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’The challenge is the vulnerability’

If you ever thought moving fish, meat, fruit and vegetables halfway across the world was a simple question of a-to-b logistics, you should meet the Head of Commercial and Markets, Maersk Line Reefer, Ole Schack Petersen. To him transit times, reefer containers, temperature regulation and ‘controlled atmosphere’ are everyday terms that have occupied his professional universe for more than 35 years.

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Ole literally knows about all there is to know about the ideal transportation of perishable goods across the world oceans. After setting foot on a reefer ship for the first time in 1978, he has never left the industry and when you sit across him today, this is no doubt the passion for keeping his promises to reefer customers all over the globe and ensuring perfect food quality to the end consumers is completely intact.
The closeness with the customers and the constant challenge of landing on the right side of a thin line between failure and success in the industry are his main drivers.

The instant feedback
“You can only survive in this line of business, if you are absolutely committed and absolutely genuine. You have to keep your promises and if for some reason you can’t you have to be completely honest and open about it.” The huge responsibility of creating ideal transport conditions for commodities with a short lifespan and by this effort keeping businesses all over the world financially afloat, doesn’t keep Ole sleepless. He thrives on it. “You get a feedback about how you are doing very, very fast in this line of business. We are talking about produce that stands no failure, no delay. You have to be accurate and you have to deliver. To me, the professional challenge is that whole vulnerability,” he explains.

New technology, new opportunities
The reefer veteran feels that he has literally seen the continents of the world grow closer during his lifetime in the business. The development of modern vessels and advanced reefer technology means that foods which could never had made their final destination in good condition even just a decade ago, are now being shipped out of emerging markets with a subsequent massive socio-economic impact.

“It has been and still is amazing to see these immense steps forward for the export opportunities. Looking at it in that perspective, it becomes even clearer that producing and exporting for instance fruit is never just a question of the fruit and the simple logistics. People’s life opportunities and livelihoods are literally on the line. In the reefer business, that’s what we promote and protect,” says Ole.

Ole Schack Petersen is one of Maersk Line’s reefer experts who are participating in the industry’s largest expo Fruit Logistica in Berlin from February 5 – 7.

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