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Time to get out of specialist reefer shipping?

HAMBURG: September 19, 2016. Hapag-Lloyd has ordered 5,000 40ft and 750 20ft reefer containers for delivery beginning in October. The shipping line says 1,000 are equipped with controlled atmosphere technology for managing perishable shipments.

The move confirms a forecast by Drewry Maritime Research that suggests the decline in the share of the maritime reefer market by specialist carriers is "inevitable".

Hapag reefersAccording to the Drewry report, specialized reefers last year provided five percent of the world's capacity but carried over 23 percent of the cargo. "The specialised mode's USP of a Fast, Direct and Dedicated (FDD) service appeals to many industry segments and will ensure that its disproportionate cargo-to-tonnage share will continue," it said.

As of mid-2016 Drewry says the total reefer capacity of specialist carriers was 231.9 million cu. ft. compared to 4.2. billion cu. ft. on container ships.

With an average age of 26 and little newbuilding with the exception of Seatrade, the specialised reefers are over twice the age of their containership counterparts that have an order book of over 400 vessels.

Drewry concludes that the decline is not a question of "if", but "when".

Meanwhile the new Hapag-Lloyd reefer order coincides with the delivery of five new 10,500 TEU vessels currently under construction in South Korea and scheduled to enter service between South America and Europe in late 2016. Each of the ships has a reefer capacity of over 2,100 TEUs.

Together with cooling-technology specialist Carrier Transicold, the company says it is testing refrigeration equipment that replaces chemicals with carbon dioxide.

"Hapag-Lloyd is one of the world's biggest suppliers in the reefer segment and numbers among the market leaders in South America," said Anthony Firmin, Hapag-Lloyd COO.
"With the newly ordered reefers, we will be able to continue offering state-of- the-art equipment to our customers while at the same time optimizing the efficiency of our container fleet."

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