Executive Insights is a series by Shipping and Freight Resource that provides insights and thoughtful analysis about the industry..
This series features selected individuals from the industry and is aimed at enriching the knowledge of the readers with what is happening in the shipping, freight, maritime, logistics, and supply chain industry..
Executive Insights also gives you a chance to pick the brains of these industry veterans, leaders, and enablers..
In this edition of Executive Insights, we caught up with Rafael Llerena, CEO of Easyfresh, on aspects of perishable shipments and matters relating to Reefer Logistics..
SFR : Can you share with the readers, the motivation behind Easy Fresh and how has the journey been so far..??
RL : Our mission is to supply integrated logistics solutions for perishable cargo globally.
This the path that the three Easyfresh owners want to follow, since Easyfresh inception almost 14 years ago. Easyfresh offers transport solutions from A to B anywhere in the world under temperature controlled environment.
Easyfresh is focused to fresh and frozen cargo logistics. Besides it, we are 100% neutral and independent (not trading and not linked to any carrier or shipping line). We operate, own or subcontract coldstorages and add inland distribution, clearances and other value added services to the seafreight.
Let me add : We are not a network. We HAVE a network of own offices and specialized representatives, covering 220 countries and territories and operating under certain internal rules, supervised by Easyfresh headquarters and outlined in our Easyfresh Service Manual and our Easyfresh Code of Conduct outline.
All in all our target is to develop our mission and increase our market shares and presence in those geographical and business areas we feel there is room for improvement. Asia is a good example, for it.
SFR : What are some of the key developments that have taken place with Reefer Logistics over the years..??
RL : Reefer is “conservative”. Customers, being shippers or receivers are protective to their sensitive cargo. This leads to a fragmentation of the cold chain.
Anyhow there is a fact that dominates any trade globally : The strength of the food retailers and supermarkets. This driver is clearly monitoring change, regardless of being physical stores or e-commerce focused.
Besides it, there are more production areas, more consumption areas, new products and a number of operational bottle-necks that increase the complexity and lead customers to select specialised 3PLs in the field of temperature controlled goods.
In other words; markets require specialization and, likewise, allow significant investment opportunities within the reefer industry.
Our new quayside coldstore (under construction) in Moerdijk (Netherlands) is a clear example.
SFR : What are some the common problems or issues that you face in your day to day business of Reefer Logistics..??
RL : Each commodity and trade leg has its own peculiarities and requires a synchronised and specific origin & other end’s Easyfresh office action.
Therefore the need of a specialised network and strong focus. So there are not many common problems, but radically different ones, depending on the case. If you wish, the only relevant issues that are common to all trades are : The lack of dedication, follow up and passion leads to failures.
It is impossible to relax if you’d wish to offer your customer peace of mind and a smooth transit of cargo upto destination.
SFR : How can these be overcome and how strong is the knowledge factor/education of the shippers, vendors and supplier education involved in the handling of perishables..??
RL : As said, Easyfresh is present in 220 countries and territories. The maturity of the markets differ not only country by country, but inside a same country, location by location and even by commodity or industry (it is not the same to carry frozen seafood than freshly picked strawberries).
From Easyfresh perspective, it is therefore obvious ; we need to train our staff and so we created our internal “Training Sessions”.
These allow to transmit our business model and culture to our staff. Thereafter these interact with the customer and markets, so subsequently, our modus operandi and know-how is gradually spreaded and gaining ground day after day.
SFR : Can you give some tips for the new start up farmers, cool stores or shippers in terms of how they must handle their shipments and somethings that they must not do..
RL : They should work with specialised 3PLs with expertise in reefer trades.
SFR : What is your view of the current issues facing the trade in terms of space and equipment crunch which is bound to worsen during reefer season across various ports around the world..??
RL : After the years of consolidation, now we have a “de facto” oligopoly, which has been promoted and allowed by the different rulers, worldwide.
Short term problems will remain. Long term, maybe, new players will arise, as it happened years ago in the passenger airfreight industry with the low-cost airlines.
Within this mess, we 3PLs are trouble-shooters and, not always, but many times we are able to offer alternatives . e.g,. presenting alternative ports or combined rail/road/seaborne solutions and/or, e.g. in Europe our “European model”.
SFR : Have you been using any of the “smart containers” in your business and how has that experience been so far..??
RL : We operate an own container fleet of 45 reefer container fleet (diesel electric). These units are operating mostly within Europe & Mediterranean and are equivalent to a truck capacity.
Those can be railed, shipped or trucked. Upon customers choice we include temperature track & trace solutions, being those connected to our cold store systems.
Any “smart container” solution is a plus, if the customer is requiring the extra service and accepting its related cost.