May 11 marked Northport’s arrival on the New Zealand container port scene, when Mediterranean Shipping Company (MSC) makes its first export loading on the newly-revamped Kiwi Express schedule.
Coming as part of a larger service restructure, the new fortnightly call on the Singapore-Jakarta-Brisbane-Sydney-Auckland-Tauranga-Wellington-Napier-Auckland-Northport-Brisbane-Tanjung Pelepas-Singapore rotation has been predicated on fruit exports.
Zespri, New Zealand’s kiwifruit industry co-operative, is a key backer of the development. Northland produces about 3.5m trays of kiwifruit each year and it has been estimated that exporting directly from Northport will potentially save NZ$66 of the NZ$102 cost per pallet of the alternative of transporting to the Port of Tauranga for despatch.
MSC containership Northern Diplomat delivered 158 empty containers to the port on April 20 in preparation for the first export loading on the service, which Northport commercial manager David Finchett hopes will continue beyond the current fruit export season.
“Our goal is to build cargo volumes to the point where the service becomes regular instead of seasonal,” he says. “If we can demonstrate consistent demand for this shipping link from Northland importers and exporters there is no reason why it should not become a weekly service instead of a fortnightly one.”