Having more high quality Peruvian ports would help provide more options for shippers and would benefit Peru’s fresh goods market, according to one of Maersk Line’s South American chiefs.
Francisco Ulloa, managing director, West Coast of South America, told CM an increase in the number of ports would shorten transit times and would mean avoiding the heavy congestion currently facing the country’s main port, Callao.
Ulloa said: “Investment in ports along the country always helps, especially when you’re talking about fresh goods.
“When you’re talking about blueberries, the difference could be between trucking a very sensitive fruit 500 km, or just trucking them 50 km, and we have to recognise that in Peru the roads are sometimes not in the best condition.”
It is the roads and other areas of the hinterland that Ulloa said need real attention.
“If we want to make our countries more productive, if we want to be more efficient, and if we want to develop faster, we need to improve the infrastructure.
“If you go to many ports in Latin America that are working normally you will see a big line of trucks trying to get into the port – there are not enough bridges or highways.”
Maersk Line currently calls at Callao’s 2m teu facility and the much smaller Port of Paita in the northwest of Peru.
The carrier also recently began calling at the even smaller Port of Pisco, located near Peru’s main grape growing region, Ica.
Ulloa said: “If we can give customers the solution to call in a port that is closer to their premises, it’s a good thing for them.”
In terms of ensuring that Maersk Line has enough reefers for South American fresh food exports, Ulloa said that the carrier has enough for its customers, but uncontrollable circumstances could cause disruptions.
He said: “We have been planning this season so we are covered in terms of reefer equipment, but with that said it is not easy to confirm what is going to happen with the weather.
“If there’s a hurricane in Costa Rica then the demand in Ecuador is going to skyrocket and then you don’t have enough.”
The weather has played an important part in Peru’s trade already this year as the effects of El Nino damaged grape exports, although the subsequent good climate does bode well for other products, particularly cherries.
However, the unpredictable weather will not impact on the way Maersk Line plans for the season ahead according to Ulloa.
He said: “Shippers have to understand that we have to be efficient and productive – containers won’t sit in a port for weeks for the sake of ‘just in case’, we have to be careful.”
The logistical planning of repositioning reefers back to South America has seen some members of the industry suggest a regional empty reefer hub, but Ulloa disagrees.
He said: “The best you can do with the boxes is keep them moving, like any other asset they have to be working.”