Leading international reefer operator Star Reefers Inc has reported strong results for first half of 2008 (January-June), with net income increasing to US$32.2m from US$27.9m in 2007 and earnings per share rising to US$3.68 from US$3.18.

In a statement, the group announced that year-on-year gross freight revenues for the period had grown US$22.1m to US$144.2m, with container capacity increasing 7 per cent to 129.5m cbft.

The positive results have been partly attributed to an increase in European banana demand from March onwards, following a disappointing first quarter. 'Cold and wet climatic conditions in the banana-growing regions of Ecuador resulted in reduced export volumes and weaker spot market freights in January and February,' the statement said. 'However, from March 2008, the demand and prices for bananas in Europe increased – fruit exports from Argentina and South Africa also accelerated.”

The group added that in the short term, it anticipates a continuation of the traditional summer decline in freight rates as Mediterranean fruit markets choose locally sourced alternatives in preference to imported tropical fruits. 'However, the good citrus, fish and poultry markets seem likely to mitigate the worst effects of the drop in demand from banana charterers during this summer slow down,' it added.