Cool! While the share of sea freight transported in containers is barely increasing overall, the reefer segment is experiencing significant growth at this time. So much so that experts fear capacity bottlenecks looming. Photo: Johannes Kroemer

Containerization of ocean freight is considered the biggest revolution in transport in the 20th century. It is also thought to be largely completed. Yet on closer inspection we can see that at least in the reefer segment, containerization is once again receiving a fresh boost. For example, a major banana producer just recently switched its deliveries from Latin America to Europe completely to container ships, and conventional reefer vessels are no longer used on this route. Thanks to the greater capacity available on container ships, transportation of perishable goods requires less energy, and CO2 emissions are reduced accordingly.


The subject of pollutants is likely to have given containerization in the reefer sector renewed impetus. For instance, current legislation initiated by the International Maritime Organization (IMO) calls for a reduction of sulfur in bunker fuel from 3.5 to 0.5 percent from 2020 onwards. Because this will result in much higher fuel costs, not least for conventional reefer ships, experts anticipate that many of these ships will be scrapped – with more cargo being switched to reefer containers as a consequence.


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