Conventional Reefer Vessels Expect Further Decrease



  • 15 largest carriers operate 56% of the fleet in terms of capacity and the largest of these is Baltic Shipping/Cool Carrier with 11%.
  • As they operate large units, they account for 40% of the fleet and in 2018, Chiquita ordered 2,500 Star Cool integrated reefer containers.
  • Hapag-Lloyd placed an order for 11,100 reefer containers, whilst its alliance partner Ocean Network Express (ONE) signed a contract for 14,000 reefer containers.

According to Safety4Sea, the Conventional reefer vessels which have a traditional cargo operation with top opening hatches have lost ground. Down from some 55 % in 2000, the share of conventional carriers in the transport of refrigerated perishables has now decreased to 18%.

Reefer Analysis

According to Dynamar’s 2018 ‘REEFER Analysis – Market Structure, Conventional, Containers’. Yet, the total seaborne transport of fresh produce grew by 5% to 116 million tons in 2017, and containerized reefer traffic grew by 8%.

Although the fleet is small, 547 ships with 183.9 million cft capacity, the conventional reefer fleet has some barriers.

Dependence on container ships

However, the majority of fruit traders depend on container ships and only a part of their transport needs occur by conventional reefers.

Also, most container operators are involved in the transport of reefer boxes. On the contrary, a few have a network of services with specific equipment and capacity to be considered as a major reefer operator.

According to Dynamar, the top 10 reefer operators deploy an overall of 767 ships, with an aggregate 4.33 million TEU and 557,750 million reefer plugs, which are deployed in (North-South) relevant trades.

Because of the IMO’s 2020 sulphur cap regulations, Dynamar believes that many old conventional reefer vessels to be scrapped.

New developments

New developments in the reefer shipping segment in 2018 reveal a further swing towards investment in, and a preference for the reefer container segment, such as Maersk.

Moreover, at the end of 2018 the maritime container reefer box fleet globally, resulted in 2.9 million TEUs, although 2018’s production was expected to reach 130.000 TEU. Additionally, the 2019 production is expected to rise, but not much.

In 2018, the Maersk Container Industry closed its reefer factory in San Antonio, Chile after just three years. The closure of the $200 million production plant leaves it with only one facility in Qingdao, China.

Concluding, in 2017, 12 major container carriers operated 2.08 million TEU of owned and leased boxes, equal to 79% of the total reefer container fleet. In the meantime, at the end of 2018, lessors owned 49% of these.

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Source: Safety4Sea


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