FRUIT and vegetable traffic will bring added value to the port of Trieste”, Zeno D’Agostino, President of Assoporti and of the Port Authority of the Eastern Adriatic Sea, explained. D’Agostino said, “We want it to generate added value and some port operators are working in this direction. Today there is demand for temperature-controlled properties in this area and everywhere. Temperature-controlled logistics and port operations are one of the safest investments that can be made at this moment. This is linked to our efforts in integrating this sector with the industry, for example at free port areas. In this particular case, we are talking about industrial sectors that are typical of the Made in Italy brand, which represents one more challenge when it comes to temperature-controlled and perishable products.”
Trieste aims to make the most of its client base, which is not only from within Italy, but also beyond its borders into Europe. “This type of development applies not only to the port, but to all the logistical areas that are increasingly integrated with the port, such as the Fernetti terminal and the former Wartsila areas. In these areas we are trying to understand how much space could be used for food, perishable products and buildings associated with temperature-controlled storage. It’s one of the things that we will push in 2018.”
The promotion of Made in Italy agri-food products is something that D’Agostino has emphasized not just for Trieste, but for certain Italian ports that are currently struggling, such as the southern ones which have been focused mainly on transhipment. He explained, “It is a specialization that could also be developed in some southern ports. As national president of Assoporti, I think that Southern Italy could move into this niche. It is an issue that must be examined in depth. The Mediterranean area is beginning to show signs of economic and industrial vitality, in the transport sector, as well. I believe that Southern Italy may have opportunities that are even more interesting than China’s new Silk Road project. Its production system has a significant competitive advantage in this sense.”
Returning to the reality of Trieste, the Port Authority, as the entity in charge of development, is moving forward with making real estate available to operators in the port and beyond, for facilities that will need to have advanced technological characteristics. For two years now, Trieste operator Enrico Samer has run the port fruit terminal and has become an important interlocutor for the Port Authority in the temperature-controlled sector. The Samer Group has been active in this sector for many years through the Frigomar Company, which manages cold warehouses outside the port for goods such as hazelnuts from Turkey that are used to produce Nutella. “Another of our subsidiaries,” Enrico Samer said, “is Samer Seaports and Terminals, which operates the Motorways of the Sea Terminal for Turkey. We acquired the TFT Fruit Terminal through this company. And we have become managers of additional reefer traffic in Trieste, like Egyptian potatoes.” Samer has invested €12 million in better organizing the fruit terminal. The goal is to disembark lorries from Turkey, which currently travel through the Balkans by road instead of by sea. In 2017, the terminal handled 70,000 tonnes of refrigerated products, including 45,000 tonnes of potatoes. It is hoped that traffic will continue to grow in the future thanks to the terminal’s relationship with its partner, the Turkish company U.N. Ro-Ro. Samer currently receives about a thousand lorries from Turkey, but there is a possibility that 30,000 lorries that take the road through the Balkans every year could be persuaded to choose the sea route.
“Traffic is now mainly seasonal: the potato trade lasts five months, and the peppers from Israel last two months. With Turkey, we could generate 12 months of continuous traffic.” The terminal is also aiming for container traffic, and for this reason it has forty outlets for reefers, in addition to 18,000 sqm of refrigerators and 22,000 of conventional warehouse space. The latter could also be converted into storage for perishable goods in the future. How does one attract lorries? “It is a matter of the quality of service and speed in expediting paperwork. A key step will be the creation of the single inspection window called for by the port reform.”