Farmers laud Timaru port deal

AUDREY MALONE
Last updated 05:00 03/07/2014

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Federated Farmers says PrimePort Timaru has the potential to be to the South Island what Tauranga is to the North Island.

A deal between Port of Tauranga and Kotahi announced last week sees the potential shipping container volume through the Timaru port increasing from 20,000 TEU (20 foot equivalent units) to more than 80,000 TEU a year.

Federated Farmers South Canterbury provincial president Ivon Hurst said it was an amazing opportunity to develop South Canterbury into a major logistics hub.

"For Canterbury's exporters it means avoiding all of our shipping eggs being in Port Lyttelton's basket.

"We always knew PrimePort was a jewel but now it is sparkling bright," Hurst said.

He said the strength of primary industries in the area made it a sound location for export hub, especially for those concerned for the environment.

"With excellent rail access, Timaru offers exporters maximum freight efficiency with the lowest carbon footprint."

Hurst said Kotahi is owned by two farmer-owned co-operatives, Fonterra and Silver Fern Farms, and he is excited this deal means PrimePort will play a leading role in exporting South Island farm product to the rest of the world.

"We can peg this as another positive outcome of the Opuha water storage scheme since it has drought-proofed swathes of our province and underpinned primary growth," he said.

Shipping company Maersk would be reappearing at the port as part of the deal.

It had discontinued shipping to PrimePort after a national shipping agreement saw the company reduce the number of ports it visited in New Zealand in a cost-saving measure.

Maersk New Zealand managing director Gerard Morrison said the company only went where it made good business sense. Coming back to Timaru now, he said, made good business sense.

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