What is a reefer container and how does it work?


Simply put, reefer containers are big fridges that are used to transport temperature controlled cargoes such as fruits, meat, fish, seafood, vegetables, dairy and also non-food products such as flowers, pharmaceuticals and film across many miles and oceans.

Some cargoes may need to be shipped chilled or frozen or in controlled + temperatures. Reefer containers have the ability to maintain the cargo at the required temperatures for the duration of the transit.

How does a reefer container work?

Reefer containers are bottom air delivery units designed to distribute chilled air from the floor, via specific T-shaped decking, with the advantage of producing a consistent and uniform flow of air across the entire shipment, powerful enough to ensure a perfect air exchange with the goods.

Refrigerated units can maintain or lower the temperature of your shipment, even in the most difficult conditions.

Reefer containers also equipped to ‘warm up' the goods for those shipments where required, with the ability to maintain temperatures up to 30°C when required, regardless of outside temperatures.

Important point to note is that a reefer unit is not designed to reduce the temperature of the cargo but rather to maintain the pre-cooled cargo temperature.

The airflow requirements of each commodity varies and there is no one size fits all in reefer cargo movement.

Due to some fruit types carrying potential pathogens, some importing countries like China, Japan, Nigeria, require cold treatment of the fruit (colloquially known as Steri shipments).

For these kind of shipments, the fruit will be pre-cooled to a lower temperature than a commercial market and in order to monitor this, steri probes (about 3 per shipment) are inserted into the pulp of the fruit, within the carton.

There is a minimal tolerance allowed in temperature variance. Should the tolerance be exceeded, then either additional hours or days will be required to bring it to the required temperature.

Should one of the probes drift above the tolerance, the cargo will be rejected at country of destination, due to the potential of the fruit still retaining pathogens.

All in all, cold-treatment cargoes follow the normal pattern of shipping with one or two additional requirements.

Should the units be packed correctly and cargo post-harvest process followed, barring the unit failing, cargo can be received by the customer on a ready to eat basis or even for further storage.

If you are looking for a reefer container give our team a call today.