Have you ever thought how foods such us fruits, fish, vegetables travel across the world to the USA? Since first cargo container invented in 1950’s ocean shipping industry improved with high technology. Shipping food products became much more easier than before with a high tech reefer containers. International trade is getting global and technology enables us to reach different foods and goods from different counties. Now we can easily find tropical fruit or vegetables in off-season when you go to your local supermarket.

Special refrigerated containers that commonly called reefers, is one of the biggest improvement in the shipping industry. They provide us with tropical fruits and veggies off-season. Reefers can control temperatures, allowing everything from fish, fruit, meat, and vegetables to pharmaceuticals traveling big distances from far lands. Moreover, refrigerated containers offer more energy efficient ways to move fresh products from point A to point B.

Reefer containers generally come in 20 foot and 40 foot lengths, with the same general dimensions as that of dry cargo containers of the same size. Though, there is just a little less space available inside the reefer container due to the space occupied by the refrigeration unit and ventilation equipment. Some reefers also allow the atmosphere in the container to be controlled so for example, bananas can be shipped between continents without turning brown. Because of reefer containers, that your local grocery store  is able to stock and sell all kinds of fresh products all year round.

What is controlled atmosphere container?

CA (controlled atmosphere) containers regulate oxygen, carbon dioxide and nitrogen levels, as well as temperature and humidity. Managing the balance of atmospheric gasses can help to maintain product quality over longer shipping and storage periods.

Advanced technology let the container maintain level of CO inside the container. Let ‘s say CO2 levels exceed their optimum, the membrane will be activated and start to permeate CO2 molecules away from the cargo space. If O2 level decreases below the set point, the fresh air intake will automatically open up, to let in ambient air. At 2-5% O2 and 2-7% CO2 CA delays ripening and reduces respiration and ethylene production rates. Postharvest life potential of mature-green bananas: 2-4 weeks in air and 4-6 weeks in CA at 14°C (58°F)  Exposure to<1% O2 and/or >7% CO2 may cause undesirable texture and flavor. Use of CA during transport to delay ripening has facilitated picking bananas at the full ripe stage.

What are the benefits of using controlled atmosphere?

Companies are able to ship easily and safely from long distances regardless the type of commodity, long shelf life, decrease in product loss caused by deterioration. There is substantial increase in the range of commodities suitable for sea transportation, eliminating the need for expensive airfreight and an important extension of the distribution radius. Since fresh Bananas are the most sensitive cargo prevalent. These specially designed CA (controlled atmosphere) containers to carry bananas over longer distances. It can let you carry fresh bananas for up to 45 days, which enables you to reach more distant markets than ever before. It creates new opportunities for suppliers and buyers to reach more distant markets. Furthermore, CA containers give shippers and receivers far more flexibility compared to break bulk. As you know there are two common container types: 20 foot and 40 foot. A single 20-foot container can hold about 48,000 bananas. Bananas are worldwide a very crucial source of food with production per annum more than 125 million tons.

I was surprised when I heard that India is the largest producer of banana in the world. Their average banana production is about 30 million tons per year. However, Latin America dominates the international banana trade. To sum up, reefers play a significant part in our everyday lives. The banana you have everyday for breakfast is being imported from South America or India or  Brazilian mango you have every night… They come to your table in reefers from long distances. How? In reefers of course. Due to refrigerated containerized services perishable cargo transport is now safer and more affordable than ever before.