TOKYO -- In a first for leading Japanese logistics companies, Nippon Express and Yusen Logistics will share the use of refrigerated containers to offer smaller merchants low-cost shipping of fresh foods to elsewhere in Asia.
The companies will begin by offering regular service between Nagoya and the northern Taiwanese port city of Keelung. Refrigerated containers kept at 5 C will make the trip weekly, delivering fresh fruits and vegetables as well as sake produced in central Japan in as little as seven days. The companies hope to broaden the service to include produce grown elsewhere in Japan and offer deliveries to Hong Kong.
Shipping is cheaper than air transport, but smaller companies do not export products in sufficient bulk to charter an entire 20-foot container from a shipper. Flying their goods overseas has been the only economical choice for such merchants, even though it costs more.
Nippon Express and Yusen Logistics will charter the refrigerated containers and fill them with goods from multiple merchants. The pair can offer a shipping service that is up to 80% cheaper than air transport.
Both companies will seek out merchants to fill the containers. But to boost efficiency they will divide the operation of the warehouses for receiving and sorting goods and for customs clearance, with Nippon Express responsible in Japan and Yusen Logistics handling Taiwan.
Asia is experiencing a Japanese cuisine boom, and fresh fruits and vegetables produced in Japan are increasingly popular, as is Japanese sake. A cheaper way to ship fresh produce will boost food exports from Japan.