Merlog Foods joins the debate on trade protectionism at African perishable logistics forum

Food and Drink, Logistics, Markets, Ports & Terminals, Reefer Containers, Reefer ships — By on January 27, 2014 at 2:34 PM
Cool logistics africaAfrican food distributor joins other perishable importers and exporters set to voice concerns about trade barriers at Cool Logistics Africa 2014 forum in March

London,  27.01.2014 – Trade barriers, non-tariff based trade impediments and other vested interests are threatening to destabilise the delicate economic balance in South Africa as well as derail any prospects for regional economic recovery. This will be a major topic of debate at the upcoming Cool Logistics Africa conference in Cape Town,  March 4-6, with a growing list of perishable importers and exporters ready to ‘stand up and be counted’ on the rising threats to their businesses.

Georg Southey, General Manager at Merlog Foods Pty Ltd, is the latest perishables player to join the debate. Established in 1994, today the company is one of the largest food distributors and wholesalers in South Africa and neighbouring countries. Merlog’s main focus is on frozen meat and chicken, along with a range of frozen vegetables, processed meats, French fries and other potato products. Some of these products are currently being imported, especially poultry, which has become a serious ‘bone of contention’ between indigenous South African producers and the Association of Meat Importers and Exporters of South Africa.

At Cool Logistics Africa, Mr Southey will make the case for liberalising poultry imports into South Africa. Other speakers also set to discuss the impact of trade barriers will include Deon Joubert, General Manager Fruit Logistics at Capespan, who has just been appointed to head up the Citrus Growers Association of Southern Africa (CGSA) efforts in Brussels to prevent the current EU ban on South African citrus from being extended into the next season. European producers claim that citrus black spot (CBS) could infect European production.

Meanwhile, ocean carriers are becoming aware that it may also be in their interest to ensure that trade disputes are being diffused or resolved in order to bring on the much needed general economic recovery.

“South Africa exports 40 percent of its citrus to Europe”, says Iain McIntosh, General Manager Sales, atMitsui OSK, noting that if South African citrus were banned this would create a big hole both for the South African economy and for European fruit consumption. “Where would the Europeans source citrus from during the summer?” he asks.

Mr McIntosh will also give a presentation on protectionism, trade intervention and shipping at the 3rdannual pan-African conference, where he will be joined by representatives from other container and specialised reefer shipping lines including CMA-CGM,  Safmarine,  Star Reefers and more.

“Given the social dimension of employment offered by the agricultural sector in Africa as a whole, trade between African countries, including perishables, should be given more priority in the future, ” argues Alex von Stempel, Managing Director Cool Logistics Resources. “It is high time that Africa embraces the prospects of Intra-African perishable trades.” This will be another major talking point at the 2014 conference.

This year’s Cool Logistics Africa conference will break new ground to include sessions dedicated to overland road and rail transport, airfreight, port infrastructure and the relationship between agriculture and logistics, with involvement from companies such as Durabilis,  Arla Foods and Dole South Africa.

Cool Logistics Africa returns to Cape Town for the 3rd year in 2014 under the headline theme “Integrating global and regional perishable supply chains.” The event 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 atwww.coollogisticsafrica.com

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