Morrisons, Marks & Spencer and The Food & Drink Federation have all publicly commented on the serious supply chain crisis which is threatening the nation. As a leading industry player and provider of world class logistics and supply chain solutions, PML forecast the current scenario and its dire consequences almost 12 months ago.
We are facing these issues on a daily basis.
The HGV driver shortage is paralysing the industry. More needs to be done to support the wellbeing of these important individuals who represent the lifeline to maintaining essential food & drink as well as medical supplies to the UK.
Logistics firms are being hammered with a new ‘driver retention fee’ in addition to the traditional sea freight container charges, which can be as much as £150 per container. This kind of exploitation is only adding to what is already a difficult situation and forcing firms to review their charges to the end customer to allow for these demands.
The government has supposedly prepared importers of perishables so that they are capable of undertaking the complicated paperwork associated with customs clearance post Brexit. It is bordering on ignorance to assume that anyone can navigate their way through the system with no previous experience of this specialist sector. It takes years of training for an import clerk to be up to speed with the detailed and ever changing requirements imposed by DEFRA – including not just the stringent import regulations but also the approval required to collect goods from a transit shed – yet the inference is, that this is just a ‘basic job’ that anyone can turn their hand to. Pointing importers to the government website to help them understand the requirements is just not going to cut it.
I’m afraid I don’t concur with the Prime Minister’s recent assurance that there is no impending crisis regarding food supplies. Sadly, I predict quite the opposite and envisage that by January 2022 nothing short of chaos will reign. The reality is that our industry is more affected by the pandemic now than we were last year, due to the ‘pingdemic’; the growing number of Covid cases requiring personnel to isolate for 10 days and the reluctance of many of our European drivers to be vaccinated.
Combine the HGV driver shortage, the customs clearance issues and the impact of the pandemic and it is plain to see that the country is destined to be facing some very challenging conditions. Surely the government should have seen some of this coming and prepared for these problems? The approach taken by the powers that be seems to be very much reactive rather than proactive – if I ran my business in this way, we would have gone bust.
The latest news is that Britain is poised to delay additional post-Brexit customs checks due to come into force on 1st October,
for the second time amid concerns they could fuel further disruption in the run-up to Christmas.
The fact is, there should be a long-term strategy in place to deal with all of these concerns. Not just for Christmas but in the years ahead …
Shipping fresh produce is a fast-paced industry because of the effort required to make deliveries within a short timeframe. Perishables are time and temperature sensitive products that require careful handling and shipment processes to preserve their freshness.
This supply chain journeys from farmers to packaging and shipping companies, then to wholesalers or retailers, and finally to the end consumer. The supply chain can be surprisingly long if you don’t buy local, and the goods still need to be fresh, despite the lengthy shipping process.
Here’s PML’s top 10 tips for companies to consider when shipping fresh produce.
Safety of produce in transit.
Although the concept of transporting produce looks simple on the face of it, there are many complications. Billions of pounds are lost due to food spoiling during the transportation process. Up to 33% of food can be lost or wasted and fresh produce can lose half of its shelf life in the shipping process.
Produce is sensitive freight due to individual shelf life timelines and the fragility of the items. When dealing with produce and other food items intended for consumption, there is no wiggle room when it comes to safety. Vehicles transporting food are required to adhere to strict standards, the goal being to prevent illness due to contaminated food. Vehicles must be clean and be able to be cleaned to prevent contamination plus produce must be kept at safe temperatures during transportation.
2. The importance of produce temperature
Timing and temperature are the crucial factors when handling fresh produce because it deteriorates with time, depending on the temperature of storage.
Most refrigerated, chilled and fresh produce is stored and transported at temperatures between -1.5 and +14 degrees Celsius, varying on product type. However, transport can be trickier for perishables such as flowers, fruit and vegetables and some countries may not accept frozen goods that have been off refrigeration for more than a specified time, regardless of temperatures achieved. That can result in wasted time, effort and ultimately, the loss of the produce. In all these cases, failure to meet requirements means a total commercial failure unless the goods can be diverted to a different destination where they will be accepted.
