Maersk Container Industry will supply 2,500 new containers to Chiquita, including 1,000 units with its Controlled Atmosphere system.
Chiquita is both a producer of bananas and an operator of its own shipping fleet through its ocean carrier, Great White Fleet. It has a fleet of over 15,000 reefers has historically operated a diverse range of reefer machinery.
MCI said its Controlled Atmosphere (CA) technology was a factor in securing the Chiquita’s latest order for new reefer containers. Of the 2,500 containers, 1,000 will be fitted with MCI’s Star Cool CA system, which controls ripening to extend the transportation window to up to 45 days . CA is not needed for Chiquita’s shorter routes, such as its California Banana service that has a sailing time from the banana production areas to the Port of Hueneme in Los Angeles of 4-5 days. The CA boxes will be deployed on the longer routes to European markets.
CA is shaping up as something of a battle ground between reefer manufactures, with important differences in the technology being offered to the market. “The well-proven Star Cool CA concept ensures safe operation and fast oxygen pull down. This reduces the speed of the ripening to a minimum, allowing for extended travel distances, optimal freshness and longer shelf life without using supplementary third-party solutions,” said MCI. CA is an area where MCI claims market leadership - at the end of 2017 MCI had delivered some 40,000 CA reefers to date and another 35,000 that are “CA ready”.
Great White Fleet Ltd. President Stefano Di Paolo endorsed Star Cool CA, “From shipment to shipment, each load can be carefully controlled based on the needs of the cargo. This is essential to deliver best quality bananas to our customers and allows for a transportation window of up to 45 days. The CA technology is robust, effective and easy to control based on each individual shipment,” he said.
Energy consumption is another factor that was important to Chiquita. Operating its own vessels (some of which are now paying energy charges for shore power in California at the metered utility rate plus a 25% markup), Chiquita has been very focused on power consumption. In 2015 Chiquita started a reef fleet upgrade programme to replace 4,750 older reefers with 5,700 new units, reducing energy consumption by 35 to 58% per container in the process.
Di Paolo said it is has achieved further reductions since then. “Using Star Cool Integrated containers over the last two years, we are satisfied with the high-quality banana delivery. At the same time, we have achieved significant operational efficiencies and markedly reduced our energy consumption. This goes hand in hand with our commitment to sustainable shipping practices and we are now looking forward to even more power reductions adding the newest technology in this field.”
“Since adding Star Cool Integrated to its fleet, Chiquita has gained first-hand operational knowledge of the low-energy consumption and durable low-weight container design,” MCI noted. “In the new batch, the banana producer will also be able to take advantage of MCI’s StarConomy software, which is proven to halve energy use without compromising the quality of the precious cargo”.
“We are very proud that Chiquita has once again selected Star Cool containers to optimise its fruit logistics and help deliver high-quality bananas to the consumers,” said Søren Leth Johannsen, Chief Commercial Officer, MCI. “When you say Chiquita, you think bananas, a challenging fruit to transport over longer distances. Therefore, we’re very pleased that Chiquita has found first-hand that Star Cool CA is a robust and reliable solution for banana shipping.”
The new 40-foot high cube Star Cool Integrated containers are delivered directly from MCI’s manufacturing facility in Qingdao, China to be transported to Moin, Costa Rica for first loads of fresh bananas destined for the USA and Europe. The containers are supplied to Chiquita under a long-term lease managed by Sun Intermodal Ltd.