Perishables are the commodity to watch for air cargo over the coming years

Perishables are the commodity to watch for air cargo over the coming few years while demand from the high tech industry has tailed off.
Speaking at a panel discussion during Tiaca’s Air Cargo Forum in Paris, Seabury Group senior vice president Marco Bloemen explained that in 2016 the volume of laptops transported by air cargo had dropped by more than 100,000 tons compared with 2015, with high tech in general down by even more.
“From 2000 high tech was a key driver for the air cargo growth rate,” he said. “But over the last couple of years high tech has not been growing at the same high rate as previously, so there must be something else.
“This year, we see a major decline for high tech of 176,000 tonnes year to date and that is primarily caused by laptops that are not travelling by air, or not travelling at all.”
He said that this was down to a decline in the amount of people purchasing laptops and not necessarily because of a modal shift to ocean.
“In contrast, the key driver for air cargo growth is perishables, which is up by 140,000 tonnes in 2016 compared with last year.
“Who would have said a year ago that salmon, flowers and milk powders going in to China are the key commodities for growth, rather than the high tech sector that we are used to,” he said.
“In that sense we are seeing a shift; perishables will be the commodities that cater for airfreight growth in the years ahead, be it fish, flowers or fruit.”
He added that while perishables may offer demand growth, it may not “pay as the industry would like it to”.
Pharma, meanwhile, may pay well but it isn’t the “holy grail in terms of volume”.
However, Blomen said that technology could still provide room for growth, with new phone launches a particular area of improvement.
Over the last few years the launch of a new iPhone  – in around September − had created a demand peak and the industry and he was hopeful this would also be the case in 2016 with the launch of the latest device in September.
Another area for growth in the future is e-commerce, with domestic volumes the main driver at the moment, but international e-commerce “one to watch” in the coming years.

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