3. Produce Shelf Life
Not all produce is the same when it comes to shipping. The industry deems sensitive produce, with a short shelf life of a day or two, as light density. Next, produce that lasts 4 to 6 days is medium density. The heartier produce crops, those with a long shelf life in excess of a week, rank in the high-density category.
The logistics company selected to transport produce needs to know from the shipper exactly what the freight includes to ensure correct handling and timings.
Shippers are working against the clock to get produce to market so consumers can enjoy the goods at the peak of their freshness. The strict shelf life of produce is why shippers often prefer a dedicated trucking solution to ensure delivery. The longer it takes to get produce shipped after harvest, the higher the chances items will spoil before reaching the shelf.
4. Lifestyle trends
As shoppers select produce at their retailer, few are thinking about the industry and what it takes to ship fresh.
Consumers adopting healthier lifestyles often choose fresh produce. The trend at the moment is that freshness translates to healthy and the niche market of organic and plant-based foods is growing fast.T he push to find healthier food has translated into more produce shipments needing to be available to stay in step with the increasing demand.
5. Where the Produce Comes From
What fruit or vegetable crop is growing when and where is always a big question for those dealing with produce. The answer to that question determines what can ship when or how much stock is available. Shippers generally have a good handle on what crops are harvesting in which countries in order to keep supply moving into stores.
But for shippers, the bigger question to answer is how fast a crop of fresh produce can get from the field to market. There is often a very short window of time to make it happen.
Seasonal demands factor into shipment capacity, especially if a crop schedule is off by a few days or weeks. In most cases, a dedicated shipper will have flexibility to get everything done in time. However, this is not a guarantee, so shippers should not take it for granted. Good communication between the shipper and trucking company is a good way to gauge what is possible when things change.
Another challenge in shipping fresh produce is the distance from the point of origin to the final destination. According to the Logistics Bureau, fresh produce averages about half its shelf life on a truck. Therefore, produce with a short shelf life only has around a day of freshness remaining once it reaches the market. If all things are perfect, this is not a lot of time for consumers to maximise the freshness. However, it drives the point home about the urgency needed when it comes to shipping fresh produce.
6. The Demand for Fresh Produce
So where do consumers purchase fresh produce? The answer to that question includes grocery stores, fresh markets, specialty markets and the growing trend of meal kit services. Shoppers are particular about where they purchase their fresh fruits and vegetables. While supermarkets take the top spot for produce sales, specialty retailers who emphasis organic goods are quickly gaining popularity.
It is a matter of preference when it comes to shopping for seasonal fruits and vegetables. While some consumers want to touch and feel the produce they select, others rely on fresh selections arriving on their doorstep.
Regardless of the venue, fresh produce arrives at each site on a regular basis to keep up with the growing demand.
Traditional grocery stores typically display seasonal and locally grown produce prominently with additional bins stocked full of other produce staples. Likewise, the fresh produce sections at specialty markets are alive with the vibrant colours of the seasonal harvest. However, the two retailers may vary the quantity of produce on hand based on traffic. Shipping fresh produce to a large grocery store may involve several trucks making a delivery often within a week. In contrast, a smaller marketplace may schedule one delivery per week with limited amounts of certain items. In each case, the shipper is working closely with the stores to determine what produce is needed and how soon a truck can arrive to replenish the shelves.
The increase of meal kit delivery has also stretched the demand to ship fresh produce. The kits are popular with those who lack the time or desire to do the shopping but want to have a tasty meal. The kits include all the ingredients, right down to the fresh peppers, tomatoes or other items. Once picked, fresh produce needs to move quickly.
7. Multimodal transport
When transporting perishables, you have distinct choices between air, sea and road freight. Choice is often a matter of speed, cost and more importantly, the type of perishables you handle.
With fresh fish, the main logistics issues are in ensuring the expected journey times are consistent with product life and reducing time off from refrigeration. Problems are most likely to occur at export terminals and transit points, both for air and sea freight. For road transport, you need to factor in traffic congestion and customs delays.
