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Benelux coldstores boosting capacity in preparation for post-1992 Europe.

Benelux Coldstores Boosting Capacity In Preparation for Post-1992 Europe

Having covered the troubled German cold storage industry in this magazine's July, 1989, issue, Quick Frozen Foods International was somewhat apprenhensive as to what today's Benelux public refrigerated warehouse (PRW) climate might be. But after surveying the scene in depth this winter, it can be favorably reported that several coldstores are "full up" and a number of new ones are under construction.

Although there remain some depressed areas, PRW operators serving Belgium, Holland and Luxembourg must be thanking their lucky stars for not being wholly dependent on government intervention stocks. The Germans, on the other hand, made the mistake of growing along with the easy business of getting intervention contracts. In the main they concentrated on storage only, with minor emphasis on additional services.

The Dutch say there are three ways of running a modern cold storage business: storage only, with little or no service; storage plus a distribution service to retail/catering outlets; storage plus additional services.

In some countries coldstore owners have supplemented their mission by offering a distribution option to retail and catering outlets. However, Dutch PRWs work very closely with processors, offering additional support services such as distribution, packing, pre-packing, customs paperwork, etc. An example of this intimate association can be seen in the meat trade. A cold storage company will collect a carcass, cut it into portions, pack it, freeze it, store it, and when required, deliver it.

The Dutch industry has shown continuous development dating back to 1975, and the dominant trend since then has been the expansion of the size of coldstores along with the increase of services rendered.

Table : Cold Storage Capacity

Number of Stores Total Capacity (in '000 [M.sub 3])
1975 1977 1979 1984 1989
 111 109 114 130 135
1266 1432 1854 2658 4500


Treating Benelux ports as the gateway to Europe has enhanced the import/export side of the business. Coldstores situated at harbors are fully occupied, with owners either building new depots and extensions, or negotiating sub-leasing deals because of a surplus of space in some inland warehouse.

The success of potato exports coupled with vegetable activities partially contributes to the reasonably upbeat state of the industry. The following figures illustrate the stature of Holland as a frozen vegetable processing country:

Table : Total Vegetable Trade
 1,000 kgx1,000 Guilders
 Imports
 Weight Value
1987 45,785 69,904
1988 61,509 100,591
 Exports
1987 83,337 137,034
1988 93,428 168,313


The bulk of the exports go to countries within the European Economic Community, as follows: [Tabular Data Omitted]

The difference in totals between the two tables is explained by exports to other countries.

Survey of Leading PRWs

B.G. Van Bon BV is a company happy with the contemporary situation. Mr. Van Bon told QFFI that not only were both of his cold stores full, but that he was actively involved in hiring space from other warehouse operators.

Van Bon offers customers across-the-board services: packaging, repacking, distribution, import/export paperwork preparation, and other logistics services. The bulk of business involves fish, with increased movement in fruit juice concentrates and vegetables.

The January, 1989, issue of QFFI reported that berth extension work was taking place adjacent to Van Bon's coldstore at Vlessingen. The now completed project has resulted in increased activity, including the regular berthing of the Dutch fishing trawler S.C.H.54. Launched last year and reputed to be the largest vessel of its kind in the world, its crew can catch, clean, freeze and store up to 5,000 metric tons of fish (mostly herring and mackerel) per trip.

Daalimpex BV currently operates four warehouses with a total capacity of 225,000 m(3). This figure will be increased to over 300,000 m(3) when a new depot is completed at the harbor site of Velsen, which is right on the North Sea Canal. The coldstore has been built to absorb the increased volume of U.K. companies' roll-on/roll-off truck trade. This is allied to main storage of squid, herring and French fries.

The other news is that the company has formed a new venture in cooperation with Hettema Zonen, a major potato packer. Daalimpex's duties will tie in with its normal routine of freezing and storing potatoes, vegetables, meat, butter, fish and French fries.

All Daalimpex stores offer a range of services including stevedoring, re-packing, distribution and documentation.

HIWA (Rottendam Port Cold Stores BV) is a highly specialized firm dealing solely in fruit juices and concentrates. It has two warehouse locations: one with freezing capacity of 10,000 tons in the Waalhaven area, and a second 28,000-ton capacity store right on the waterfront at Ijselhaven. Workers at the latter site are able to unload juices direct from ships to warehouses without the need of transport which is generally required for such a product to reach coldstore facilities.

HIWA is likely to expand even further in the near future by building another warehouse at Rotterdam's "Food Port." If these plans come to fruition the transport and storage of fruit juices and concentrates at the Port of Rotterdam should show rapid and substantial growth.

A few lines about the Port of Rotterdam Authority are in order. Seeing continual scope for the frozen food industry, its future development plans include the creation of two additional frozen food areas to coincide with anticipated increased activity after 1992. They will be situated adjacent to shipping berths, giving added attraction to the import trade. One site will measure 250,000 square meters, while the other will measure 130,000 square meters.

