MEATS from New Zealand destined for the European Union (EU) markets can now transit through Singapore, by means of SATS Coolport, Asia's first on-airport perishable cargo handling centre.
Announcing this on Monday, leading provider of gateway services and food solutions SATS said it is the world's first ground handler to receive EU approval to provide the transhipment services for meat.
The approval as an authorised centre was strongly supported by International Enterprise (IE) Singapore and the Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority (AVA). Both agencies helped facilitate the process by engaging the authorities in both the EU and New Zealand.
SATS can now break down and reconsolidate meat shipments from New Zealand for redistribution to the EU markets in its Coolport's temperature-controlled premises. It can also present customers with cost-effective multi-modal freight solutions that give them a competitive edge by hastening the sale of perishable products to the European market, it said.
Earlier this year, SATS successfully handled its first two batches of air-sea transhipment of lamb products from New Zealand - one to Britain and the other to Germany.
But the approval is not just limited to lamb products. It also extends to other meat types such as beef, pork, poultry, and wild and farmed game meat originating from New Zealand.
Agricultural products constituted New Zealand's largest export to the EU last year. Of this, meat, mostly lamb, formed the largest agricultural export by value (NZ$1.5 billion or S$1.47 billion), followed by fruit and wine.
The process of getting the EU approval took more than two years - starting from July 2014. SATS Coolport was officially listed as the authorised ground handler and establishment for meat products from New Zealand to the EU and Britain in October last year. And it was only in January that SATS successfully handled its first transhipment of lamb products to Britain.
Group director for transport and logistics at IE Singapore Law Chung Ming said traditionally New Zealand would send its meat products by sea to the EU and that took "more than 40 days, reducing the shelf life of the meats to just two weeks".
"Airfreight would be 40 times more expensive than shipping the meat. So with the multi-modal transhipment through Singapore, New Zealand is able to airfreight the meats here and we will ship them to EU. It takes between 18 and 20 days to get there, doubling the shelf life to a month and with a shorter cash cycle, it allows savings of up to 60 per cent vis-a-vis air," he said.
This newly approved trade route for meat products presents many opportunities for Singapore, and SATS can establish itself as a consolidation hub and redistribution centre for perishable products from south-west Pacific to the rest of the world.
It also helps to increase New Zealand's capacity to export more lamb shipments to the EU. With this new trade flow, SATS is looking at about 10 per cent increase in lamb shipments over the next two years.
With its extensive network in the region and tight connectivity between its cargo operations, SATS is well-positioned to provide end-to-end airfreight-handling solutions. It also plays a vital part in enhancing trade with speedier and seamless movement of goods, including perishables, across continents, Mr Law added.
Alex Hungate, president and chief executive officer of SATS, said: "Multi-modal transportation enables exporters to transport products with greater speed and economy to Europe. SATS Coolport helps change the dynamics of exports for countries such as New Zealand."
He added that the partnership with IE Singapore and AVA has been integral in expanding its market by creating benefits for both importers and exporters.