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Maersk is set to build the first state-of-the-art cold store in St Petersburg designed to handle fresh food imports into Russia.

A ground-breaking ceremony took place earlier this week at the PNK Park Sofiyskaya KAD in St Petersburg on the three-chamber facility, which will cover 23,700sq metres offering over 30,000 pallet locations, with 35 docks able to serve a daily throughput of up to 200 trucks.

The maximum storage capacity will be more than 50,000 tonnes and the fully Maersk-operated warehouse will employ over 200 employees.

Its anchor customer is fruit company Fyffes, which is set to occupy some 40% of the facility, with the remainder of the capacity “available for other customers from the fresh and frozen produce segment”.

The three chambers of facility will offer separate storage for frozen produce at -25°C; chilled products at between +2°C and +8°C; and a chamber dedicated to bananas, which require a specific temperature of +13°C.

“Today’s ground-breaking is a very important milestone in Fyffes’ strategy to grow our business in Russia. As the largest importer of bananas in Europe, Fyffes is delighted to partner with Maersk in this new warehouse development, which will increase our ripening capacity in Russia to over 200,000 boxes of bananas per week,” said Fyffes chairman David McCann.

In 2018, imports of fruit to Russia increased, with banana imports going up by 1%, citrus fruits by 7.4% and apples by nearly 13.5% compared with the year before, while fruit imports are expected to continue to increase over the coming years.

Since 2017, Russia has been the second largest importer of bananas in the world, after the United States, and surpassing Germany.

“I am extremely proud of this project, which is the first such cold store on the Russian market. As Maersk, we are committed to helping our reefer customers in all aspects of their supply chain needs. Those needs go well beyond transportation, and storage is a crucial element we are now addressing,” said Zsolt Katona, managing director for Eastern Europe at Maersk.

“Maersk is transforming to deliver integrated end-to-end solutions for our customers’ supply chains. While growing our Ocean activities in line with the market, investing in unbroken cold chain offerings is one of the levers we pull to accelerate our non-Ocean business and grow ahead of the market,” added Maersk chief executive Søren Skou.

The development came on the same Russian trip on which Mr Skou met with deputy transport minister and head of Federal Maritime and River Transport agency, Yuriy Tsvetkov, to sign a Memorandum of Understanding to launch Maersk’s TradeLens blockchain project in the country.

The MoU includes using St Petersburg as a pilot platform for the blockchain platform Maersk has developed in combination with IBM.

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