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"Modal shift is a very sexy topic", said Natasha Solano, global business development manager of perishables logistics for Kuehne + Nagel. “But the press has taken the modal shift idea and blown it all out of proportion.” Shifts between air, ocean, road and rail modes is not something new and has happened many times over the years. “But it affects only certain commodities on certain lanes,” she said. Some commodities, she said, will always move by air, such as certain kinds of fresh fish, flowers and berries at varying times of year.
Recent increases in demand for edible commodities appear to show that the expected death of perishable (non-pharma) airfreight at the hands of ocean-based modal shift has been greatly exaggerated. Cheap, reliable seafreight will always hold a vastly larger market share on global cargo volumes. As Solano pointed out, 70 percent of fruit sent by K+N is via ocean, 23 percent is by road and just 3 percent is via air. Yet a deeper analysis suggests that the numbers are on the side of airfreight taking a larger bite out of ocean traffic, based on demographic, economic and marketing trends.
“By 2050, there will be 9 billion people on earth and demand for fresh food will be 60 percent more than it is today,” Solano said. “This is good news for both ocean and airfreight.”
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