Struggling with import and export issues? Get in touch with our team of experts for bespoke logistics advice:
Vegetables and fresh fruits pose many of the same problems as seafood and flowers. Refrigerated containers and prepackaging using ice and sometimes cold gas can extend shelf life, but the reality with many perishables is that presentation is also important to the end consumer. Excessive vibrations and gases can adversely affect these products in transit.
Proper planning and operating systems overcome these difficulties to some extent, but there is always a degree of uncertainty and producers should build in some margin for delays to the planning process. Think of the cold chain as a journey to be achieved, not just a destination.
8. Restaurant or Comsumer
Wholesale produce shippers fulfill daily orders for restaurants as well as general consumers.
Today, health-conscious diners are requesting more produce options on restaurant menus. The days of the kitchen just receiving a few boxes of tomatoes, carrots, lettuce or cucumbers for salads are gone. In order to guarantee the kitchen has enough produce available, chefs and restaurant owners are working to develop networks of locally sourced produce.
9. Packaging and storing
Next, transporters must select the best packaging for shipment. Fruits like apples, citrus, and pears that have hard skins are good for long travel because they are sturdy enough to handle it. Softer fruits like plums and peaches, on the other hand, have to be carefully packaged and handled carefully. When selecting packaging, transporters must also consider factors like how to protect produce from temperature changes.
Once the produce has been selected and packaged, it is ready to be loaded and shipped. Transporters must be conscious of what they are shipping; for example some fruits cannot be transported together. All fruits release a harmless gas called ethylene after being harvested, and each fruit releases the gas in different quantities. This gas causes certain fruits like tomatoes and peppers to ripen and spoil faster, so they must be kept separate from fruits that release the gas in large quantities.
Transporters must also consider where the cargo is going. Most countries restrict the transport of products across borders to prevent the spread of bacteria and plants that could damage their local ecosystems and thus have different rules and regulations for deliveries
10. Impact damages
Another common reason food is wasted before reaching the consumer is impact damages. Consumers do not want to purchase bruised or damaged produce, so if it gets damaged in the shipping process, it will never make it to the store.
Shocks and vibrations that occur during shipping can seriously damage the produce, and this is a big risk if the items are not packaged and loaded properly. In fact, if a transporter is over-burdened with produce to ship, they may load an excessive amount of pallets in one vehicle to cut costs, often resulting in damaged goods.
While the logistics of fresh produce are challenging and complex, monitoring each step of the process can ensure that the produce makes it to the end consumer safely and intact. Technology like data logging, and the cold chain process, make this possible and allow us to have the fruits and vegetables we enjoy on a daily basis.
PML reflects on a chaotic few months for the logistics sector, telling us how it has successfully adapted its business, and looks ahead to the next Brexit pinch points.
The drama associated with Brexit has featured heavily on the business
agenda for some time, but over the last few months tensions have been running
particularly high. Companies like PML, a global operator which specialises in
the transfer of perishable goods, have been preparing for the UK’s final departure
from the EU since March 2017, when the official two-year countdown began. But
the constant uncertainty, amended timelines and unprecedented last-minute
adjustments have not made for an easy transition.
The business reports 700-800 weekly truck movements both into and out of
the EU since the final 31 December 2020 deadline and the adoption of the new
required protocols has been fairly seamless. PML invested a significant amount
of time and resource to ensure its customers were kept up to date with the new
The 90 per cent of those that engaged with the company and took on board
the need to prepare well in advance have enjoyed a relatively smooth shift over
to the new system, despite the onerous amount of additional paperwork that is
now required. However, needless to say, those clients that failed to pay any
attention to the regular updates provided by PML have run into problems.
Their cavalier approach has resulted in a flurry of last-minute
questions and enquiries, resulting in unnecessary pressure on both parties.
Trying to put in place systems at the 11th hour to
generate the newly required export documentation, Movement Reference Numbers
(MRNs), phytosanitary certification and copy invoices is simply not possible.
“Those customers that have had their operations adversely affected as a
result of Brexit have to concede that to a certain degree this is due to their
failure to prepare,” says PML’s sales director Nick Finbow. “However, the
government’s handling of events has certainly not helped either. There has been
a distinct lack of clarity from senior decision makers and it has been a real
challenge to keep up to speed with the constant changes, even in the first week
of January we were being advised of new measures.”
