From fuel to food

The food hub aims to attract various food companies. Credit: Port of Rotterdam The food hub aims to attract various food companies. Credit: Port of Rotterdam

COMMENT: Rotterdam’s recent announcement that it is developing a 60-hectare ‘Food Hub’ at the entrance to Maasvlakte is interesting, both because of the concept and of the history of the site, writes Peter de Langen.

The industrial site will be developed to offer optimal facilities for ‘agrofood’ companies and will have multiple berths for container vessels and inland vessels, with special facilities for refrigerated cargo. The idea is that containers arriving at the Maasvlakte container terminals will move by ship to the food hub, while direct (shortsea) connections to the food hub are also planned. The intra-port container flow by water is interesting as the road distance between the deepsea container terminals and the site of the food hub is less than 15 kilometres.

The concept also entails locating warehouses and processing facilities next to the quays. The first tenant is a fruit juice company that will produce juice for the European market in Rotterdam, instead of relying on imports.

This development is interesting in that the ‘food hub’ concept is based on a ‘launching customer’ and broadened to create synergies through co-locating related food companies. Thus, the food hub is not a one-off deal for one customer but aims to attract various food companies. Conceptually, this approach can be positioned as the middle ground between a fully ‘responsive’ port development, in which tailor-made deals are created based on the individual demands of customers, and a ‘design approach’ in which the port development company designs the future land use and tries to attract companies that fit with their design. The in-between approach followed by port of Rotterdam is in my view better than the ‘responsive’ or ‘design’ approach.

The development is also noteworthy given the history of the site: it has been idle for 50 years during which time various potential projects have tanked, including a steel terminal, a chemical plant, an LNG terminal and a large-scale tank terminal. This history of the site is a very clear case to underline the need for sufficiently ‘responsive’ port development.



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