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Fresh Carriers Co. trials marine biofuel with New Zealand kiwifruit marketer Zespri  

The Kakariki (Photo: Zespri)

Kiwifruit marketer Zespri announced June 11 that one of its international shipping partners, Fresh Carriers Co. Ltd., successfully completed a trial using marine biofuel in a charter vessel operating between Hong Kong and New Zealand.


The purpose of the trial was to test the performance of the ship’s engines when burning biofuel.

The vessel Kakariki bunkered the biofuel in Hong Kong at the end of May before starting its voyage south, arriving at the Port of Tauranga at the weekend.


The vessel was powered by a blend of marine biofuel made from used cooking oil.


The ship bunkered the biofuel in Hong Kong because there is none available in New Zealand.


“If and when biofuel does become available in New Zealand, it will present more opportunities for Zespri’s chartered ships to burn this low-emission fuel,” Zespri stated.

Jason Te Brake, Zespri’s chief operating officer, said the biofuel trial by FCC is a collaborative step forward for the industry as it seeks to decarbonize and future proof through innovative solutions such as low-emissions shipping.


“Shipping plays a critical role in New Zealand’s export-driven economy, carrying 99 percent of New Zealand’s trade by volume and around 80 percent by value,” Te Brake said. “Globally, the sector is responsible for around 80 percent of worldwide-trade volumes and 70 percent of worldwide-trade value.”


Every year, the company ships its Zespri kiwifruit to consumers in more than 50 markets around the world.

“International shipping accounts for around 43 percent of Zespri’s emissions footprint for fruit sold globally,” Te Brake said. “This makes up a larger part of our emissions compared to other primary-sector exporters given the low-emissions nature of our product. Last year, the industry used 57 charter-vessel sailings during the season, plus another 13,300 containers, shipping over 619,200 metric tons of New Zealand kiwifruit to our markets.”


Te Brake added that, with Zespri having limited ability to directly reduce shipping emissions itself, the company is working with key shipping and distribution partners like FCC to increase the efficiency of its shipping and logistics and make the transition to low-emissions fuels.


“The biofuel trial with FCC is an important step forward and has given us both important technical insights, with the Kakariki monitored throughout its journey to make sure the biofuel performed well with no unforeseen technical issues,” Te Brake said. “It’s fantastic to see it dock successfully in Tauranga.”

FCC Director Toshiyuki Koga said FCC was proud to see the Kakariki, which is the company’s first vessel to trial biofuel, arrive safely in Tauranga.

“We have been in discussions with Zespri for a number of months about carrying out this trial and are now looking forward to further biofuel trials using other FCC vessels,” Koga said. “We are also considering a northbound trial taking Zespri kiwifruit to market this season. Biofuel supply chains are complex and there is still work to be done to ensure stable supply, however this trial is a first step towards decarbonization with Zespri.”


Te Brake added, “New Zealand’s place at the bottom of the South Pacific Ocean means accessing low-emissions fuel options is a challenge, and we are actively seeking partners to shore up access to more sustainable fuels to meet our ambitious targets and the expectations of our customers and consumers. It’s been positive working with our long-term partner FCC recognizing the importance of decarbonizing and future proofing the industry. This trial is a step forward and we’re pleased to be on the path to introducing low-emissions fuels to carry Zespri kiwifruit to our markets around the world in the future.”



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