To provide further assistance to its customers, PML has set up a
dedicated road freight division, managed by a staff of seven to provide a full
seven-days-a-week operation. Part of this team’s remit, in addition to
processing all the customs entries and Defra paperwork, is to help customers
who have got the paperwork trail correct but are still being refused entry at
“We’ve had instances where we have submitted the relevant documents as
specified by the government authorities, only to be advised that we need to
provide other paperwork,” says Finbow. “We’ve then gone back again with the
original documentation which was suddenly deemed acceptable. On one occasion, a
driver made three separate approaches to get through at Eurotunnel and it was
only on the third try that he was given clearance. Clearly, there is an
unacceptable lack of understanding and training at some ports, which is placing
further pressure on the system.”
PML says it predicted the likely bottlenecks at the ports, which is why
last year, it partnered with transport and logistics company FreshLinc to
operate an HMRC and Defra-approved Border Control Post (BCP) and ERT (bonded
warehouse) facility at FreshLinc’s Spalding HQ, to enable a speedier movement
of product and therefore extend the shelf life of perishable consignments by up
to 48 hours.
The BCP was completed on schedule, with a planned launch date of 1
January 2021. However, despite initial approval by Defra and local inspectors,
the BCP is still awaiting final sign off from HMRC and Defra. As a result,
PML’s customers are unable to benefit from the venture that was specifically
designed to overcome the constraints at the ports to ensure no breaks in the
“Naturally this is a very frustrating situation, especially since we
worked so hard to get the operation up and running within a tight time frame,
says Finbow. “It took just five months to realise our plans of putting up
10,000 sq. ft warehouse with dedicated inspection areas. However, we accept
that the current pandemic and associated lockdown restrictions have definitely
playing a part in hindering the various government agencies ability to sign off
the facility. We hope to be able to utilise the BCP, which is in easy reach of
both Dover and Southampton docks, in the near future.”
The next Brexit pinch point will be 1 April when further Defra legislation relating to the transfer of fresh produce in and out of the EU is anticipated, resulting in even more inspections. Back-up plans are already in place but PML acknowledges that the company may need to once again review its operations when further details become available. “Fortunately, we are a resilient and forward-thinking business, so we’ve been able to continue trading throughout the pandemic and have successfully navigated the myriad challenges posed by Brexit,” Finbow says. “We are confident of our ability to deal with the next phase of operational changes and will continue to do our best to update and inform our customers as quickly as possible as and when further details are released.
The Civil Aviation Authority has tough rules on security; that’s why Perishable Movements Limited has its very own industrial metal detector.
PML is always looking to streamline its business and improve its security measures.
Robert Haynes, Business Development Manager at PML discusses the benefits and features of their state-of-the-art warehouse metal detection scanner, which is fully automated, photographs and records every piece of cargo that passes through it.
The airfreight sector has shown significant growth in recent years with global airfreight volumes reaching 61.3m tonnes in 2019 (source: Statista 2020).
Two dominant factors can be identified which have led to the clear increased demand for air transportation services capable of transferring commercial goods. The meteoric rise of e-commerce and the ability to purchase products from all over the world simply by the click of a button has stimulated a dramatic interest in delivery services that can provide a means of speedy fulfilment, to match consumer expectations.
In addition to this, while airline fuel prices reached an all-time high in 2012 which attributed to slow growth in air freight volumes, the notable fall in the cost of airline fuel in 2016 resulted in clear evidence of a growth in airfreight volume.
Benefits of airfreight
For a company involved in the transportation of temperature-sensitive, perishable goods, the advantages of moving consignments via airfreight lanes are clear. Firstly, the sheer speed of transit – air travel is by far the fastest mode of transport and hence, for products which have a finite shelf-life, the opportunity to maximise the length of time during which the goods can remain on sale in store, is critical. The difference between moving goods by air or sea can represent an extended shelf-life of up to 48 hours.
In addition, flights to destinations all over the world (under normal conditions), are frequent, providing a much wider window of opportunity to book in the expeditious transfer of cargo.
