6 Major logistical factors driving up Malta’s costs (Part 2)

In part one, we highlighted 3 of the core logistical problems Malta is facing that are driving up costs. Briefly:

  • Reliance on the importation of food
  • Issues regarding imports from the UK, Italy and Germany
  • over 50% of refined petroleum comes from Russia

Below, we look at 3 other logistical challenges responsible for Malta’s rising prices.

Malta is paying up to 50% more than Tunis for imports from Italian ports

“We accept that fuel went up but why is there no transparency and why are the increases not the same between Mediterranean ports,” David Fleri Soler said.

The lack of an explanation of the increments in relation to market prices has raised suspicion that the situation – and Malta, in particular – is being taken advantage of.

China’s pursuit of zero-rated strategy

Malta already experienced a staggering 1,000 per cent increase in the cost of freight for China imports last year.

Now, the continued outbreak of new variants of COVID-19 has forced the Chinese authorities to instate strict restrictions resulting in the shutdown of major manufacturing units and ports.

This aggressive zero-COVID policy will have a prolonged impact on the global supply chains, says GlobalData, a leading data and analytics company.

The outcome? A global supply chain crisis that may not go away anytime soon.

Shortage of drivers due to pandemic-induced shortage of foreign workers has escalated labour costs

The impact of the coronavirus pandemic meant that many foreign workers either returned home or went to look for new opportunities elsewhere. But now that the economy is reopening, there are nowhere near enough workers around.

Tomas Mikalauskas, CEO of RecruitGiant, told MaltaToday that the main challenge recruiters are facing in dealing with this shortage is that travel remains difficult.

“This is not helped by the fact that Malta has not been not accepting vaccination certificates from certain countries like India where, pre-pandemic, we had set up training centres specifically to give workers the skills they need to work in Malta,” Tomas continued.

Solutions and conclusions

We don’t like to be a debbie downer, so we’ve written an article that contains simple but tried and tested strategies for Maltese businesses to overcome these challenges.

Meanwhile, if you feel we’ve missed an important problem, or have a solution you’d like to share, please let us know by sending us a message!

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We’ll be sharing more steps you can take to fortify your business against the repercussions of the global supply chains crisis in an upcoming article.

Let’s partner up!

FastDrop builds on the logistical expertise and resources of its parent company eCabs to make deliveries in Malta as easy and affordable as possible. Find out how we can help your business. Get in touch!

6 Major logistical factors driving up Malta’s costs (Part 1)

This month, a national survey published by the European Union confirmed what we’re all thinking: Maltese adults are very concerned about rising prices and the costs of living.

It’s easy to blame this entirely on what’s happening in Russia, and while it is a major factor, some of the problems we will highlight aren’t necessarily new.

Back in 2021, the eurobarometer national survey published on the 8th of April also had shown that rising prices and the cost of living were the issues of most concern among Maltese adults.

In addition, 30% of respondents said they expect the situation in Malta to get worse the next year.

They were right, and indeed, confidence in economic stability dropped further in 2022.

Disclaimer: We’re really fast, but we’re not magicians.

We do not have the power to solve these issues with just one article, but we believe that sharing a meaningful understanding of the core problems Malta is facing can help us improve our resilience, pinpoint effective solutions and make the right changes.

Below, we look at some of the most important logistical challenges responsible for Malta’s rising prices.

Malta imports roughly 80% of its food at a time when convergent disruptions have sent food prices soaring.

Ukraine is a critical food supply hub while Russia is the world’s largest exporter of fertilizers.

In Malta, fertiliser importation costs rose by average of 40%. Meanwhile, the Retail Price Index shows an increase of 5.24% in food prices in the 12 months to December, reflecting consumer complaints of rising living costs.

It’s important to note that these hikes occured before the war in Ukraine.

Ukraine and Russia together produce nearly 30 percent of the world’s traded wheat and 12 percent of its calories.

Products Malta imports from Ukraine include oats, maize starch and crude sunflower-seed oil.

Malta imports the bulk of its food from the Netherlands, Italy and the United Kingdom, but these countries themselves import a substantial amount of products from Russia.

For example, the Netherlands imports over €50 million in oil seed, oleagic fruits, grain, seed, fruits, and fertiliser from Russia.

Malta may not get most of its energy from Russia, but imports much of its products from countries that do

Russia accounts for about 40% of EU’s natural gas imports and 27% of crude oil imports. Energy is an input cost in every part of manufacturing.

Malta gets “only” around 17% of its power from the European grid, which means it’s not directly dependent on Russia for natural gas.

