Western Cape Business News

Send  Share  RSS  Twitter  13 Sep 2012

FOOD & BEVERAGES: Capespan's Potential At Ports


Recent Western Cape Business News

A PRESENTATION at the Capespan AGM recently highlighted the potential of the company’s port terminal operations, FPT (Fresh Produce Terminals).

FPT is one of a handful of private companies in SA with port concessions with fruit terminals in Cape Town, Port Elizabeth, Durban and Maputo.

But the local operations are surprisingly operating at less than a third of full capacity – despite Capespan’s claims that FPT has notched up 50% of the overall fruit market share in recent years (entailing shipping one million pallets of fruit in the deciduous and citrus seasons to international markets).

The relative under-utilisation of these terminals means there is much scope for Capespan to build on FPT’s profitability.

The under- utilisation purportedly stems from a lease agreement with Transnet, which limits Capespan to loading fruit from cold storage facilities onto reefers. Unfortunately for Capespan fruit these days is mostly shipped in refrigerated containers onboard container ships. And moving containers falls in the ambit of the Transnet Port Authority…

The trick for FPT will be to sway Transnet to allow it to market other products through its terminals. Such an initiative could bring utilisation rates up to more acceptable levels.

Capespan already offers a number of add-on services at its terminals – including containerisation, stevedoring services and general cargo services (in Durban and Maputo).

In Capespan’s annual report MD Johan Dique said the strategy of the past few years to expand and grow the handling of general cargo through port facilities was continuing with great success.

The strategy of growing general cargo as well as to enter the containerised fruit logistics business will be continued for the foreseeable future.”

In the last financial year fruit pallets volumes moved by FPT declined by 19%, mainly as a result of the drop off in the traditional reefer sector (where FPT has a major market share). Dique said the strategy going forward would focus on a much longer part of the value chain – which would allow FPT to re-establish fruit volumes through the port facilities.

The fact that an industrial giant like Bidvest – which is well versed in the ways of the logistics sector – has aggressively pursued a shareholding in Capespan suggests these endeavours may well be successful.

Another big clue to the future potential of port terminals business is the fact that PSG aligned empowerment company, Thembeka Capital, has snaffled a strategic 20% stake in FPT. PSG controlled Zeder is already the biggest shareholder in Capespan with a 38% stake.

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