Finally, given the much-debated impact of Brexit, air travel provides the ability to transcend border delays and while the pandemic obviously has had a major impact on passenger numbers, airports largely have been able to remain operational and have been able to continue providing a much-needed service to maintain the supply of essential goods – including PPE – around the world.
Within the specific chartered air freight sector competition is fierce. There are a number of carriers now offering their services directly rather than via a charter broker and in some ways, these airlines are starting to operate as logistics providers in their own right.
From merely selling space on the aircraft, they are increasingly offering a complete one-stop shop to secure business and ensure flights are filled to maximum capacity.
Although passenger traffic has been seriously compromised by the global outbreak of coronavirus, many of the airlines have been quick to seize the opportunity to retrofit aircraft to enable them to operate as cargo carriers providing the ability to continue flying at improved capacity.
Trends for 2021
But what does the future hold for chartered airfreight services? There is no sign of any slow-down in the world of e-commerce, in fact quite the opposite. With so many consumers forced to adapt their shopping habits in response to the restrictions imposed as a result of Covid-19, it is likely that the changes that have been made will be long lasting.
While the world remains optimistic that the traditional retailers will be able to resume normal trading, the fact is that consumers will have become accustomed to revising their approach to purchasing and will be loathed to turn their back on the speedy digital shopping experience.
In response to this, more and more aircraft are being reconfigured to carry cargo, rather than passengers and there has been a spike in the number of aircraft retrofit businesses able to undertake these specialist works.
Since the production of the Boeing 747 has stopped in favour of the more fuel efficient, newer 777, so interest in the procurement of 777s to lease or buy has increased and while some of these may already be converted for cargo, we are likely to see more of these passenger aircraft configured to accommodate the exclusive handling of cargo.
The world of e-commerce traditionally focuses on a high proportion of goods being transported out of China into major European hubs. As a result, there is likely to be a predicted growth in the number of chartered airfreight services transferring consignments out of these hubs and delivering them to local European markets. This means that once again, the pressure for space will be intensified on these flights.
Given the world’s growing mandate to address the need to slow down climate change, it is also likely that the future will bring new breakthroughs in fuel efficient engines which represent an improved carbon emissions proposition.
For companies who trade on their ‘green’ credentials, this will enable them to potentially reconsider the use of chartered aircraft, which will in turn create further demand for space.
Impact of Brexit
Brexit has effectively provided a massive boost to the chartered airfreight industry. Companies which specialise in perishable goods cannot risk being caught up in cross-border delays, delays which can have a devastating impact on time-sensitive produce. UK supermarkets and independents demand quality fresh produce, with a good shelf-life.
Goods that have been kept in transit when they should have been on the shelves will have a reduced shelf-life triggering substantial losses to the producer.
For PML, the speed of transit associated with chartered aircraft services, supported by the company’s ability to handle product with an unbroken cold chain thanks to its unique relationship with Heathrow’s only dedicated chilled airside facility, has dictated an even stronger interest in chartered air freight in the wake of Brexit. Such is the demand that PML, has seized the initiative to charter its own aircraft to ensure the seamless and timely transfer of fresh produce.
The impact of the global pandemic continues to be felt in all sectors of industry and the chartered airfreight sector is certainly not exempt. As countries begin to prepare for massive vaccination programmes the priority for many airlines is to capitalise on the opportunity to carry the vaccines and as a result the race for space on chartered flights continues to heat up.
Competition for space in turn brings with it spiralling prices. Now the charters are becoming even more expensive due to the potential to charge a premium price for the transportation of PPE and vaccines.
As the biggest independent perishable goods importer, PML continues to work hard to stay ahead of the curve. In addition to chartering its own twice-weekly flight from Nairobi to Heathrow, the company is watching the market to identify new opportunities to increase the number of flight rotations operated by PML and its partner network.
Having an in-house air charter service division, headed up by someone who has acted on both sides of the fence, working for an airline as well as an independent charter broker means that the company is well placed to access the very best air trade lanes. But as anyone in the logistics business will testify, these will be challenging times for the industry.
