Logistics specialist NFT has opened bespoke chilled produce chambers in its 230,000 sq ft facility at Tilbury, a move it says will enable the fast and efficient importation of fresh produce.
The opening of the chambers comes on the back of a number of contract wins this year from shipping lines and produce importers to handle pineapples, melons, bananas, grapes and oranges, processing over 5,000 pallets per week.
Within the facility, two 30,000 sq ft chambers operate at 7C and 14C respectively. Additional capacity of 30,000 sq ft, operating at 10-12C, will also become available shortly, with the remaining 140,000 sq ft operating at 2C.
NFT points out that its operating model enables the temperature profile and labour resource in each chamber to be flexed to match the produce seasonality and retailer demand. All contracts involve warehousing and storage, however the key benefit for importers is "NFT’s capability to also provide added-value activities involving retailer reworking and stock ‘top-up’ service," according to the company.
From an initial volume of over 55 reefer containers per week, this will rise to a volume equivalent to over 230 containers from summer with the addition of grape and banana volumes. Much of this additional volume will be created by a new Seatrade reefer service into Tilbury, with the vessel berthing immediately behind the NFT facility each week, enabling pallets to be unloaded directly from the vessel to the NFT warehouse door.
Chris Soanes, commercial director at NFT, said: “These are exciting times for the team at the Port of Tilbury. The momentum of interest we are experiencing is testament to the scale of operations and large volume of fresh produce we’re capable of handling, and this growth illustrates that we are very much open for business right now.
"A big positive for me has been the way we have been able to impart our specialist expertise and work collaboratively with growers, and importers who we recognise as being experts in their field to create a highly responsive and efficient supply chain into UK retailers.”