Citrus, trade and protectionism set to dominate debate at 3rd Cool Logstics Africa

Markets, Reefer Containers, Reefer ships — By on January 13, 2014 at 3:26 PM
Cool logistics africaCitrus Research International and Freshfel to assess the impact of citrus black spot developments on Africa’s perishables trade and logistics at Cool Logistics Africa 2014 this March

London, 13.01.2014 - Vaughan Hattingh, CEO of Citrus Research International (CRI), the fruit research body funded by the Citrus Growers Association of Southern Africa, will share a panel with Philippe Binard, Delegate General for European fresh produce association Freshfel, at the upcoming 3rd Cool Logistics Africa  conference, taking place 4-6 March in Cape Town, South Africa.

Against a background of growing uncertainty about the 2014 South African citrus export season, the two speakers will present their views in a session on 6 March about how citrus black spot (CBS) should be managed at the start of next citrus season. The situation has been aggravated by delays in the risk assessment process between different scientific opinions.

Labelled as a major trade dispute between two of the world’s largest citrus exporters – Spain and South Africa – over how CBS is transmitted, the European Commission is expected to pronounce soon on whether the EU ban on South African citrus affected by CBS could be extended to the next citrus season. European producers are concerned that their orchards may become infected by CBS.

The impact of a possible citrus ban could be considerable, not only on the South African economy but also in terms of the ramifications for major trade deals between the EU and other Sub-Saharan African countries.

“The final scientific report by the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) is expected to be ready by the end of this month, a month later than expected, due to a last minute barrage of comments and opinions on the different possible ‘vectors of transmission’ of CBS,” according to Mr. Binard. 

While South Africa maintains that there is no danger of the disease being transmitted once the fruit is picked, European opinion is divided over whether transmission of CBS occurs from ‘plant to plant’ or ‘fruit to plant.’

“If the latter is found to be true, the implications for the perishable trade and supply chain could be significant,” said Alex von Stempel, Managing Director of Cool Logistics Resources.

The Europeans maintain that other countries, such as Argentina, have been more effective than South Africa at tackling CBS. South Africans point out that the much larger South African production should be taken into account and that significant progress has been made to ensure that SA citrus exports could be limited to ‘CBS-free’ growing areas.  South Africa currently exports around 600,000 tonnes of citrus to Europe every year, valued at €1 billion.

It is unclear if and how volumes of citrus from the African continent will be affected in 2014, but it is understood that major ocean carriers would take a ‘rather dim view’ of the problem if it is not resolved soon. Ocean carriers are likely to seek new citrus shipping opportunities in countries such as India, for example, if South African volumes continue to decline for a second consecutive year.

With increasing protectionist accusations being levelled not only between Europe and South Africa, but also between Western Europe and Russia, North and South America, and others, it is not surprising that the container shipping sector sees protectionism as one of the greatest possible enemies of trade.

If any central theme is likely to arise from the 3rd Cool Logistics Africa conference it could well be this topic that will dominate the whole conference, from the opening presentation by John Purchase, Chief Executive Officer of Agbiz, South Africa’s Agricultural Business Chamber, on the changing role of Africa as part of the global food economy, to the presentation from Iain McIntosh of MOL, the venerable Japanese shipping major celebrating its 130th anniversary this April, on whether protectionism, trade intervention and shipping could constitute a dangerous mixture.

The conference will also cover infrastructure issues and feature presentations by Tau Morwe, Chief Executive of Transnet National Ports Authority (TNPA), Victor Shieh, Editor-in-chief of Port Overview Africa, Sanjeev Ghadia, CEO of Kenyan air carrier Astral Aviation and different African perishable shipper and logistics views from Ethiopia to Kenya and Nigeria.

The latest addition to the programme includes a European shipper, with Ole Mortensen, Category Manager Transport and Logistics for Arla Foods in Denmark joining one of the opening panels for the first time this year. Arla Foods is a leading diary producer/exporter well-known for brands such as Lurpak, Anchor butter and Cravendale. The company intends to double its exports to South Africa and the Middle East in the foreseeable future.

Under the theme “integrating global and regional perishable supply chains”, the pan-African conference will bring together regional and international members of the perishable supply chain to discuss the challenges and their solutions. Key topics under debate during the 3-day event will include how exporters and importers can capitalise on the growth opportunities of Africa perishables trade; the outlook for maritime and air transport; port and hinterland cold chain infrastructure; and how to bridge the gap between agriculture and logistics

Returning to Cape Town for the 3rd year, Cool Logistics Africa 2014 includes a 2-day business conference and 1-day practical workshop on technical and operations issues. The full programme and list of participating speakers and delegate companies can be viewed at http://www.coollogisticsafrica.com/

 

3rd Cool Logistics Africa

4th – 6th March 2014

Vineyard Hotel and Spa, Cape Town

South Africa

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