Business groups tell ministers to sort out bureaucratic mess caused by EU trade deal.
Perishable Movements Limited senior management team remain ready and able to provide advice to government ministers as needed and to importers struggling to navigate the red tape of the post-Brexit trade deal.
Ministers must restart trade negotiations with Brussels immediately to sort out the “baffling” array of post-Brexit rules and regulations that now threaten much of the UK’s export trade to the EU, leading business groups have said.
Amid mounting anger among UK firms at cross-border friction they were told would not exist, British manufacturing and trade organisations met Cabinet Office minister Michael Gove in an emergency session on Thursday to discuss problems resulting from the deal struck by Boris Johnson with the EU before Christmas.
The prime minister had hailed what he claimed was a “zero-tariff” and “zero-quotas” deal that would allow free and simple access to the single market. Less than a month on, however, Britain’s EU departure appears to be anything but pain-free.Advertisement
One leading figure involved in the talks with Gove described the new rule book as a “complete shitshow”. Another said Gove seemed “very concerned” at hearing reports of problems, after a week in which Marks & Spencer was among leading companies to warn that more bureaucracy would increase costs. The source added: “He [Gove] seemed to realise the full gravity of the situation that is unfolding and about to get worse.”
Gove admitted on Friday that there would be “significant additional disruption” at UK borders as a result of Brexit customs changes in the coming weeks.
In the first week after the UK finally left both the single market and customs union, the parcels firm DPD suspended some of its services, bookseller Waterstones halted sales to customers in the EU and UK fishermen warned they would not be able to sell their fresh produce into EU markets because of delays at borders.
There were also problems with consignments between Great Britain and Northern Ireland as new border checks caught many businesses unawares. Luxury food store Fortnum & Mason also told customers on its website: “We are temporarily unable to deliver to Northern Ireland or countries in the European Union”, while Debenhams has temporarily shut its online business in Ireland.
Some of the problems are being blamed on a rushed deal, and others on the sheer complexity of arrangements including “rules of origin”, some of which have not been finally determined. Only goods made up largely of parts that originate in the UK qualify as tariff-free.
Stephen Kelly, chief executive of the Northern Ireland business organisation Manufacturing NI, said: “The reason why the UK and EU originally agreed that there would be an implementation period of 11 months was so that people could get their heads around what was needed and assure their businesses were compliant. But we didn’t have that. We had seven days before everyone had to be ready, and one of those was Christmas Day.
“There is a big problem with GB businesses being unaware of their new responsibilities. We have the triple whammy here of Covid, Christmas and new customs rules arriving all at once without any time to adjust.”
Johnson assured Northern Ireland business owners in November 2019 that they would have “unfettered access” to the rest of the UK. “There will be no forms, no checks, no barriers of any kind,” he said. If anyone told them they needed to fill in forms, “tell them to ring up the PM and I will direct them to throw that form in the bin.”
The government was also facing pressure over its Brexit deal from the SNP. Ian Blackford, the party’s leader in Westminster, called on the UK government to “pay compensation to Scotland”, claiming a “multibillion compensation package” was needed to mitigate the costs of Brexit in Scotland.
Stephen Phipson, chief executive of the manufacturers’ organisation Make UK, said much still needed to be negotiated between the UK and EU. “Industry welcomed the trade agreement that avoided the catastrophe of no-deal, as tariffs and quotas would have been a disaster for exporters. However, this is only a starting point, as there are still substantial issues that need ironing out, with many months, if not years, of tough negotiations ahead.
“There are customs experts with 30 years’ experience who are baffled by what the new regulations mean, let alone small- and medium-sized businesses who have never had to deal with the kind of paperwork that is now required. The great fear is that for many it will prove too much and they will simply choose not to export to the EU.”
He also raised fears about the UK car industry, which could be adversely affected by tariffs if EU rules relating to the origins of components used in car manufacture cannot be met. “Having built up seamless and complex supply chains over decades, the automotive sector in the UK is facing a jolt to its systems that places its very future under threat,” he added. “While there is no suggestion multinationals will close plants overnight, we have already seen decisions to build new models placed elsewhere. As those models that have been built in the UK for many years come to the end of their life, we are likely to see a slow puncture for the sector of investment drifting away.”
