Have you ever paused to consider the journey that brings your favorite fruit to your local supermarket’s shelves? Take the banana, for instance.
The wildly popular Cavendish variety of banana, which is sold in markets across Europe and North America, is grown in tropical and subtropical countries in Asia, Africa and Latin America. Its supply chain is complex, with numerous challenges. Among them, how to ensure that the delicate fruit arrives in pristine condition and in the perfect state of ripeness from the distant plantation where it was grown?
Speed and temperature are just two of the factors that must be considered at every stage of transport. Equipment in ports needs to be reliable, fast and capable of handling sensitive cargo. Therefore, it is no surprise that Konecranes’ Gottwald mobile harbor cranes are in demand for handling fruit palettes at many terminals.
For example, a diesel-electric Konecranes’ Gottwald Model 4 mobile harbor crane is currently in operation at HHLA Frucht- und Kühl-Zentrum’s multi-purpose terminal in Hamburg.
The mobile harbor crane can be moved on the quayside, and has a maximum lifting capacity of 100 tons and an outreach of up to 46 meters. Its high working speed translates to high productivity – a critical factor when handling fruit like bananas, which must be kept at a low temperature.
“With the Konecranes’ Gottwald crane, we can efficiently unload not only the growing number of containers that are now being transported aboard fruit vessels, but also fruit pallets,” says Axel Hoeckrich, Managing Director of HHLA Frucht- und Kühl-Zentrum GmbH.
“Since the crane is very versatile, it also increases our ability to develop new business activities. With this state-of-the-art crane, we are strengthening the fruit port of Hamburg, which is already one of the most important sites for fruit handling and trade in Germany,” Hoeckrich says.
Bananas are the world’s most widely exported fresh fruit and a major staple food for millions of people in developing countries. By value of production, they are the fourth most important food crop after wheat, rice and corn.
The Cavendish variety accounts for about half of global banana production. Two reasons for its dominance are its long shelf-life and ease of transport.
Because the monoculture of genetically identical Cavendish banana plants worldwide makes the variety vulnerable to a disease outbreak, attempts are being made to create an alternative through hybridization and genetic engineering.
Text: Patricia Ongpin Steffa