Looking inside the box : evidence from the containerization of commodities and the cold chain
Institute for Transport en Maritime Management (ITMMA)
Maritime policy and management. - London, 1997, currens
, p. 207-227
University of Antwerp
Conventional investigations about containerized transportation tend to overlook the goods being carried to focus upon the associated modes and terminals. Containerization is entering a new phase in its global diffusion and adoption by freight distribution systems. The emerging phase of containerization encompasses a complementarity with the commodity sector and the extraction of niche market opportunities to satisfy new demands. This phase is driven by a commodity-wise approach, which inherently creates an array of challenges. For instance, niche markets develop or disappear based on temporary market conditions, the balance of flows on trade routes, and the need for market size. Still, the nature of the commodities being carried is a fundamental element in the emerging containerization of commodities. This article aims at analyzing this emerging niche in the containerization process by looking inside the box. It particularly unravels the dynamics for a number of commodities and demonstrates which role the container fulfills in these commodity markets. The underlying factors that enable the growth or decline of commodity-based niche markets in containerization are discussed. It also looks at the dynamics of the specialized reefer market of cold chain logistics.