The link between food safety and container shipping will form a key focus for one of the plenary sessions at this year’s inaugural Cool Logistics Asia conference.
According to Metro China, part of international wholesale giant Metro Cash & Carry, food safety has become the primary concern for more than 70 per cent of the Chinese population, highlighting the need for greater supply chain surveillance.
Thomas Lau, head of supply chain management and logistics at Metro JinJiang Cash & Carry Co, will explore challenges for food safety compliance and the impact on first-mile logistics in China in a keynote address at this year's Cool Logistics Asia. The specialist perishables logistics and transport conference takes place in Hong Kong on 2 September, alongside the annual Asia Fruit Logistica trade fair.
With more than 750 wholesale stores in 26 countries, Metro Cash & Carry is a leading international player in wholesale trade, operating 80 stores in China alone. Metro's cash and carry business concept is directed towards professional customers and thus differs from other retail chains that target end consumers.
"Food - especially fresh foods that require temperature control – are a major focus of Metro JinJiang Cash & Carry," said Lau, who will use the conference to emphasise the importance of further educating suppliers to improve cold chain management and meet food hygiene standards, ensuring best possible food quality at the point of sale.
There are an estimated 300 new national standards governing permissible limits of pollutants, traces of pesticides and dairy safety in China. What is needed now is a more unified approach and consolidation of existing food safety standards, according to Lau.
The overall outlook for reefer container shipping in Asia will be assessed at the conference by keynote speaker Lars Kastrup, senior vice-president at CMA CGM. Kastrup's speech will address critical issues facing reefer container shipping, its customers and its supply chain partners, including service reliability, port performance, direct calls and feeder services.
Over the past few years, the major shipping lines have been focused on investing in, and deploying, bigger container vessels, according to conference event organisers Cool Logistics Resources and Global Produce Events. Less attention, however, has been paid to investing in replenishing the ranks of ageing reefer containers, with carriers increasingly relying on leasing companies to make up the shortfall
Nigel Webster, who heads up refrigerated container operations at container lessor Seaco, will join the conference to discuss how the cold chain is being financed, assessing global reefer container investment trends today and for the future. Seaco, indirectly owned by Chinese-listed company Bo Hai Leasing Co, significantly expanded its business last year with the acquisition of rival Cronos, and now claims the largest CEU (cost equivalent unit) share of the global leasing market.
Cool Logistics Resources said the conference will bring together the leading players in developing and investing in new cold supply chain concepts in China, India and other emerging markets in South East Asia, including Swire Pacific, China Merchants / Americold Logistics, Pernod Ricard and shipping lines such as MOL Liner. "We are pleased to be able to bring together all the key actors who will be designing the perishable supply chains of the future for a productive dialogue on the challenges and opportunities ahead," said Alex von Stempel, managing director of Cool Logistics Resources.