Services between the Port of Liverpool and the Iberian peninsula will be expanding from next week which includes imports of produce direct from Spain and Portugal.
The service provided by operator MacAndrews, a subsidiary of the CMA CGM Group, will call in at Liverpool four times a week, arriving from Bilbao, Lisbon and Leixoes, which means an expansion of its current service by an estimated 30%.
MacAndrews has replaced Go Associates as the operator of the Liverpool Fresh Produce Terminal, which went into liquidation 15 months ago.
The shipments will include imports of fruit delivered from Spain and Portugal to Liverpool's £6m facility, which has been operational since the third quarter of 2009.
The growth of the service from MacAndrews, which has serviced Liverpool since 1770, is supported both by the commissioning of the terminal and by a modal shift from road to sea across a number of commodities including building materials, automotive and other manufactured goods and fresh produce.
According to statistics published by Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs in September last year, short-sea shipping has only half the emissions of rail and reduces carbon dioxide emissions against road emissions by some 80%.
Stephen Carr, head of business development at the Port of Liverpool, said: "By offering four sailings per week, the Port of Liverpool is providing a real alternative to retailers and importers striving to serve northern and central UK in an environmentally friendly manner.
"Water is both the greenest and most cost effective mode of transport available and by addressing the frequency of service, MacAndrews has provided a viable alternative to road."
The Liverpool Fresh Produce Terminal is new build and has seen volumes increase since final commissioning in 2009. The new services will result in a reduction in road miles on fresh produce and on other goods on the return journey, for importers and exporters who currently use other UK ports and who transport to and from the north by truck.
Andy Rickard, operations director of Liverpool Produce Terminal, said: "We have taken part in a one million case trial of citrus fruit, which has demonstrated the massive advantages of supplying Northern Britain by sea to the Port of Liverpool, both in terms of cost savings and CO2 benefits. We have recently begun handling additional fresh produce, including tomatoes, cucumbers and peppers, and have planned trials for fruit juice and frozen vegetables."
The Port of Liverpool's fresh produce terminal is a 90,000 sq ft quayside cool store that has been built by Peel Ports Group and is operated by the company Liverpool Produce Terminal. Containers of produce are quickly transferred from vessel and emptied into the cool store, which enables rapid availability of stock.
The cool store has four individually controlled chambers and can operate around the clock, employing as many as 100 permanent and supplemental staff.
Carr added: "The development of Liverpool Produce Terminal is a prime example of how Port of Liverpool, with its central location, continues to make major contributions to the reduction of truck road miles. The terminal will make a very significant contribution to the food transport industry's response to increasing economic and environmental pressure to cut food miles and the carbon footprint."
The Port of Liverpool offers a gateway to trade from North America and more than 100 other non-EU destinations. Management are now keen to open up new trade routes with a view to further developing business benefits.