Shipping Perishable

Offshore Frozen Shipping Guide: How It Works & How Much Does It Cost?

offshore frozen shipping guide

Shipping perishable frozen food products across continents dictate special expertise and speed to ensure the cold chain remains unbroken to ensure food safety. Essentially, from farm to fork. 

Generally, frozen shipping requires careful planning, expertise and execution to maintain the cold chain. So, how does frozen shipping this work, and how much does it really cost? 

What types of food are commonly shipped frozen?

For the most part, almost any perishable food item can quickly spoil and become unsafe for human consumption if not maintained at a specific temperature. The most common foods that are shipped frozen are: meats, fish, or cooked foods, fruits, seafood, milk, cheese, butter, Yoghurt, Ice Cream and even cakes.

Types of coolants commonly used

One critical element involved in shipping frozen goods is coolant. There are essentially three main types of coolants used by shippers, namely: 

Gel pack

Gel packs are coolants that are a great alternative to standard cube ice. They basically help to keep frozen foods safe without the mess of melting into water. Essentially, gel packs stabilise the dry ice causing it to sublimate at a slower rate. And thus, effectively extend the shelf-life of the product during long-haul shipping over several days.

Wet ice

Wet ice is liquefied carbon dioxide used to keep perishables cold or frozen. However, it typically melts into water in transit. And therefore might not be ideal for some frozen food packaging. 

Dry ice

Dry ice is used to keep items cool for extended periods of time but remains solid for significant amounts of time at low enough temperatures. However, because it is sometimes considered a hazardous material, it has some restrictions. For example, dry ice is recommended for shipping snap frozen seafood products over short durations.

Factors to check for shipping frozen goods

Temperature requirements for frozen food shipping

Typically, frozen goods require varying temperatures. For example, fruits and vegetables are typically shipped air cooled while dairy products are shipped chilled or frozen (up to -25°C). 

Generally, all frozen food should be securely held at an air temperature of 0 degrees F to ensure they arrive while fresh and consumable.

Sanitary provisions

Ensure that your preferred shipping company maintains facilities that are clean and free of objectionable odours before being loaded with frozen food.

Offshore reefer container condition

Carefully examine the offshore refrigerated container’s condition when sending frozen food to ensure the safety and quality of the items in transit. This is because international weather conditions can vary from time to time. 

MGS 8ft Offshore Reefer Container 1

Packing frozen goods 

Carefully consider how the frozen goods are packed. For example, ensure to use gel packs for items that need to be kept between 34ºF (1ºC) and 50ºF (10ºC). Also, ensure that you double-bag perishable products that can melt or thaw. Furthermore, always place shipments that contain liquids in additional watertight plastic bags.


Timing is mission-critical when shipping frozen items. For example, waiting time at ports and customs clearance delays have to be factored in while calculating general lead time. Lead time is the total time it basically takes to transport cargo between two or more locations. Lead time is crucial in planning and forecasting the shipment of frozen products.


RFID tags are essential when transporting frozen foods for traceability and temperature control. In practice, specialised RFID tags with temperature indicators combined with antennas in compact packaging can be attached to a frozen shipment for tracking at constant intervals.

Coolant choices

Be careful to choose the appropriate coolant for the shipment as both dry ice and gel packs to present their own benefits and drawbacks. In some instances, you may even need to employ a combination of dry ice and gel packs. 

How much does it cost to ship frozen food?

The cost of shipping frozen food depends on a number of factors, such as shipping distance, transit duration, dimensions and the weight of the packaging, etc. From a general perspective, a frozen package weighing 2 to 3 Kgs can cost between $30 and $150 to ship. 

The importance of DNV offshore reefer containers in shipping frozen goods

Due to their versatility, DNV certified offshore reefer containers are used to safely transport frozen cargo efficiently. In fact, they are designed to withstand very low minimum temperatures and are both corrosion-resistant and durable.

Because they are rigorously tested and have tough requirements, DNV offshore reefer containers are perfect for transporting or storing chilled or frozen food across international shores. 

However, appropriate packaging must also be utilised to avoid food spoilage and to protect shipment from contaminants.

Furthermore, to keep frozen food safe during transit, it is vital to use the right coolant to suit your desired mode of shipment and shipping duration. Remember that both dry ice and gel packs are effective for maintaining the cold chain. Just ensure to choose the right one for the job. 

Reach out to us at MGS Offshore for purchase and rental of DNV certified 2.5m & 3m offshore reefer units for transporting your frozen goods!

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