FCC’s ship completes biofuel trial between Hong Kong and New Zealand

Japanese company Fresh Carriers Company (FCC), together with its international partner Zespri, has completed a trial using biofuel in a charter vessel operating between Hong Kong and New Zealand.

Zespri/Fresh Carriers Company

The purpose of the trial was to test the performance of the ship’s engines when burning biofuel.

The vessel Kakariki bunkered the biofuel in Hong Kong at the end of last month before starting its voyage south and arrived at the Port of Tauranga.

The ship was powered by a blend of biofuel, which is made from used cooking oil.

According to Zespri, Kakariki bunkered the biofuel in Hong Kong because there is none available in New Zealand. If and when biofuel does become available in New Zealand, it will present more opportunities for Zespri’s chartered ships to burn this low-emission fuel, the company highlighted.

Zespri Chief Operating Officer Jason Te Brake said the biofuel trial by FCC is a collaborative step forward for the industry as it seeks to decarbonize and future-proof through innovative solutions such as low-emissions shipping.

“Shipping plays a critical role in New Zealand’s export driven economy, carrying 99 percent of New Zealand’s trade by volume and around 80 percent by value. Globally, the sector is responsible for around 80 percent of world-wide trade volumes and 70 percent of worldwide trade value,” Te Brake stated.

“Every year we ship our Zespri Kiwifruit to consumers in more than 50 markets around the world. International shipping accounts for around 43 percent of Zespri’s emissions footprint for fruit sold globally – this makes up a larger part of our emissions compared to other primary sector exporters given the low-emissions nature of our product. Last year, the industry used 57 charter vessel sailings during the season, plus another 13,300 containers, shipping over 619,200 tonnes of New Zealand kiwifruit to our markets.”

“With Zespri having limited ability to directly reduce shipping emissions ourselves, we’re working with key shipping and distribution partners like FCC to increase the efficiency of our shipping and logistics, and make the transition to low emissions fuels.”

He added that the biofuel trial with FCC is an important step forward and has given both companies important technical insights, with the Kakariki monitored throughout its journey to make sure the biofuel performed well with no unforeseen technical issues.

“We have been in discussions with Zespri for a number of months about carrying out this trial and are now looking forward to further biofuel trials using other FCC vessels. We are also considering a northbound trial taking Zespri Kiwifruit to market this season. Biofuel supply chains are complex and there is still work to be done to ensure stable supply, however this trial is a first step towards decarbonisation with Zespri,” FCC Director Toshiyuki Koga said.

“It’s been positive working with our long term partner FCC recognising the importance of decarbonising and future proofing the industry. This trial is a step forward and we’re pleased to be on the path to introducing low emissions fuels to carry Zespri Kiwifruit to our markets around the world in the future,” Te Brake concluded.