However, Malta relies on imports from the United Kingdom (18.47 percent), Italy (16.88 percent) and Germany (6.63 percent).

Unlike Italy and Germany, the United Kingdom is not reliant on Russia for energy, but trade with the United Kingdom has still become more expensive due to Brexit.

In 2020, Malta imported $3.46B in Refined Petroleum, the 1st most imported product in Malta.

$1.86B (over 50%) comes from Russia.

Petroleum products include gasoline, distillates such as diesel fuel and heating oil, jet fuel, petrochemical feedstocks, waxes, lubricating oils, and asphalt.

Freight and fuel prices rose by up to 20 percent over last year.

Meanwhile, the rise in the price of oil in Europe due to the war in Ukraine and its impact on the cost of freight vessels to Malta is affecting 70 per cent of the cargo in and out of the island.

David Fleri Soler, who heads the Malta Chamber’s logistics section and is leading the talks on behalf of importers, told Times of Malta the island is at a disadvantage in the EU.

“Malta is already disadvantaged because it is an island and the increase in fuel at the pump [in the EU] and extra costs on bunkers from the ferry lines put it at an even greater disadvantage compared to other EU countries,” Fleri Soler said.

Malta does not benefit from any preferential treatment due to its geographical position, which Fleri Soler said left the country “at the mercy of shipping lines”.


Click here to read the second part of our article where we look at causes beyond what’s happening in Ukraine.

Running a business in Malta? 4 Suggestions to Survive the Supply Chain Crisis

Do you operate a business in Malta? You might be spotting headlines with titles such as:

Assuming you’re a reasonable human being, this is likely not inspiring a whole lot of confidence in you.

In 2018, US and China started a trade war.

Between 2019 and 2021, a pandemic paralysed industry across the globe.

In 2022, we were all hoping for a year of sunshine and rainbows.

Instead, war between Russia and Ukraine gave our global supply chains another gut punch.

For a closer look at the logistical problems Malta is facing, check out our article outlining the 6 major logistical problems driving up Malta’s costs.

We want to be clear, none of our solutions will eliminate the need for systemic changes to economic policies.

Our goal here is to equip you with strategies that will help you build resistance.

If you’re ready to focus on the solutions, here’s how small businesses can manage the impact of supply-chain crises and workforce shortages:

1. Clarity and transparency with your customers

Whether you’re short-staffed restaurant or experiencing delays, the best thing to do is to let your customers know as soon as possible.

Transparency when it comes to pricing will also go a long way.

Numerous companies are taking advantage of the situation to increase prices despite an increase in profits, and that’s making many customers suspicious.

To earn trust, proving that you have a good reason to raise prices is essential.

2. Stick to your bread and butter.

Figure out which of your products are performing best with customers and plan ahead. This doesn’t just mean ordering more of this product in advance, it also means

  • looking for alternative suppliers that may be closer to Malta
  • searching for alternative products that can be imported from a source closer to Malta

3. Create a waitlist

Absence makes the heart grow fonder, and in some cases a lack of availability can actually benefit your brand by making it feel more exclusive. A digital email sign-up increases customer engagement and boosts purchasing when your product is restocked. Giving your customers the ability to pre-order at a discount is also worth considering.

In our opinion, the easiest way to go about this is via a digital agency that can set this up for you.

4. Pinpoint unique selling points driving customer behaviour

As we showed in our previous article, delivery time is greatly influencing shoppers in Malta and Europe. Give it a read, and then contact us to find out how we’re making fast delivery cost-efficient for your business.

Follow us!

We’ll be sharing more steps you can take to fortify your business against the repercussions of the global supply chains crisis in an upcoming article.

Let’s partner up!

FastDrop builds on the logistical expertise and resources of its parent company eCabs to make deliveries in Malta as easy and affordable as possible. Find out how we can help your business. Get in touch!

Why Offering Fast Delivery in Malta Gives Your Business a Unique Edge

Maltese people spend more time on social networks and mobile internet than anywhere else in Europe.

This is according to a Eurobarometer survey published on 8th April 2022 which set internet usage in Malta at 71% when compared to 44% in Europe.

But let’s face it, you don’t really need a survey to know that selling online in Malta is essential, but here’s the kicker:

E-commerce comes with its own hurdles. Selling online means competing with both local stores as well as multinationals like Amazon and eBay – companies with gigantic budgets that will outspend you on any day of the week.

In-fact, if you look up the top 30 Visited Sites in Malta, Ebay ranks at 17 and Amazon at 20.
To counter small businesses that attempted to fight back by developing their own e-commerce platforms, companies like Amazon started using delivery speed to kill the competition. 

