In late November the fruit-growing industry waited nervously as quality-grade produce sat in the port of Cape Town, getting older by the day. It was the beginning of the export season, a time when farmers rush to get their fruit to overseas markets. But there was a problem. Out at sea there was a traffic jam: reefer ships, meant to take the fruit to market, sat anchored as they waited their turn to come in to port.

“We couldn’t get [the produce] from the ports into the vessels. We needed to move the product through the [cold] chain in two to three weeks, not four or five weeks,” Anton Rabe, executive director of the deciduous fruit body Hortgro, tells the FM...

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