The doors of the Berlin Exhibition Center are closed, and the 2,610 exhibitors have removed their stands. The 30th fruit trade exhibition, held 08-10FEB23, was not only a feast for the eyes because of the many tasty products on display, but also a firework of inspiration and new ideas. Those who missed the show had been ill-advised not to come.
For example, panelists presented intriguing concepts on how to make the cold chain from field to consumer more sustainable. Others showcased concepts to overcome the fragmentation of the
logistics chain by improving communication and intensifying interaction using data sharing models. Another key topic was the role governmental regulatory measures play in reducing greenhouse gas
emissions. This was strongly supported by shipping giant, Maersk, who welcomed a binding framework aimed at collectively driving greenhouse gas emissions down and at a faster velocity. Or the
benefits offered by combining sea and air solutions as increasingly promoted by companies such as Maersk, MSC, Kuehne+Nagel, and others who recently took to tapping into air freight.
The new boring
At the beginning of the logistics sessions, there was a collective sigh of relief probably heard even in the neighboring hall. It was triggered by remarks from Reefer Analyst, Philip Gray, who provoked by stating: “We are in a new boring. And I tell you what: boring is good!” The expert was referring to reefer volume, down 8% since 01JAN23, compared to last year, and ocean freight container production, down 25%. The industry needs stability following the crazy ups and downs of the past two or three years, and things are returning to greater balance as latest trade figures show, he stated. This trend of levelling out the peaks and lows should put an end to the skyrocketing profits made by shipping companies, benefitting freight forwarders and cargo airlines alike. We are on the road to normality. “So, normality is becoming the new normal,” Gray exclaimed.
Integration through cooperation
This was acclaimed by Jannie Davel, helmsman of MSC Air Cargo. He sees his company on the way to becoming a multimodal service provider by managing its own assets, predominantly vessels and aircraft, and laying additional activities in the hand of trusted partners such as trucking companies, handling agents, terminal and warehouse operators, ground handling agents or independent ULD managers. Hence, MSC sets the tone for becoming a different kind of integrator by blending own services with those of third-party providers. “Air and sea are two different animals but they don’t cannibalize each other. It’s all about cooperation,” he exclaimed. Presumably, Maersk and CMA CGM agree.
However, in addition to much encouraging news and many positive developments in the fresh produce logistics sector (the numerous efforts to lower greenhouse gas emissions being one example), the problems the industry is facing were also clearly identified at the Berlin trade show. Problems such as
- the ongoing disruption of intercontinental supply chains caused by Russia's ongoing war on Ukraine,
- global inflation that is significantly lowering consumer spending,
- sharp increases in raw material and energy costs that have made products more expensive,
- and last, but not least, the worsening shortage of truck drivers or handlers at ports and airports.
Too much fresh produce still gets spoiled
And another scandalous shortcoming was repeatedly mentioned by panelists: On average, 30% of all fresh produce still spoils before it reaches the consumer's table. This is an enormous waste of food, and all participants in the logistics chain must act responsibly to stop it, industry representatives repeatedly emphasized. The consensus at Fruit Logistica was that this could only be achieved through intensified cooperation, open data exchange, and targeted staff training. However, speakers pointed out that the wastage takes place in the private households of consumer. Once the expiration date has passed, fruit and vegetables often end up in the garbage can even though they are still edible. Therefore, it also requires increased awareness of private consumers to avoid fresh product waste, is the message from Berlin.
The next Fruit Logistica, number 31, will take place 07-09FEB24, once again in the halls of organizer, Messe Berlin.
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