Live lobsters, once thought to be immune from modal shift to oceanfreight, could soon lose their places at airports connecting the trans-Atlantic as new ocean containers with aquarium-like environments may make the long-journey by sea a possibility for live sea creatures.
France-based CMA CMG’s new “aquaviva” containers are designed specifically to cut into airfreight’s lucrative lobster transport market along trade lanes between North America and Europe, using containers that can control water temperature and oxygen levels.
It is well known that, as consumer preferences change and technology improves, “modal shift” has occasionally taken a bite of airfreight’s market share for the transportation of various commodities. This is a theme which resurfaced at this year’s Cargo Facts Asia conference held last week in Hong Kong. Traditionally, as one commodity or business segment has made the shift from airfreight to seafreight, a new segment rises in its place — cell phones replaced laptop computers, and now e-commerce-related parcels are replacing much of the general freight.
Live lobsters, on the other hand, which have been the bread-and-butter of many trans-Atlantic routes, were thought to be immune from modal shift due to the necessity of shipping the animals alive, thus requiring expedited delivery. But is that still the case?
Aquaviva is the result of four years of collaboration between refrigerated container specialist CMA CGM and water purification and filtration company EMYG Environment & Aquaculture. The container itself utilizes a two-compartment system, which separates the filtration apparatus from the lobster hold, and can be filled with water from the lobster’s natural environment. This, in turn, enables the container to maintain the flow of clean, temperature-controlled water and oxygen levels — a system that claims to reduce mortality to around zero percent. Oxygen deprivation is still a major challenge for airfreight, and is responsible for mortality rates reaching as high as 18 percent.
Although specialized containers still will be unable to compete with the speed of airfreight, this serves as yet another example of how the oceanfreight industry has set its sights on airfreight commodities. If live lobsters take to the sky in fewer numbers, what then might replace them?