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THERE is good news and bad to be found in consultant Drewry's latest forecasts on the state of the reefer trade. According to its analysis, seaborne reefer trade is expected to make a "robust recovery" after the fall in 2009. The analyst expects perishable reefer trade to reach 203 m tonnes by 2015 compared to 157 m tonnes in 2009, with particularly strong growth in meat cargoes over the period from 2000 to 2009.

The bad news is the specialised reefer fleet is continuing to decline and has fallen 17% over the last decade as older less efficient ships struggled to compete during the peak in fuel prices. Although scrapping has increased in recent times there is nothing to speak of in the order book despite a fall in prices of 20% over the last year. With new containerships under construction with a higher reefer capacity, Drewry expects containerised reefer capacity to grow 30% by 2015. Specialised reefer operation will have to cope with the container segment taking an aggressive approach to expand market share. Can reefers retain their share in the market? Maybe now is the time to start ordering a few ships and doing a bit of aggressive marketing.

Bananas, incidentally seem to be one area where reefers may dominate. Joke: why are bananas never lonely? Because they hang around in bunches. Get it? Bunches.

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