Market turmoil could cause reeferships to fill lay-up berths on the Fal
The River Fal lay-up berths, often seen as a barometer of world shipping trade, could be filling up in the next few months as the reefership (refrigerated cargo vessels) market continues to be in turmoil.
Tumbling freight rates, high fuel costs, coupled with some poor harvests around the world, has seen reefership operators laying-up and scrapping surplus tonnage.
Truro harbour master Mark Killingback and local shipping agencies report that they have had enquiries from reefer companies wanting to lay-up ships in the Fal.
High volumes of fruit, meat and other perishable goods are now being carried by large container ships rather than by traditional reeferships. Encroachment by the big container companies into this somewhat fragile market has further damaged the situation.
Poor growing conditions in Ecuador this year have seen a shortage of bananas. A third of Argentina’s exportable deciduous crop was damaged by hail. Up to 60 older reefer ships will be scrapped this year as operators remove surplus tonnage from their fleets.
The specialist companies normally rely on bumper cargoes of fruit shipped from the southern hemisphere in the first quarter of any year. For the first time in decades this peak season has not occurred this year.