Last November MCI also announced it would start offering in 2019 a product called Sekstant that would relay information about reefer containers as they are in transit.
“MCI’s strategy is to grow in cold chain where our Star Cool technology is a clear leader. This growth requires focused investment in the best products and services,” said Sean Fitzgerald, chief executive officer of MCI. “Putting all of MCI’s resources on the cold chain business will ensure sustainable growth and continued investment in the best products and services for our customers.
“While the market for dry containers has been challenged and has been under enormous pressure for some time, reefer volumes continue to grow due to global demand for fresh produce and other commodities,” Fitzgerald said.
However, Maersk also closed a factory in Chile this summer dedicated to building refrigerated containers, just three years after opening it. MCI manufactures reefer containers and the Star Cool refrigeration units at its remaining factory in Qingdao, China.
Reefer containers are built by marrying an insulated container to a refrigeration unit such as those made by MCI. An industry expert said that the Carrier unit of United Technologies manufactures more than half the refrigeration units, followed by MCI and Japan's Daikin. Ingersoll-Rand's Thermo King is another manufacturer.
An industry expert estimated that a total of about 275,000 TEUs of reefer units were sold in 2018, up from 210,000 TEUs in 2017 and 145,000 TEUs in 2016, when production fell sharply from 270,000 TEUs the prior year. His estimate was that in 2018 CIMC made about 58 percent of reefers (as measured in TEUs), and MCI about 27 percent, Singmas about 8 percent, and Guangdong Fuwa Engineering Group, about 6 percent.