And they’ve been successful:

Amazon.de alone is the leading e-commerce in Germany; Amazon.it is the leading e-commerce in Italy; and Amazon.fr is the leading e-commerce site in France.

But Malta’s dependence on maritime shipping lines actually works in favour of local businesses here: fast delivery is something multinational companies cannot easily make available to Maltese shoppers.

Malta being an island has and will continue to slow down e-commerce giants from setting up shop here, but we recognise that it’s not an infallible barrier.

Of course, e-commerce giants can choose to expand into Malta, but they will have a much harder time taking your customers if you already offer fast delivery.


Where local businesses make their products and services available online and quick to acquire thanks to fast delivery, e-commerce giants are finding a market that is too tough to penetrate.

When Amazon tried to expand into the Netherlands, it quickly found that many Dutch consumers will stay loyal to Bol.com, a homegrown marketplace. This is according to analysts at Pattern, a global e-commerce consultancy with headquarters in Lehi, Utah.

In February, Bol.com drew 83.7 million mobile and desktop visits, compared to 23.6 million on Amazon.nl, Amazon’s Netherlands site.

In South Korea, for example, local e-commerce leader Coupang delivers every product within 24 hours and offers 7 a.m. deliveries on some items, even when they are ordered at midnight.

Because of this, e-commerce giants like Amazon found little success in the South Korean market.

What’s the conclusion?

As long as service is similar and delivery speed is competitive, people will generally gravitate towards local businesses and smaller competitors.

It’s not just because we’re hard-wired to root for the underdog (we are), people consistently find that smaller businesses are generally more approachable, more transparent and more likely to care about whether a customer is happy or not.

In other words, increasing the speed and quality of your delivery service will both give you the edge over local competitors today AND can future-proof your business from bigger competitors.

As the meteoric rise of businesses such as Bolt Food, Wolt and Timetoeat has shown, fast delivery is extremely important to Maltese homeowners.

And the reason why is clear: in Malta, offering fast delivery means giving customers the ability to acquire products quickly without having to drive in the second-most dense road network in the world.

Just how important is Fast Delivery becoming?

Below, we take a look at findings from reports by Eurostat, statista.com, L2, Ecommercenews.eu, invespcro, digitalcommerce360, and Sendcloud





Let’s partner up!

FastDrop builds on the logistical expertise and resources of its parent company eCabs to make deliveries in Malta as easy and affordable as possible. Find out how we can help your business. Get in touch!

eCabs reinventing the last mile delivery industry through FastDrop.

New 24/7 last mile platform set to permanently change delivery services in Malta.


Local mobility tech industry leaders eCabs have stepped up investment in their last mile platform FastDrop to bring to the market exceptional service, a new paradigm in last mile delivery and affordable rates, new and improved services that enable even the smallest of stores to be part of the e-commerce market. eCabs is now aiming to become the leading last mile player in the industry, leveraging its unique technology platform with the Maltese market serving as a global showcase for the platform.


Having announced their global strategic partnership with German tech company M-Tribes in August, FastDrop General Manager Greta Borg explains, “strategically, we are tackling in the same way we revolutionised the cab market in Malta: invest in technology, team up with the best minds in the segment, build a platform on our own intellectual property, take it to the Maltese market and then expand globally.” Greta added that “what has resulted today is an incredible demand for our services translated into the daily delivery of thousands of packages of all sizes and nature, and all this in a matter of weeks.”


The accelerated growth of FastDrop is due to a constantly increasing long list of satisfied B2B clients who are experiencing a process driven platform which is easy to use, empowers the business with data and live tracking, provides the fastest and most cost-effective delivery times on the market with live proof of delivery and offers an unmatched 24/7 service including live support even on public holidays.


Being tech first, the sky is the limit on where FastDrop has set its sights. The product development roadmap is packed solid with features which include eCommerce plug-ins for quick deployment of an eCommerce last mile offering, as well as labelling and scanning with the innovative and brand friendly use of QR codes, unique in this type of deployment. Other features will include end customer tracking through mobile application, empowering customers to also affect delivery date and time changes quickly and easily.


Greta Borg underlined the eCabs philosophy in deploying FastDrop in Malta emphasising that “from day one, our aim has been to empower local businesses with an effective, efficient and inexpensive last mile capability which can offer value through a round-the-clock service in Malta and Gozo. FastDrop is also enabling its clients to make use of the unique 24/7 capability. Whilst most businesses are closed on Sunday, today’s consumer expectations means that customers are open to delivery of packages any time, any day.  “Some business clients have started taking advantage of this operational strength and the numbers in this area are growing. We have found ways with some to enable stock collection in the early hours of the morning when the same business is closed, at no extra cost to the business and the customer”.


