Hapag-Lloyd announces weekly service to two South African ports

International shipping line Hapag-Lloyd has announced it will add weekly services to Durban and Gqeberha throughout peak citrus season. South Africa’s citrus industry welcomed the move, it said it will bring more stability to citrus exports. 

Port of Durban

Port of Durban

The new service will start loading in the ports by May and the bulk of scheduled calls will run until September. 

“The citrus industry and the broader economy need as much access to shipping as possible,” said Citrus Growers Association (CGA) chief executive Justin Chadwick. 

“Apart from keeping the market competitive and flexible, a new entrant is also welcome in the context of the large projected increase in citrus yield over the next few years. If all role-players work together in securing market access and more streamlined logistics, South Africa could very well increase its citrus exports with 20m 15kg cartons of citrus in the coming season.” 

He said CGA aims to export an additional 100m cartons by 2032. Last year the country shipped 165.1m cartons.  

Hapag-Lloyd said it would provide seamless connectivity with its seasonal service, the Citrus Loader. 

“This service will support our long-term commitment with the South African export market, covering seasonal needs during 2024 and the coming years,” the company said.  

The Citrus Loader will connect cargo from Durban and the Eastern Cape directly to its terminal in Tangier in Morocco as well as to all final destinations in North Europe, the Mediterranean and the east coast of the US and Canada. 

Chadwick said Hapag-Lloyd’s entry is a direct result of an advisory project launched by a number of fresh produce associations, including the CGA, in 2022.  

“In that same year, a study by the Bureau for Food and Agricultural Policy (BFAP) found that four out of five citrus growers made a loss, with extremely high shipping rates being a major contributing factor to the decrease in profitability,” he said.  

“Recent shipping price spikes due to attacks on vessels in the Red Sea, as well as drought-related complications affecting the Panama Canal, have shown how exposed many fruit exporters are to increases in shipping rates. The CGA views any measure that can introduce some stability and competition into the shipping market as a step forward.”