Perishable goods, such as fresh fruit and vegetables, are taking up more space as air cargo en route to Germany and other EU countries than ever before, according to Lufthansa Cargo's head of operations.
In an interview with FreshFruitPortal.com, Oliver Blum told the publication that the annual amount that comes through Lufthansa's Frankfurt perishables centre is about 110,000 tonnes. Lufthansa Cargo transports 71,000 of those tonnes.
“We started with a third flowers, a third fruit and vegetables, and a third meat and fish, but that changed. During the last four years, fruit and vegetables have become a big commodity, and it’s growing."
The European Union is the largest fruit importer in the world – to the German market, especially.
“They want to have tropical fruits, special fruits, as fresh as you can deliver,” Blum said during the recent Fruit Logistica fresh-produce event in Berlin.
While most fruit producers would prefer to send shipments via maritime freighters due to cost, keeping fruit and vegetables fresh across long distances sometimes requires faster transport.
Blum said that big exports in Europe and the UK included berries, avocados and papayas.
He said that he has also seen an increase in re-exports to China, especially shipments of Chilean cherries. Shipments take 12 to 14 hours to get to Frankfurt, and then another ten-hour flight is necessary to get to Shanghai.
Lufthansa uses vacuum coolers and temperature lockers to keep the produce cool, both in flight and before it goes on its next journey.
Some retailers are using rail instead of air as a way to ship fresh produce faster, and with fewer emissions. Belgium's Colruyt Group, the Netherlands' Albert Heijn and German chain Edeka all joined the Cool Rail service last year.
© 2017 European Supermarket Magazine – your source for the latest retail news. Article by Karen Henderson. Click subscribe to sign up to ESM: The European Supermarket Magazine.