More Temperature-Sensitive Medicines Moving by Ocean

Over the years, the ocean freight market has been fraught with capacity and wildly fluctuating rates. By 2016, the market underwent a series of consolidations including a bankruptcy of a major container carrier. In addition, rates fell to historic lows but began to recover towards the end of the year.

Meanwhile, air freight rates remain high and capacity is tightening. Concerns in the way some air freight providers have handled temperature-sensitive pharmaceuticals still remain fresh with shippers as they look to shift some, if not all, pharmaceuticals to other modes of transport.

Growth in Ocean Freight More pharmaceutical shippers are looking to ocean freight as an alternative to the more expensive air freight. Datamyne, an ocean freight data provider, indicates in terms of TEUs, U.S. imported refrigerated pharmaceutical goods within harmonized code 30, increased 18.1% from 2015 to 2016.

Not surprising, the major port of entry for both 2015 and 2016 is the New York/New Jersey port with over 30% of import TEUs. It is not surprising in that the majority of pharmaceutical companies are located closer to this port. Perhaps slightly more surprising is that the Port of Charleston is the second largest import port for refrigerated pharmaceuticals with a little more than 20% of total TEUs.

Both the New York/New Jersey and Charleston ports have invested in cold chain facilities but primarily targeting the food and beverage segment. Even though these facilities are temperature-controlled, the handling of products is certainly different. But, one thing that both ports have made significant investments in are reefer plugs and racks allowing containers to maintain required temperatures once offloaded from vessels.

Read the full Pharma IQ article here.

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