Each year, Gearbulk carries about 400,000 tonnes of orange juice from Brazil to Europe and the US, substantial growth since it first entered the juice business in 1998.
In the 1980s, Brazil overtook the US as the world's leading producer of orange juice. Today, thanks to its 165 million orange trees, more than half the world's production is sourced in Brazil. Of that, 98% is exported, 14% of which 14% is shipped on four specially equipped Gearbulk vessels, Ibis Arrow, Mozu Arrow, Jacamar Arrow and Harefield.
All four vessels are combination carriers, fitted with self-contained juice tanks in some of their holds. The tanks, which have been purpose-built to fit the holds, can be easily lifted in or out for loading and discharge. In July 2012, three of Ibis Arrow's holds were converted to be occupied by juice tanks for a total capacity of more than 30,000 metric tonnes per voyage.
Orange is transported in two ways, as frozen concentrate or, more recently, in increasing volumes of pure orange juice in response to consumer demand for 'not from concentrate.' Both products require special care.
Tank temperatures are computer-controlled and closely monitored throughout each voyage. New technology enables a link with shore-based systems so the tanks can also serve as terminal storage facilities between voyages.
With its long standing relationships with major juice shippers and its even longer standing connections with Brazil, Gearbulk is ideally positioned to grow as the sector itself grows.