The Port of Townsville, Queensland, has started a three-week trial of the use of refrigerated containers which could pave the way for the export of more fruit from the region to Asia.
The trial, which is currently underway, is with specialty melons and will provide primary information on optimal harvest time and shelf life validation for sea transportation of fruit to Asia.
Maria James, trade development manager of Port of Townsville, said the ability to export fruit directly from north Queensland could eliminate a number of challenges.
"At present growers in north Queensland send their produce south for export, which adds to their supply chain costs and delivery time,” James said.
"The success of this trial could assist the region's growers by reducing transportation costs and ensuring their customers are getting faster fresher produce, boosting the capacity and sustainability of north Queensland's horticultural sector."
The project is funded through the Queensland government’s ‘Growing Queensland's Food Exports’ pilot programme and supported by international shipping line ANL, which provided use of a refrigerated sea container for the trial along with expertise and guidance in refrigerated logistics.
“Australia has progressed to be thought of as the food bowl of Asia and we want to ensure our premium quality produce is enjoyed by all – it’s channels like these that help promote our grower’s product,” said Shane Walden, chief commercial officer of ANL.
“ANL’s broad coverage provides opportunities for customers to export to South-East Asia and beyond. Servicing the major hubs of Singapore and Port Kelang, customers can tranship their cargo anywhere in the world,” Walden said.
"By working together with local industry on projects like the sea-freighted melon trial, we hope to build farmer's confidence in sea freighted logistics and encourage growth in refrigerated container exports."