A senior representative of CAI International Inc. (NYSE: CAI) spoke on the company’s focus on refrigerated container units in the retail supply chain at the 2019 LINK supply chain conference.
“Refrigeration is a consumer-driven sector,” said Brian Akers, vice president of international logistics at CAI. “You have more expansion in the industry because more food imports are coming in. We’re focusing on a few customers who are bringing lemons from Valencia, Spain into the U.S. Growing conditions in the U.S. are not right for fruits like guava, and a lot of crops come from Latin America. We’re focusing on those trade lanes to bring those products [fruits] to the U.S.”
CAI International, based in San Francisco, operates a fleet of intermodal containers for lease, sale and logistics operations. CAI operated around 1.6 million container equivalent units (CEU) and 7,279 rail cars in 2018 according to the company’s press release.
“CAI’s fairly new in the industry,” said Akers, referencing CAI’s recent entry in logistics services. “We’re trying to break into certain vertices. One target is retail.”
Akers said that CAI’s focus on moving fruit to the U.S. was based on increased retail demand for specialized beverages. “Stores like Starbucks and Whole Foods are focusing on niche juice flavors that are now being enhanced in drinks.”
Akers also said that refrigerated container units have a range of applications for different products, including medicine. “The refrigerated container unit is being driven by the pharmaceutical industry. You are going to see more pharmaceuticals being exported and imported,” according to Akers.
“The additional opportunities for customers to start moving refrigerated freight is driving more of an economy for refrigerated goods. The speed of the industry [refrigerated transportation] is driving the scale of the industry.”
Akers said that CAI had received an order for around 2,000 refrigerated container units. According to CAI’s press release, the company sold 2,146 railcars, 30 percent of its railcar fleet – valued at $200 million – on February 26.