How the Port of Liverpool and Manchester Ship Canal are unlocking new sources of value in global supply chains

The Port of Liverpool is playing an increasingly important role in the food and drink supply chain of the UK. This pivotal role is not only related to its geographic position in the heart of Britain, but also its proximity to a major proportion of the UK’s population and food processing plants.

Its recently opened Fresh Produce Terminal has transformed the supply of fruits, juices and vegetables across the UK, providing a northern gateway and significantly reducing the costs, carbon and congestion impacts of the more traditional method of importing these cargos by road from the UK’s southern ports.

Major food manufacturers importing through Liverpool include Heinz, AB World Foods and Kingsland Wines – who barge wine along the Manchester Ship Canal and then bottle on behalf of a number of retailers, including Tesco.

However, of most interest is the way in which food production has been integrated onto the Port estate. The most recent example of this is New Britain Palm Oil (NBPO) refinery, an £18 million investment in the UK’s first refinery dedicated solely to sustainable and traceable palm products.

Andy Martin, chief estates Surveyor for Peel Ports Mersey, said “This facility is a perfect example of port-centric processing opportunities at the Port of Liverpool. Our philosophy is to integrate the

deep-water facilities of the port to enable bulk imports of raw materials and feed them directly into a manufacturing process. We are able to deliver bespoke, secure buildings across the Port estate within 12 months and occupancy terms can be flexible to support business growth. We developed a close partnership with NBPO right through the planning and construction programme, ensuring the plant was delivered on time and in full accordance with both parties’ expectations.”

However, this is not the only such example on the Port estate. Liverpool’s grain terminal is connected to a number of manufacturing facilities including DACSA’s corn mill, Cargill’s soya refinery and ADM’s wheat mill. Indeed, some of the oils manufactured on the port estate are then fed into a secondary bottling operation, owned by KTC Edibles.

Stephen Carr, Peel Ports Mersey’s head of business development, explained the commercial logic: “By linking the imported feedstock to the processing plant at a port; entire transport legs are eliminated from the supply chain. By doing this at Liverpool, a port at the heart of the UK’s consumption, there is a further reduction in road miles, saving costs and reducing the carbon footprint of the end-to-end supply chain.”

This however, is only the start. Peel Ports, the owner of the Port of Liverpool and the Manchester Ship Canal has recently launched its Port Master Plan for consultation. The Master Plan outlines a 20-year vision for the integration of Port and Ship Canal, including a new deep-water container terminal, additional land for Port-linked manufacturing and further warehousing developments.

Carr said: “Global supply chains have to reduce both cost and carbon in the years ahead. These facilities enable both as they maximise the use of water and minimise the use of road.”

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