The man from Del Monte says no
I never thought I’d see the day when the man from Del Monte, famous for always saying yes and giving a cheery thumbs up, would actually say no. But it turns out that if one of his vessels is delayed in port for 36 hours with its luscious cargo rapidly losing its shelf life, he’s not so amenable after all.
It all started when the Johannes S vessel docked into an APM Terminal in Costa Rica on Saturday April 6th at 5 pm where, for reasons that have yet to be made clear (or at least public), she had to stay docked until Monday 8th April at 5.30 am. The full article can be read here but the long and the short of it appears to be a lack of communication between the port and the Workers Union of Japdeva, who incidentally have condemned reports that a further two vessels got fed up of waiting for assistance in the same terminal and set sail for Panama instead.
Del Monte have every right to be frustrated. Not only have they had to pay for unnecessary time in port, increased costs in refrigeration and the potential of the products not meeting their high standards, but it also completely destroys any chance of the vessel staying on her planned schedule. These are significant knock-on effects that cost money, waste fuel (imagine how many extra bunkers were being burnt just to try and claw back some of the lost time?), and most importantly causes countless headaches for the shipowners, logistics suppliers, vendors and of course, the end customer. Who wants to buy a rotten banana?
As the terminal has yet to comment, it’s difficult to surmise why this happened and therefore how it can be prevented from happening again. Sticking to the schedule is paramount in commercial shipping, particularly if you’re a reefer vessel carrying countless tonnes of perishable fruit. For a smaller company with more modest resources, this is the kind of catastrophe that has dire financial and economic consequences.
I really wouldn’t want to start upsetting one of the largest fruit and vegetable producers on the planet, because it turns out that the man with the jaunty panama hat isn’t quite as agreeable as you might think…