Every day, fresh produce is transported in all industries globally.
If you’re looking to ship fruits and vegetables, you can expect the need to plan many aspects of the shipping journey to ensure that your cargo remains fresh upon arrival, and can be consumed.
Because most produce such as fruits and vegetables ripen, you will need to be very particular when transporting them within a specific window of time.
Fruit and vegetables are freshest when harvested, but their edibility starts to tick down.
So logistic companies that are part of any supply chain transporting fruits and vegetables should look to use the right shipping container for the job, to ensure that the cargo has not perished, and retains as close of a fresh quality as possible.
If you’re looking to transport fruits and vegetables to offshore locations, then using Offshore Reefer Container units can be a suitable solution for you.
How to Safely Transport Fruits and Vegetables With Reefers?
We will be going through how to safely transport fruits and vegetables with offshore reefer containers.
But before that, we first need to know what is a reefer container.
What Is a Reefer Container?
We’ve gone into detail about what is a reefer container as well as its certification that you can read about here.
But to give a quick summary, reefers, also known as refrigerated containers, are used to transport goods and items that require temperature control during transit.
Usually, products such as meat, fruit, vegetables, and dairy use reefer containers during shipping.
These containers are fitted with a refrigeration unit that is connected to an electrical power supply and can be supplied with warm or cold air through an air duct system.
The most essential component of an offshore reefer container is temperature consistency.
During long-distance transportation, the temperature consistency helps keep goods fresh and also helps prevent any spoilage.
Many companies depend on controlling the internal climate within these containers to keep certain cargo, like fruits and vegetables in prime condition, which make reefers perfect for transporting these type of goods.
Why Are Reefers Great for Transporting Fruits And Vegetables?
If you’re looking to understand specifically why reefers are great for these types of produce, then check out the bullet points below.
But, for some context, many businesses on a global scale require fresh produce to be transported for them in a safe and efficient manner.
As mentioned earlier, fruits and vegetables ripen and only have a short period of time that they need to be consumed before they become inedible.
So companies that wish to transport these items will need to plan accordingly on transporting these types of produce, and the usage of reefer containers will help reduce the number of produce perishing along the shipping process.
How does a reefer do this?
Within a reefer, carbon dioxide and other gasses that promote the ripening process are circulated out, and fresh air is circulated in via the internal refrigeration system.
Without this system installed, produce will simply ripen along the way during transport, and will become inedible upon reaching their intended destination.
This refrigeration system is achieved using several components that are built-in:
- Control unit:
The control unit adjusts the temperature, humidity levels, and ventilation inside of the reefer.
- Interior fans:
Air circulation is performed with the help of these fans within the container.
- Fresh air vent:
These vents allow for both the fresh air from the outside to come into the reefer while pushing out the gases that cause the produce to perish.
- Unit evaporator:
As excess moisture also contributes to spoiling fruits and vegetables, a unit evaporator is installed to ensure that the right moisture level within the container is maintained.
Comprised of a coil and a fan, the condenser helps with the internal air circulation as well.
These core components are what make the refrigeration system for a reefer work, and help keep fruits and vegetables fresh during transport.
What Is the Ideal Reefer Temperature for Fruits and Vegetables?
Although the refrigeration system can help maintain ideal conditions during transport for fruits and veggies, it still requires manual input from someone to do so.
Because of that, anyone in charge of programming the reefers will need to understand what temperatures are best to use, as different fruits and vegetables may require different settings as well.
Choosing the wrong set temperature will cause the cargo to perish, potentially losing you a lot of money.
To set the temperature for your reefer, simply look for the control unit outside of the container and input the settings required.
But before that, ensure that the reefer is receiving power from somewhere, usually a genset or a power chord.
You should be all set on how to program a reefer.
You can find a quick guide on the temperatures you will need to use when transporting common fruits and vegetables.
For uncommon ones such as fruits and veggies that can only be found in certain locations, you may need to research and experiment with different temperatures to find the ideal conditions for them.
Conditions for Vegetables
Typically for vegetables, the internal temperature for a reefer container should be in the range of -1 to 13 degrees Celsius (30-55 degrees Fahrenheit).
This varies depending on the vegetable you are transporting, as they will differ in shelf life, freezing points, and ideal humidity levels.
Here are examples of common vegetables transported and their proper storage conditions:
- Broccoli: 0 C (32 F)
- Brussels sprouts: 0 C (32 F)
- Carrots: 0 C (32 F)
- Green beans: 4 to 7 C (40-45 F)
- Cucumbers: 10 to 13 C (50-55 F)
- Garlic: 0 C (32 F)
- Eggplant: 8 to 12 C (46-54 F)
- Onion: 0 C (32 F)
- Spinach: 0 C (32 F)
So it might be a good idea to transport both spinach and onions as they share the same ideal storage conditions, but it would probably be a bad idea to ship eggplants with them as well, as eggplants need a higher temperature to be transported ideally.
Conditions for Fruits
What about fruits?
Similar to vegetables, if you know what the ideal temperatures are for fruits, you will be able to send them across a large distance.
Typically, reefers that transport fruit should maintain temperatures ranging from -1 to 4 degrees Celsius (30-40 degrees Fahrenheit).
Here’s a quick guide on common fruits and their proper storage temperatures:
- Apples: -1 to 4 C (30-40 F)
- Blackberries: -0.5 to 0 C (31-32 F)
- Raspberries: -0.5 to 0 C (31-32 F)
- Strawberries: 0 C (32 F)
- Cherries: -1 to -0.5 C (30-31 F)
- Grapes: -0.5 to 0 C (31-32 F)
- Peaches: -0.5 to 0 C (31-32 F)
- Pears: -1.7 to -0.5 C (29-31 F)
Fruits are a little more flexible for ideal conditions compared to vegetables, but once again, please plan out which fruits make sense to be transported together.
Transporting Fruits and Vegetables With Reefers
Proper transportation of fruit and vegetables is key when delivering them from hard-working producers, to the hungry consumer.
And when done correctly, transporting these easily perishable produce becomes easier and more secure.
Though we have mostly gone over the refrigeration aspect of reefers, another important aspect to think about is on how your reefer is loaded, and how the contents are organized within.
Pack things too tightly, and you may restrict the airflow of fresh air coming in, and ripening gasses going out of the reefer.
So even if your refrigeration system is working optimally, you may still find your cargo spoiled.
So follow these quick tips for packing your reefer container, and your cargo should remain fresh and edible:
- Use loading patterns that suit the type of cargo you plan to transport.
- Before opening your reefer, do not cool it.
- Ensure your perishables are in the ideal conditions before loading them onto your reefer.
- Follow the max load line, and do not overload your cargo.
- Prevent air circulation issues by providing ample space between the walls and your cargo.
A graduate (Business) from KDU, Jason Tan, is the current Business Director (Sales) for MGS Icestorm and has been associated with the company for the past 10 years.
With over 13 years in the shipping industry, he has had a significant contribution to Malaysia’s oil and gas industry in the engine and boat supply sector.
His expertise includes managing offshore catering business, offshore reefer containers, AI technology, offshore gas tanks, A60 pressurized cabins, etc. His contributions have helped establish MGS, in partnership (joint venture) with Thermo King and Honeywell to produce state of art Offshore Reefer Container products.