Major shipping lines like Hapag-Lloyd have taken heed and last April announced an order for five new 10,500-TEU (twenty-foot-equivalent unit) ships with each vessel able to handle 2,100 temperature-controlled containers. In August, the line ordered 6,000 refrigerated containers (12,000 TEUs) to take advantage of the high-volume of reefer cargo on South American trade lanes.
Not to be outdone, United Arab Shipping Company ordered 3,500 reefer containers and CN Rail, the Canadian railway company that connects with ports on the U.S. Gulf Coast, has purchased 200 40-foot EcoTherm containers, bringing its fleet to nearly 500.
A further boost for the import of refrigerated products is the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s cold treatment program. The pilot project allows cold-treated produce to now enter a number of southern U.S. ports where previously it had to pass through northeastern ports and then be trucked south. Products coming in under the program are grapes, blueberries, apples, pears and citrus from such countries as Peru, Uruguay and Argentina.
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