Dominic Goudie head of international trade at the Food and Drink Federation said talks needed to re-start between the UK Brussels.
“Where problems emerge there will need to be further conversations,” he said. “The trade deal provides the means to do that. It is a question of whether is the will to do so” (after so many months of talks.”
Sam Lowe, a senior research fellow at the Centre for European Reform, said there were problems that could grow over coming weeks and months.
“The new import/export formalities are proving problematic for many companies. The lack of obvious queues at the border disguises the fact that many trucks are stuck in depots, unable to head to the ports due to their clients failing to provide the necessary documentation and information.”
There is no sign of any slow-down in the world of e-commerce, in fact quite the opposite. With so many consumers forced to adapt their shopping habits in response to the restrictions imposed as a result of Covid-19, it is likely that the changes that have been made will be long lasting.
While the world remains optimistic that the traditional retailers will be able to resume normal trading, the fact is that consumers will have become accustomed to revising their approach to purchasing and will be loathed to turn their back on the speedy digital shopping experience.
In response to this, more and more aircraft are being reconfigured to carry cargo, rather than passengers and there has been a spike in the number of aircraft retrofit businesses able to undertake these specialist works. Since the production of the Boeing 747 has stopped in favour of the more fuel efficient, newer 777, so interest in the procurement of 777s to lease or buy has increased and while some of these may already be converted for cargo, we are likely to see more of these passenger aircraft configured to accommodate the exclusive handling of cargo.
The world of e-commerce traditionally focuses on a high proportion of goods being transported out of China into major European hubs. As a result, there is likely to be a predicted growth in the number of chartered air freight services transferring consignments out of these hubs and delivering them to local European markets. This means that once again, the pressure for space will be intensified on these flights.
Given the world’s growing mandate to address the need to slow down climate change, it is also likely that the future will bring new break throughs in fuel efficient engines which represent an improved carbon emissions proposition. For companies who trade on their ‘green’ credentials, this will enable them to potentially reconsider the use of chartered aircraft, which will in turn create further demand for space.
Impact of Brexit
Brexit has effectively provided a massive boost to the chartered air freight industry. Companies which specialise in perishable goods cannot risk being caught up in cross-border delays, delays which can have a devastating impact on time-sensitive produce. UK supermarkets and independents demand quality fresh produce, with a good shelf life. Goods which have been kept in transit when they should have been on the shelves will have a reduced shelf life triggering substantial losses to the producer.
For Perishable Movements Limited, the speed of transit associated with chartered aircraft services, supported by the company’s ability to handle product with an unbroken cold chain thanks to its unique relationship with Heathrow’s only dedicated chilled airside facility, has dictated an even stronger interest in chartered air freight in the wake of Brexit. Such is the demand that Perishable Movements Limited, has seized the initiative to charter its own aircraft to ensure the seamless and timely transfer of fresh produce.
The impact of the global pandemic continues to be felt in all sectors of industry and the chartered air freight sector is certainly not exempt. As countries begin to prepare for massive vaccination programmes the priority for many airlines is to captialise on the opportunity to carry the vaccines and as a result the race for space on chartered flights continues to heat up.
Competition for space in turn brings with it spiraling prices. Not only are logistics companies having to contend with the traditional seasonal variation in prices due to the influx of electronic products to satisfy the Christmas market, now the charters are becoming even more expensive due to the potential to charge a premium price for the transportation of PPE and vaccines.
As the biggest independent perishable goods importer, Perishable Movements Limited continues to work hard to stay ahead of the curve. In addition to chartering its own twice-weekly flight from Nairobi to Heathrow, the company is watching the market to identify new opportunities to increase the number of flight rotations operated by Perishable Movements Limited and its partner network.
Having an in-house air charter service division, headed up by someone who has acted on both sides of the fence, working for an airline as well as an independent charter broker means that the company is well placed to access the very best air trade lanes. But as anyone in the logistics business will testify, these will be challenging times for the industry