As the business grows day-on-day, the Company is shaping new products largely in the middle mile segment through which FastDrop would be enabling the business to outsource its internal logistics including warehouse to store, and store to store stock movements. This will eliminate internal inefficiences and mitigate costly inventory stock piling and other operating expenditure such as the cost of maintaining vehicles and delivery personnel.


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eCabs sign agreement with Germany-based tech company M-TRIBES.

The partnership is a first step towards the internationalisation of eCabs’ technology.


The founders of eCabs and M-TRIBES, a Germany-based software provider for mobility and logistics businesses recently announced to extend their technology partnership and offer a unique bundle of ride-hailing and delivery software and services in Europe and Northern Africa.


Following their collaboration on creating FastDrop, eCabs’ last-mile delivery-as-a-service platform, the two companies will optimize the utilization of their workforce and assets to market eCabs’ fully IP-owned ride-hailing platform, as well as the joint FastDrop delivery technology.


Whereas M‑TRIBES is planning to refocus its ambitions in the ride-hailing segment to resell the eCabs technology, FastDrop by eCabs becomes M‑TRIBES principal business partner for product and business development in the Last and Middle Mile Delivery category.


“The last mile segment has long been in our sights. Back in 2019, we tested the market and quickly validated our hypothesis on the opportunities that existed. Our partnership with M-TRIBES enabled us to fast track the deployment of FastDrop. Now this relationship has grown to combine our joint expertise in transport software and operations to power independent operators in both spaces of ride hailing and last mile within the EMEA region, and help to expand their business”, explained the eCabs CEO Matthew Bezzina.


For eCabs the extended partnership marks an important step forward on its journey defined by the experience of providing ride-hailing operations for more than 11 years, as well as intelligent investments that have enabled the Malta-based operator to defend the market-leader position in the highly competitive ride-hailing space within the region. Having built a powerful technology setup that has been tested in the road dense local market, eCabs is now taking a bold step on the path of going international, with an integrated mobility solution.


eCabs has been working since 2020 with M-TRIBES as part of its long-term vision to move into 3rd party logistics, with the launch of FastDrop to specifically service the last mile and middle mile segment in Malta. FastDrop is poised to overhaul the local last mile market through B2B partnerships, with the aim of bridging the gap and improving last mile services and consumer communications, with timely and well communicated delivery in the local and foreign eCommerce space.


A fruitful business relationship quickly emerged after the companies started collaborating at the height of the pandemic. To develop the FastDrop platform, like-minded professionals from both companies in the field of product development and technology worked on the existing and powerful M-Tribes platform M-TOOLS, enhancing it through the added operational expertise that eCabs boasts.


M‑TRIBES founding partners Patrick Arle and Marian-Maximilian Martens recently met with eCabs founding partners Matthew Bezzina and Dr.Andrew Bezzina in Malta, to discuss details of the MOU.


Matthew Bezzina, eCabs CEO concludes, “The synergies between M‑TRIBES and eCabs are strongly rooted in a great personal understanding as well as a technology first culture. This is an important step for us in that we can look at accelerating our international aspirations to see our ride hailing technology landing in other large and respectable European markets, whilst we keep on investing in the FastDrop product to build it into an unrivalled brand. The more we look overseas, the more we see exciting opportunities that are there for the taking. We are very excited by the prospects that this great understanding with Patrick, Marian and the M‑TRIBES team brings with it”.


In order to exploit the full potential of their partnership an understanding between the two organizations has grown such that eCabs and M‑TRIBES are investing on two new areas of their collaboration. Whereas M‑TRIBES is planning to refocus its ambitions in the ride-hailing segment to resell the eCabs technology, FastDrop by eCabs becomes M‑TRIBES principal business partner for product and business development in the Last and Middle Mile Delivery category.


M-TRIBES CEO, Patrick Arle highlights the like mindedness in both aspirations and work ethic the companies share. “We are very excited to be expanding our partnership with eCabs. Our companies have developed a mutual understanding on many levels and we both share the belief that the combination of our offering fits like a glove to the needs of independent operators.”


“Together with eCabs we now look forward to build bigger international opportunities quicker than we both could have before. Wrapping up our offering of ride-hailing and delivery technology will enable local and independent operators to thrive in times of massive change in the transportation industry.”


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