service for containerized perishables. Since the launch of this fast and direct service, the numbers have continued to increase. We are really pleased with the feedback we’re getting form our clients. We have invested heavily, with 200 new reefer containers going to Egypt,” says Marfret managing director Guillaume Vidil.
Egyptian exporters were quick to sign up for the Italy Egypt Express (IEX) service, with their shipments of fruits and vegetables including artichokes, onions, grapes and citrus fruits. The destination is mainly the Italian mainland, with some of the produce being sent onwards to markets in Central Europe via Salerno, which is a major fruit and vegetable distribution centre.
Successful launch at Food Africa 2022 in Cairo
Trade between Italy and Egypt totals $1.8bn, with exports from Italy -Egypt’s main European trading partner- consisting mainly of leather, marble, construction materials and textiles. As a specialist in North-South services, Marfret finds the same markers in Egypt, with the Suez Canal, as it does in Colombia, another major agricultural producer, located close to the Panama Canal and a hub for distribution to the Caribbean zone.
In order to boost the line’s visibility within the market, Marfret has expanded its sales network with help from its Italian agent AEM and Pan Marine, a ship’s agent with offices in the main Egyptian ports. “A large number were set up in both countries to present the service to forwarders and shippers. Egypt is a trade hub for the Middle East, with relatively balanced trade volumes with Europe,” adds Guillaume Vidil.
The new Italy Egypt Express line was presented at Food Africa, the agri-food industry international trade show which took place in Cairo from 5th to 7th December 2022, with, Marfret and Pan Marine’s stand attracting a lot of attention. Traditionally present as an intra-Mediterranean line operator, Marfret new service comes at a time when manufacturers are contemplating relocating their production capacity from China to regional areas, not just for reasons of transit time and cost but also for transport reduction and environmental considerations.