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The revolutionary journey of blueberry

Raben Group - the game changer in fruit transport, or the revolutionary journey of northern highbush blueberry

The journey Columbus undertaken westward was a historical breakthrough and changed the world's fate forever. 500 years later, a container full of fruits made a return journey, perhaps a less significant one, but it surely set out new standards in logistics. Raben Group has just completed pilot deliveries of high blueberry from Chile to Poland, combining controlled temperature sea freight and road transport. Thanks to the synergetic cooperation between Seafreight Raben Logistics Polska and Fresh Logistics teams the client was offered a single product for the entire supply chain, leading from western shore of South America to the heart of Poland. The tests proved so positive that there are already plans to establish regular cooperation.

The northern highbush blueberry is becoming increasing popular among Poles, both consumers and growers. The fruit's domestic production has been rising for several years, making Poland the second largest producer in EU and the sixth one globally[1], highly praised for its produce quality. Polish consumers buy high blueberry all year long and understandably: the fruit is not only tasty and very healthy (contains massive amounts of antioxidants and can actually be considered one of the superfoods)[2], but also a quick and convenient snack.

Sadly, the season for high blueberry in Poland ends quickly. In the months when local, fresh fruit are inaccessible, the demand is satiated with fruit imported from countries as distant as Chile. Delicate and easily spoiled berries, not just blueberries, but also raspberries and strawberries, spend a big part of their travel on plane when imported here. The obvious advantages of this transport mode are short delivery times and product freshness, but the heavy carbon footprint and high cost are unavoidable. On the other hand, sea freight - a more time consuming, but also a more eco-friendly and economical solution - has been traditionally used for the more “solid” fruit (apples, citrus, bananas or pineapples) that are far better suited for transport that takes weeks, during which conditions slowing down the ripening process are ensured for biologically active goods.

Raben Group has stepped in to change the rules of the game by developing a ground breaking “all-in” solution that is convenient for clients, friendly to the environment and cost efficient, all while ensuring the product's high quality. As one of the first logistics operators in the market Raben Group has proposed a unique intermodal transport service from a single provider, where the sea freight covered by Seafreight Raben Logistics Polska has been combined with fresh produce transport offered by Fresh Logistics.

A truly one of a kind project, since the standard procedure consists in importing fruit (but not only fruit, as it also covers 90% of goods reloaded in the Rotterdam harbour) by two companies, one handling the sea route, the other one responsible for road transport. Each company specializes in its respective core business and typically cannot handle other stages professionally. Although both companies cooperate and their competences are supplementary, they are still two, separate organisations wasting time in agreeing terms and conditions and fighting for mark ups. This may negatively impact the efficiency with which services are provided and their final prices.

Meanwhile, Raben Group handles all elements in this logistics puzzle themselves. The new routes were put to trial at the end of 2019 and into 2020. In the last days of December 2019, 20 pallets stacked with high blueberry crates (18,448.80 kg) were loaded onto a ship departing from Chile. They arrived in Rotterdam harbour and, in a record-breaking time, after just two days, they were unloaded into the client’s warehouse in Poland. A week later, another container holding these fruit, began the same journey.

Obviously, many restrictive conditions must be satisfied when transporting such delicate, fresh fruit at such a distance. Cleanliness of the means of transportation is key in shipping food and has to be ensured. The entire load must be adequately secured and distributed (high and heavy pallets are used for transporting fruit). Proper temperature must be ensured all along the route, which Raben guarantees with reefer containers for transporting goods in controlled temperature and trailers for fresh products. Finally, critical points along the route, such as unloading from the ship and reloading from the container to the truck, must be secured.

As already mentioned, Raben is a trailblazer in import solutions. A somewhat risky activity, but the profits are more than promising. The company is planning to offer sea transport combined with trucks waiting to be loaded with the freshly imported goods, which requires flexibility to adapt to the arrival of the “seaborne warehouse” that may simply be delayed and whose entry into port is subject to change until the very end. Still, once all stages of the operation are aligned, the delivery time may be reduced by 4-5 days. Fresh Logistics trucks arrive when the approaching ships are ready, which translates into a massive competitive edge. The key to success in such services is communication and flexibility on both sides.

Cooperation within a group means that all interested affiliates reap benefits. Fresh Logistics is seeking new international clients and is naturally attracted to fruit and vegetable suppliers. Now, having entered into closer cooperation with Seafreight Raben Logistics Polska, the specialist in transporting fresh food can approach a whole new group of clients - importers and distributors of fruit from distant parts of the world, eager to ship in vast volumes of goods. The growing consumption of fruit and vegetables by Poles is making the situation even better[3]

The advantages of this approach are numerous, also from the client's perspective. Raben ensures control over the load, handles customs clearance and marketing authorisations for the goods. A single business combines, in a unique and efficient way, a road transport specialist and a sea transport organisation. Seafreight Raben Logistics Polska and Fresh Logistics teams cooperate transparently as partners and present a cohesive offer to clients who receive a single, final product from Raben Group – a delivery of fruit from South America to Poland, in this case.

The trial import of fruit from Chile has been a success and everything spells that the cooperation will be regular, with one container shipped per week for this particular client. But more importantly, the modest northern highbush blueberry proved to be an accomplished trailblazer, a pioneer setting out the road for other fruit. Since January, Raben has completed several shipments of Egyptian oranges, from Damietta, via Rotterdam to Bronisze, near Warsaw. This client has also already declared to enter into cooperation for several months. We can be confident that this is just the beginning of this service in Raben Group.

[1]Tygodnik Gospodarczy PIE nr 29/2019, 07.08.2019, http://pie.net.pl/wp-content/uploads/2019/08/Tygodnik_PIE_29-19.pdf


[3]Rocznik Statystyczny Rzeczypospolitej Polskiej 2019, GUS, Warszawa 2019, stat.gov.pl/obszary-tematyczne/roczniki-statystyczne/roczniki-statystyczne/rocznik-statystyczny-rzeczypospolitej-polskiej-2019,2,19.html.


Dawid Graczyk

Seafreight Branch Manager

Raben Logistics Polska


Antoni Zbytniewski

Key Account Manager

Fresh Logistics Polska