As most readers of QFFI know, Rotterdam is the largest port in the world, with a network of motorways allowing access to routes all over Europe. Just as important, it attracts Continental cargo bound for shipping lanes to the U.K. and ports of entry around the globe. Business is going well for the Authority, with tonnage having increased in the first half of 1989 by 11-million (8.7%), rising from 131-to 142.3-million. The increase in frozen food and fruit juice volume played its part in this advance.

Rotterdam-headquartered Eurofrigo is a major coldstore/distribution company. Owned by Nichirei, the Japanese cold storage and FF manufacturing giant, Eurofrigo's three operations are: Rotterdam, 170,000 cu. meters; Roermond, 65,000 cu. meters; and a 100,000 cu. meter new super coldstore in the industrial park in Venlo. The latter, situated on the German/Dutch border, is ideally placed to benefit from the rich agricultural eastern region of Benelux as well as the densely populated western reaches of Germany.

Also, late in 1989, Thermotraffic International Kuhlspedition joined the Nichirei empire. Now working even more closely with Eurofrigo, the new acquisition specializes in intra-Europe refrigerated transport. Services offered include groupage, export/import clearances, quality verification, sea forwarding and cold storage. Such fit nicely with Eurofrigo's blast freezing, defrosting, packing, sorting and distribution facilities.

For 40 years now, Jac Meisner International Expeditiebedrijf BV has acted as a forwarding agency in the specialist field of refrigerated transport, moving all types of food-stuffs to most countries in the EEC. Tonnage mainly consists of fish and marine products, followed by poultry, meat and fruit.

The company takes full advantage of distribution facilities with regular use of railway wagons as well as refrigerated trucks. Jac. Meisner can arrange not only the business, but is adept at meeting incoming consignments, labeling and customs clearance tasks.

Beemsterboer Coldstore Services BV is part of the Beemsterboer Holding Co. The parent also owns a one-third interest in Polder Food Products, whose new potato factory will begin turning out frozen French fries this year.

There are four refrigerated warehouses belonging to this company, with total capacity of 250,000 cu. meters. From the early days Beemsterboer has been service-oriented, building a flexible system that enables it to cater to all types of clients. For example, on-premise carvery facilities permit the pre-packaging of various cuts of meat to be followed immediately by freezing and storing.

The company is planning to extend its Amsterdam coldstore to 100,000 cu. meters in the future.

It should not go unnoticed that Europe's largest concentration of cold storage warehouses - 550,000 cu. meters' worth - is found at the Port of Antwerp. But the big news from Belgium is the announcement of a new European Coldstore Transport Consortium which got off the ground at the end of 1989.

Coldstar BV is very much part of this arrangement, along with three other founding companies: Associated Cold Stores of the U.K., France's Meledo, and Bon Cool Care of Holland. The consortium controls some 600 vehicles plus 22 coldstores (the largest being 150,000 cu. meters) throughout the four base countries.

This network allows for intertrade to take place with a minimum of fuss, so it is hoped that when the promised single European market comes along after 1992 the group will be able to hold its own against bigger organizations. Computerization is currently taking place with all four companies, and it is likely that the consortium will spread to Germany and other countries.

Trucks used by the group are fitted for dual-purpose frozen/fresh loads, which allows for flexibility in export/import activities. Here's an example of how the scheme works: Bon Transport will deliver to Coldstar four times per week. The latter will reload trailers immediately with goods bound for Holland that have already been delivered to Coldstar by other vehicles from the consortium.

It is understood that when the channel tunnel between England and France opens in the mid-1990s there are plans for coldstores at each end of the underwater throughway, which will also be advantageous to the new group.

Eurofrost NV is based close to the French border. The company's development over the years has meant continual improvements of storage facilities which now have a frozen food storage capacity of 68,000 cu. meters, plus 10,000 cu. meters for chilled foods. The fully computerized warehouse's freezing equipment can turn out 40 tons per day. The PRW can handle some 60,000 pallets a year.

Eurofrost has never been content to operate a coldstore operation only. It has succeeded in creating a system of transportation and groupage of small consignments to serve pan-European markets.

PHOTO : The management team at Beemsterboer Coldstore Services, Koel-en Vrieshuizen, inaugurates the opening of a new facility in June.

PHOTO : Thermotraffic and Eurofrigo have forged a partnership to offer international services for frozen and chilled food manufacturers and distributors.

PHOTO : The SCH 54, said to be the world's largest fishing trawler, is seen berthed at the Van Bon Coldstore in Vissingen.
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Title Annotation:Warehousing World
Publication:Quick Frozen Foods International
Date:Jan 1, 1990
Words:1776
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