What are Reefer Containers, and Which Industries use Them Most Frequently?

It is often necessary to transport perishable goods. Many industries employ special storage units called reefer containers for such purposes. When exporting bulk goods such as furniture, machine parts, electronics, and similar items, they are generally loaded into a regular shipping container. These are usually rectangular steel boxes of six or twelve metres in length. They are sturdily built and weatherproof, so the contents can be guaranteed to remain dry. They are equally suitable for transporting these items by road or rail. In each role, the container’s sole purpose is to ensure the contents remain secure and are protected from the elements.


Sometimes, however, a load raises additional concerns. South Africa exports a variety of foods, and many are temperature sensitive. To ensure they remain fresh throughout their long sea or overland journey, they need to be packed in refrigerated containers, often referred to as reefers.

Reefer Containers


Industries that Regularly Employ Reefer Containers


These storage units are offered mainly in the same familiar as dry shipping containers. While they appear similar, their internal insulation is augmented by an efficient refrigeration unit capable of maintaining temperatures as low as -30°C and a ventilation system which circulates the cold air and maintains the desired temperature. As a malfunction could prove disastrous, reefers may also have a redundant cooling system that automatically takes over. The following industries are the most frequent users of reefers:


  1. Fruit and Vegetable Growers: Unless these locally grown fruits are transported overseas by air, there is a danger they could deteriorate and become inedible during a long road or sea journey. Packing these items in a temperature-controlled container ensures they will retain their freshness and their market value.


  1. Dairy Farmers: Dairy products like cream, cheese, yoghurt, and other fermented milk products are seldom shipped overseas. Transportation is generally local or across international borders to neighbouring countries. Nevertheless, refrigeration is equally crucial when transporting these products by road or rail, so reefer containers are the solution.


  1. Meat and Poultry Producers: These items are particularly prone to decay and could become a source of food poisoning if not kept sufficiently cool.


  1. The Fishing Industry: This industry accounts for almost 19% of all food exported and is easily the most unstable.


  1. Pharmaceutical Companies: Air freight was once the only practical means of transporting essential medicines safely. However, packing medications in refrigerated containers has enabled shipping them by road and rail. This option is equally safe and has also helped lower their price tags.


Buying or Renting Reefer Containers


Contact Absolute Containers – South Africa’s industry leader – for more information about our range of storage and shipping containers. Our experienced engineering team specialises in bespoke conversions, including modular buildings and reefers.