Reefer Shipping

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Reefer shipping is a standard industry term referring to goods transported in refrigerated shipping containers. Discover how it works and with what types of goods this transportation method is best suited.

WHAT IS REEFER SHIPPING?​

A specialized method of sea transport, reefer shipping utilizes refrigerated containers to maintain optimal temperatures for sensitive cargo throughout long ocean voyages.

This type of shipping differs significantly from standard container shipping due to the differences in ship and container types. The word “reefer” is a shortening of the phrase “refrigerated container.”

 

HOW REEFER SHIPPING CONTAINERS WORK?

While reefers externally resemble standard shipping containers, they feature thick layers of insulation materials, an electrical generator, powered ventilation systems, and refrigerant gases to control the temperature inside. As powered units, they must be constantly supplied with electrical energy to function correctly. The power comes from either the reefer ship or a shore source. Transportation staff must also regularly monitor each container to ensure the internal temperature is optimal for the type of goods transported.

For example, when transporting vegetables, the internal temperature must typically remain between 30°F and 55°F (-1 to 13 °C). To preserve their quality, texture, and flavor, certain frozen goods must be shipped at a bone-chilling -4°F (-20°C).

GOODS SHIPPED IN REEFER CONTAINERS

Reefers are best suited for transporting temperature-sensitive goods and perishable commodities, such as:
  • Perishable food like fresh produce, meat, or fish;
  • Perishable beverages, such as dairy, beer, or wine;
  • Temperature-sensitive chemicals and hazardous materials, such as Class 4.1 (self-reactive substances) and Class 5.2 substances (organic peroxides);
  • Flowers and decorative plants;
  • Paint and others.

WHAT CAN ALSO BE SHIPPED IN REEFER CONTAINERS?

Transportation of Pharmaceutical Products in Refrigerated Containers

The vital role of reefers extends beyond fresh produce and perishable goods. They actively participate in the distribution of crucial medicine supplies, including drugs and pharmaceuticals. During the global COVID-19 pandemic, reefers facilitated the timely delivery of essential medicines and vaccines.

 

Utilizing Refrigerated Containers for Dry Cargo Transport

Despite their primary purpose for temperature-controlled environments, reefers occasionally function as dry cargo transporters. By simply deactivating the refrigeration unit, a reefer seamlessly transforms into a standard dry container. This versatility is often employed during repositioning, a logistical practice where empty containers are relocated to areas with higher demand.

 

Atlantic Project Cargo is an international multimodal company with years of experience in shipping containerized and oversized cargo. We can help your company transport perishable and sensitive goods in our refrigerated containers to any global port.