Fish, Potato and Vegetable Trends Bode Well for Eurofrigo

Just back from the Seafood Expo Global trade fair in Brussels when FrozenFoodsBiz.com editors caught up with him on May 9, Eurofrigo Managing Director Derk van Mackelenbergh was all smiles.

“We expect that a lot more fish will be coming into our port coldstores, as the catch quota for mackerel has been raised from 800,000 tons to 1.2 million tons,” he said. “There will probably also be a lot of capelin harvested later in the season, and much of it will likely be warehoused until sold.”

With its flagship public refrigerated warehousing (PRW) operation perched at the bustling Port of Rotterdam, Eurofrigo ought to be a prime way station for a fair share of the anticipated surge in fish landings. Its two facilities there, both of which are situated close to major container terminals and the A15 motorway, collectively offer 69,500 pallet positions.

There were also other reasons to be in a good mood, as business has been picking up nicely throughout the independently run Nichirei Holding Holland company’s network of five PRWs in the Netherlands, which provide 656,000 square meters of combined space in Rotterdam, Venlo and Roermond.

In general, harborside coldstores are already well stocked with frozen fish bound for export markets, as well as imported seafood. Meanwhile, inland sites are expecting to see an uptick in frozen potato product holdings.

Bill-Derk-photoDerk van Mackelenbergh (right) gives Bill Hudson a penguin sculpture in recognition of his induction into ECSLA’s Penguin Club. The presentation took place recently in San Diego, California, where the retired president and ceo of the Global Cold Chain Alliance was honored for more than three decades of service to the industry. Looking on in the background is Chris Sturman, chief executive of the United Kingdom’s Food Storage and Distribution Federation.“As the free market price of processing potatoes stored on speculation prior to the next crop has fallen dramatically, frozen french fry companies have been quite busy producing at significantly lower costs compared to last year. Much of the output will probably have to be stored for a while,” said Van Mackelenbergh. “We also think that more frozen vegetables than usual will enter our facilities.”

So, after a relatively slow start in January and February, momentum has been on a steady upswing. With the exception of three or four years after the 2008 economic crisis – when obtaining financing for stock purchases became burdensome and more time consuming for some packers and trading companies, resulting in unusually large levels of inventory in temporary limbo – reduced throughput is historically normal during the early part of the year, following build ups and draw downs leading to the Christmas and New Year holidays.

“It seems that the economy is still rebounding in 2014, at least for us, following a very busy in 2013,” said the managing director. “Let’s hope that this trend  continues.”

It has been a busy year for Van Mackelenbergh on the trade association front as well, as he serves as president of the European Cold Storage and Logistics Association (ECSLA), which lobbies on behalf of the EU cold chain sector in Brussels. Additionally, it organizes pan-European educational meetings, training programs and confabs, such as the upcoming Fall Cold Chain Logistics Conference in Athens, Greece. Scheduled to take place October 2-3 at the NJV Plaza Hotel, it is being arranged in cooperation with the Greek Cold Storage and Logistics Association.

The Eurofrigo managing director, who travels a lot visiting overseas clients, also acts as a roving ambassador to promote the organization both in the EU and abroad. In this capacity, he recently led a ceremony inducting Bill Hudson, former president and ceo of the Global Cold Chain Alliance (GCCA), into the ECSLA Penguin Club. The retired executive, who now holds the honorary position of president emeritus, was presented with a special memento in San Diego, California, in appreciation for his many years of service to the international cold chain industry. – JMS