How Long Perishable Goods Stored in Refrigerated Sea Container

Storage Duration of Perishable Goods in a Refrigerated Sea Container

When it comes to shipping perishable goods across oceans, refrigerated containers are the unsung heroes. These containers provide a chilly oasis for fruits, veggies, and other perishables, keeping them fresh during their journey. But have you ever wondered just how long these containers can keep things cool? In this blog, we'll break down the basics of refrigerated shipping, explore what affects the shelf life of goods, and share tips for making the most of your refrigerated container. So, let's dive in and discover how to keep things fresh while they're on the move!

Cold Cargo: Extending Perishables' Shelf Life at Sea

Refrigeration sea containers, commonly known as reefers, have revolutionized the transportation and storage of perishable goods. Whether it’s fresh produce, dairy products , seafood , or meat , maintaining optimal conditions is crucial to preserving quality and extending shelf life. Let’s explore the factors affecting storage duration, recommended guidelines, and strategies for maximizing freshness.

Factors Affecting Storage Duration

To know how long perishable cargo can last in a refrigerated sea container, we need to think about temperature, humidity, and air flow.

Temperature Control:

Ensuring precise temperature control is essential for preserving perishable goods in refrigerated sea containers. These containers feature advanced refrigeration systems that maintain temperatures within specific ranges tailored to each type of item. For instance, fruits and vegetables thrive in temperatures between 32°F to 55°F (0°C to 13°C), while seafood and dairy products require slightly lower temperatures.

Consistency in temperature is critical to prevent spoilage. Fluctuations can accelerate deterioration, emphasizing the need for maintaining a steady temperature throughout storage. Refrigerated sea containers excel in this aspect, significantly extending the shelf life of perishable goods during transit.

Furthermore, these containers are equipped with sophisticated temperature monitoring systems, facilitating real-time data collection and proactive adjustments to ensure optimal conditions. Overall, temperature control plays a pivotal role in preserving the quality and safety of perishable cargo during maritime transportation.

Humidity Control:

In addition to temperature control, humidity levels inside the refrigerated container also play a crucial role in preserving the quality of perishable goods. Excessive humidity can lead to condensation, which may promote the growth of mold and bacteria, accelerating the spoilage of perishable items. On the other hand, low humidity levels can cause dehydration and deterioration of certain products, such as fruits and vegetables. Refrigerated sea containers are equipped with humidity control systems that help maintain optimal humidity levels, ensuring the longevity of perishable cargo.

Air circulation and ventilation:

Proper air circulation is another essential factor for prolonging the shelf life of perishable goods in refrigerated sea containers. Adequate airflow helps distribute the cold air evenly throughout the container, preventing temperature variations and ensuring consistent preservation of the cargo. Some refrigerated containers are equipped with specialized ventilation systems that facilitate efficient air circulation, further enhancing the storage capabilities of perishable goods.

Types of perishable goods and their storage periods

Perishable goods have varying storage periods, depending on their type. Here's an overview:

Fresh Fruits and Vegetables:

Apples: Keep between 30°F to 32°F (-1°C to 0°C) for up to 6 months.

Greens: Maintain at 32°F to 40°F (0°C to 4°C) for around 5 to 7 days.

Tomatoes: Thrive in reefer containers set between 45°F and 60°F (7°C to 15°C) for 7 to 28 days.

Berries: Store at 32°F to 40°F (0°C to 4°C) for about 2 to 7 days.

Oranges: ranging from various varieties, are best stored at 36°F to 50°F (2°C to 10°C) for 1 to 3 months.

Bananas: Keep at around 56°F to 60°F (13°C to 16°C) with low humidity for 3 to 5 days.

Grapes: stay fresh at 30°F to 32°F (-1°C to 0°C) for 1 to 5 months.

Pomegranates: Store at temperatures between 32°F to 41°F (0°C to 5°C) during transportation to maintain freshness. They can typically last for 1 to 2 months.

Dairy Products:

Milk: Refrigerate at 36°F to 40°F (2°C to 4°C) for 5 to 7 days.

Cheese: Store according to type, lasting from several weeks to months.

Yogurt: Keep chilled at 32°F to 40°F (0°C to 4°C) for 1 to 2 weeks.

Meat, Poultry, and Seafood:

Fresh Beef and Pork: Refrigerate at 32°F to 40°F (0°C to 4°C) for 3 to 5 days.

Poultry: Store at 32°F to 40°F (0°C to 4°C) for 1 to 2 days.

Seafood: Duration varies; fresh fish lasts 1 to 2 days, while shellfish like shrimp and crab should be consumed within 1 to 2 days of purchase.

Factors Affecting Perishable Goods Storage Beyond Container Conditions

While refrigeration sea containers offer a controlled environment, several factors beyond container conditions influence the storage life of perishable goods.

1. Initial Product Quality

The quality of perishable cargo at the start significantly influences its storage life. Goods with higher initial quality—such as freshly harvested produce or properly processed meat and seafood—tend to last longer. Ensuring freshness and quality during storage is critical.

2. Transportation and Handling Practices

During transportation within the supply chain, perishable goods encounter various factors affecting their shelf life:

  • Temperature Fluctuations Temperature Fluctuations : Rapid changes can shorten shelf life.
  • Mishandling or Delays Mishandling or Delays : Rough handling or delays impact freshness. Maintaining proper cold chain management practices throughout the supply chain is essential to maximize storage time.

3. Monitoring and Extending Storage Time

To enhance storage duration and preserve quality in refrigerated shipping containers, consider the following strategies:

a) Temperature Monitoring Devices

Use data loggers and remote sensors to monitor the real-time temperature inside the container. Maintaining the desired temperature range throughout storage is crucial. Regular monitoring allows for timely adjustments to prevent temperature anomalies and maintain product quality.

b) Quality Control and Inspection

Regular checks and inspections are vital to identify potential issues affecting storage life.

  • Visual Inspection Visual Inspection : Assess the product appearance and condition.
  • Sensory Evaluation Sensory Evaluation : Evaluate taste, smell, and texture.
  • Microbiological Testing Microbiological Testing : Detects microbial growth or contamination.

Remember, reefers provide a controlled environment, but proper handling and adherence to guidelines are essential for maintaining the quality of perishable goods during storage and transit.


The storage duration of perishable goods in refrigeration sea containers is influenced by various factors, including temperature control, humidity levels, and product type. While these containers provide a controlled environment conducive to preserving freshness, it's important to consider additional factors such as proper handling and transportation logistics. By addressing these aspects comprehensively, suppliers can maximize the shelf life of perishable cargo and ensure the delivery of high-quality products to consumers worldwide.

For Citrus Freight , a trusted name in perishable cargo transportation, refrigeration sea containers offer an ideal solution for transporting goods across long distances. With careful attention to temperature control and handling procedures, Citrus Freight ensures the preservation of freshness and quality, meeting market demands and customer expectations with every shipment.