Speaking at the WA Farmers Dairy Conference in Busselton in Western Australia, Kevin Sorgiovanni, the director of dairy manufacturer Harvey Fresh, claimed that major expansion of freight routes beyond the current two ships was needed to cut down on spoiled consignments.
According to Sorgiovanni, current shipping routes for fresh produce to Asia were wildly insufficient.
Instead of investing in dairy plants or seeking Chinese investment, transport channels must be fixed, he stressed. Currently, the most economical way to convey dairy to Asia is by sea, with only a few premium products justifying air freight.
“At the moment,” said Sorgiovanni, “there are four or five different vessels that are operating between Fremantle and Singapore, or Fremantle and Hong Kong. But there is only one reliable service and that service leaves every Saturday, and unfortunately there are only two ships.
“One’s going, while one’s coming back. Unfortunately all of a sudden there’s a storm and the ship’s got to stay at sea and can’t dock at Fremantle so it loses a couple of days.”
Sorgiovanni explained that in cases of delay, the boats wait to fall back in sync: “So even though the ship coming to Australia may have been delayed two days, the ship that’s on its way to Singapore actually waits until they sync back again, so you technically lose a week.
“We had a situation a month ago where we lost 350,000 litres of fresh milk out at sea because when it arrived at its destination, it was out of code. We had another situation where we had product on the wharf ready to go, and the ship never made it.”
Sorgiovanni concluded by calling on government bodies to “look seriously” at how to improve shipping to Asia.