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Right Royal Celebration As Annual Channel Islands Exports Head for Markets

8th April 2017

#Farm2Ferry – The flow of famous food from the Channel Islands to Portsmouth International Port, the UK’s second busiest ferryport, has taken root as the season for Jersey Royal potatoes began at the end of March.

The seasonal export involves transporting the ‘Royals’ on board Condor Ferries. This requires ro-ro freighter Commodore Goodwill and ropax ferry, Commodore Clipper, pictured above in St. Helier, Jersey, by Afloat’s ferry correspondent Jehan Ashmore who also had taken a crossing Ben-My-Chree (similar to the 'Clipper') operated by the Isle of Man Steam Packet. See captain interview.

The legendary Channel Islands vegetable has been grown for the last 130 years and is so special it has been granted EU protection, much in the same way that Champagne has in France.

Between 30,000 - 40,000 tonnes of the delicious Jersey Royal potatoes are harvested annually, with the vast majority shipped to Portsmouth. It is an important export for Jersey, and a crucial crop for the twenty or so farmers who specialise in growing the potatoes in the island’s fertile soil.

As the Jersey Royal potatoes began their journey to England, in the opposite direction, a delicious and delicate cargo supply of chocolate Easter Eggs make the return trip. Most of the Easter Eggs bound for the Channel Islands has been sent from Portsmouth this year, making a vital contribution to celebrations and aides the tasty potato is another addition to a balanced diet!

Despite their close proximity to mainland France, up to 80% of all produce consumed and used on the Channel Islands is shipped from Portsmouth on Condor Ferries services. Along with temperature controlled food products, a vast array of other goods are shipped from Portsmouth every day to the Channel Islands. These include drink, clothing, furniture, cars and building products and equipment - in fact all the necessities of modern life.

Each night between 35 and 40 refrigerated trailers depart Portsmouth on board Commodore Goodwill, with another 10 or more on Commodore Clipper’s daytime ferry service. This ferry makes a first call to St. Peter Port, Guernsey, then onwards to St. Helier, Jersey. The return crossing from the largest of the Channel Islands is an overnight passage directly to Portsmouth.

 

 

Published in Ferry
Jehan Ashmore

About The Author

Jehan Ashmore

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Jehan Ashmore is a marine correspondent, researcher and photographer, specialising in Irish ports, shipping and the ferry sector serving the UK and directly to mainland Europe. Jehan also occasionally writes a column, 'Maritime' Dalkey for the (Dalkey Community Council Newsletter) in addition to contributing to UK marine periodicals. 

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Ferry & Car Ferry News The ferry industry on the Irish Sea, is just like any other sector of the shipping industry, in that it is made up of a myriad of ship operators, owners, managers, charterers all contributing to providing a network of routes carried out by a variety of ships designed for different albeit similar purposes.

All this ferry activity involves conventional ferry tonnage, 'ro-pax', where the vessel's primary design is to carry more freight capacity rather than passengers. This is in some cases though, is in complete variance to the fast ferry craft where they carry many more passengers and charging a premium.

In reporting the ferry scene, we examine the constantly changing trends of this sector, as rival ferry operators are competing in an intensive environment, battling out for market share following the fallout of the economic crisis. All this has consequences some immediately felt, while at times, the effects can be drawn out over time, leading to the expense of others, through reduced competition or takeover or even face complete removal from the marketplace, as witnessed in recent years.

Arising from these challenging times, there are of course winners and losers, as exemplified in the trend to run high-speed ferry craft only during the peak-season summer months and on shorter distance routes. In addition, where fastcraft had once dominated the ferry scene, during the heady days from the mid-90's onwards, they have been replaced by recent newcomers in the form of the 'fast ferry' and with increased levels of luxury, yet seeming to form as a cost-effective alternative.

Irish Sea Ferry Routes

Irrespective of the type of vessel deployed on Irish Sea routes (between 2-9 hours), it is the ferry companies that keep the wheels of industry moving as freight vehicles literally (roll-on and roll-off) ships coupled with motoring tourists and the humble 'foot' passenger transported 363 days a year.

As such the exclusive freight-only operators provide important trading routes between Ireland and the UK, where the freight haulage customer is 'king' to generating year-round revenue to the ferry operator. However, custom built tonnage entering service in recent years has exceeded the level of capacity of the Irish Sea in certain quarters of the freight market.

A prime example of the necessity for trade in which we consumers often expect daily, though arguably question how it reached our shores, is the delivery of just in time perishable products to fill our supermarket shelves.

A visual manifestation of this is the arrival every morning and evening into our main ports, where a combination of ferries, ro-pax vessels and fast-craft all descend at the same time. In essence this a marine version to our road-based rush hour traffic going in and out along the commuter belts.

Across the Celtic Sea, the ferry scene coverage is also about those overnight direct ferry routes from Ireland connecting the north-western French ports in Brittany and Normandy.

Due to the seasonality of these routes to Europe, the ferry scene may be in the majority running between February to November, however by no means does this lessen operator competition.

Noting there have been plans over the years to run a direct Irish –Iberian ferry service, which would open up existing and develop new freight markets. Should a direct service open, it would bring new opportunities also for holidaymakers, where Spain is the most visited country in the EU visited by Irish holidaymakers ... heading for the sun!

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