Once again, the port of Bilbao will showcase its proposal for the logistics and transport of fruit and vegetable products at Fruit Attraction, the trade fair and meeting point for exporters and importers of fruit and vegetables, to be held in Madrid from 5 to 7 October. In doing so, the aim is to consolidate the position of the port with national and international operators as a food hub in the north of Spain, and to explore new opportunities to increase its revenue streams.
The intermodal services of the port, together with its experience in this type of goods and its collaboration in this area with Mercabilbao, enable it to channel fruit and vegetable traffic to Europe and other Spanish regions from Central America, South America, South Africa and other parts of Spain.
The port of Bilbao handles around 170,000 tonnes of fruit and vegetables a year, of which approximately 90% are exports and the remaining 10% imports. The main consignments include frozen vegetables, onions, garlic and leeks, and citrus fruits, with a significant amount of reefer container traffic.
The main countries of destination are the United Kingdom and the Republic of Ireland, markets that account for almost 84% of fruit and vegetable exports. Bilbao is the leading port in Spain in maritime transport with Northern Europe and the United Kingdom. Specifically, services with the UK market have been stepped up and procedures have been streamlined to meet the new needs arising from Brexit.
One stand-out example of the fruit and vegetable import and export traffic-related services to be showcased by the port at Fruit Attraction is e-puertobilbao, the online platform that the port of Bilbao has provided for its customers to speed up processes and operations.
In terms of infrastructures, the container terminal at the port of Bilbao, managed by CSP Iberian Bilbao Terminal, is the most important and has the deepest draft in the north of Spain. The terminal is connected to the main ports of northern Europe, has 540 plug-in sockets for reefer containers and an automated access that speeds up and streamlines all operations, including those of fresh produce transporters, as well as a 550-metre, four-track rail terminal. By exceeding the security standards required of a container terminal, it has obtained Authorised Economic Operator (AEO) authorisation for customs simplification and safety and security.
The port is also equipped with ro-ro and multi-purpose terminals and perishable goods warehouses. The cold terminal, Frioport, has 4,800 m² of surface area, two freezer chambers at -25 degrees totalling 16,300 m³ and three positive cold rooms with a capacity of 7,500 m³.
Progeco, for its part, has two facilities for the storage and transfer of goods, providing a total of 6,000m² of positive cold storage. The company also handles storage, maintenance and repair of refrigerated containers, providing solutions
24/7 for all types of problems with both structural issues and refrigerated machinery for shipping companies and all types of customers in the sector, and thereby avoiding delays and breakages in the cold chain. Progeco is the sole dealer (official technical service) in the north of Spain for the main manufacturers (Carrier, Thermoking, Star Cool and Daikin).
Additionally, the Border Inspection Post (BIP) of the port of Bilbao is a benchmark among Spanish ports. This large-capacity facility, with 16 lorry loading bays, is operational 24 hours a day, and provides the following services: a Border Inspection Post (BIP), an unloading port, Designated Points of Entry (DPE), DPE/DPI (Designated Points of Import, points for the control of food products from certain third countries), radioactivity monitoring, Authorised Customs Areas (ACA) and FPI (First Points of Introduction).
In 2020, fruit and vegetable trade in Mercabilbao exceeded 233,600 tonnes, a figure which is increasing every year. In 2021, the trend is forecast to continue along the same lines, achieving record figures in terms of trade.
In such a special year, 50 years since the Central Fruit and Vegetable Market was set up in its current location, Mercabilbao returns to Fruit Attraction alongside the Port Authority of Bilbao to showcase their joint internationalisation strategy in the fruit and vegetable sector.
MercaBilbao is strategically located very close to the intersection of the Paris-Hendaia-Madrid axis, next to the Cantabrian motorway and with a direct connection to the motorway network. These factors, together with its collaboration with the port of Bilbao, make it the ideal place to pursue an efficient and high-quality strategy of internationalisation, providing operators in the fruit and vegetable sector with a competitive advantage in terms of resources, economics, time, available infrastructures and existing logistics warehouses.