Reefer Cargo

Fresh fruits, chocolates, poultry, fish, ice-cream. When you ship temperature-sensitive goods, you need someone who understands what it takes to handle reefer cargo.

We know it takes exceptional attention to detail, proactive communication and a thorough understanding of local procedures to ensure a successful refrigerated shipment delivery.

With Safmarine, you get fast transit times, efficient inland connections and smooth transhipments.

Our team of local experts are always standing by to advise you on ideal cargo temperatures and how to pack containers, apart from guidance and assistance with local regulations - including safety and health protocols.

Most importantly, we understand the importance of delivering your chilled or frozen shipment on time. We do our utmost to keep to published sailing schedules, call at the right ports and provide accurate consignment information.

When you ship your chilled or frozen shipment with us, you will appreciate our precise temperature control, efficient logistical support, and access to top-notch equipment, and a single, uninterrupted cold chain – from source to shelf.

With Safmarine, you can be confident your shipment will arrive on time; in the condition you expect it to.

Shipping chilled cargo

When you entrust your chilled cargo with us, you entrusting its freshness, texture, flavour and aroma with us too. We do our best to live up to this trust.

We give you advice on storage

Fresh air ventilation

The ventilation of chilled produce is necessary in order to remove the heat, carbon dioxide and gases produced by the cargo. Ventilation varies for live fruit and vegetables that rely on oxygen re-supply and/or removal of carbon dioxide or ethylene. Excess ventilation should be avoided as refrigeration of the fresh air reduces the capacity for cooling the cargo.

Humidity Control (HMC)

The level of relative humidity affects many products - if humidity is too high, mould and fungi could develop; if too low, produce can wilt. Our containers are equipped with systems that can maintain optimum humidity. Temperature Control The temperature settings may vary according to the variety, stage of ripeness and place of origin of the product. Please note that plus temperatures are required for the shipment of non-foods and cargoes that need protection from extreme climatic condition.

We give you advice on container type

Up-to-the minute advice

We keep up-to-date on trends pertaining to product preparation, packaging and product quality in order to advise on the best mode of transport (equipment), specialized technology (such as controlled atmosphere, cold treatment sterilization and humidity control) and appropriate container settings (such as temperature and ventilation).

Sophisticated equipment

New and improved technology allows us to provide transport solutions for products previously considered unsuitable for sea freight. We have also developed tracking and data exchange technology for the accurate monitoring of temperature and other settings that you can benefit from.

First class travel for your chilled cargo

We invest regularly in new container technology. This means your cargo ships in containers that have some of the most sophisticated technology on board.

Controlled Atmosphere (CA)

Our CA system is designed to accurately maintain oxygen and carbon dioxide levels and is used when shipping fresh perishables. Thanks to CA, commodities that were previously excluded from distant markets have now become suitable for shipping. CA slows down  the ripening rate, allowing the produce to arrive at its destination in a fresher condition. It allows fruit to be picked at a later stage, thereby enhancing quality.

Cold treatment (CT) sterilization

Certain countries require the sterilization of perishable organic products in order to eliminate insect infestation of the cargo and container. So you no longer have to waste time and money sterilizing products before or after the voyage. We take care of cold treatment sterilization during the shipping process by using probes to record the pulp temperatures and monitor and accurately maintain pulp temperatures throughout transit. A report showing these temperatures is downloaded from the container's microprocessors on arrival and presented to the authorities for approval.

It is important that produce is accurately pre-treated, pre-cooled, packaged and stowed correctly. Our dedicated reefer teams are on-hand to offer valuable advice in this regard.

Our service features for chilled cargo

  • Expert advice from multilingual staff
  • Innovative transportation techniques developed together with customers
  • Reliable schedules; excellent transit times
  • On-carriage opportunities under though bills of lading
  • Pro-active communication and quick problem solving
  • Pre-trip inspections (PTI) prior to container delivery
  • Technical support and back up, before and during carriage
  • Close co-operation with, and member of, industry associations and research institutions
  • Constant temperature and humidity control
  • World-wide port calls on every continent
  • Door-to-door options
  • Dedicated web page for reefer customers - eBusiness, web bill of lading, tracking alerts, notifications and much more.
  • Regular access to clean, sturdy and odour-free containers
  • Specialized equipment - gensets; hi-cube ventilated containers 
  • Dedicated container depots
  • Specialized technology (CA, CT, HMC, and more)
  • Collect freight (selected routes only)
  • Total transportation solution - from shipper's warehouse inland to consignee's warehouse at destination

Shipping frozen cargo

Staying within an exact temperature range is vital to the integrity of a frozen shipment. This ensures optimal shelf life. Any divergence from this can result in irrevocable and often expensive damage to your shipment. Safmarine offers you access to technology, expertise and a team of experts who are eager to go that extra mile to ensure your frozen cargo arrives on time and in its optimal condition. 

We give you advice on shipping frozen goods

Shipping individually quick frozen (IQF) foods

To maintain product quality and to ensure that products that have been individually quick-frozen (such as seafood, vegetables and fruit) and remain in the IQF state, we recommend that you install two temperature probes. We recommend a setting of 0F or 4F (-20C), or colder, as the optimal carriage temperature.


Safmarine does not accept hot-stuffed goods as IQF shipments. Gensets are always used when IQF shipments are transported on land and we take special care to limit off-power periods. All Safmarine standards of procedure are in line with EU regulations/directives.


Never pre-cool a reefer container. The ambient hot air will meet the internal cold air, resulting in a large amount of condensation on the interior surface. Pre-cooling is only allowed when temperatures in the cold store and in the container are identical i.e. when a "cold tunnel" is used.

First class travel for your frozen cargo

We invest regularly in new container technology. This means your cargo ships in containers that have some of the most sophisticated technology on board.

Temperature control

Precise temperature control is vital for maintaining the integrity of your frozen shipment. It is critical that you start with a suitable  container and even more critical is to ensure that the temperature of the frozen cargo is maintained throughout the journey. It is recommended that a temperature setting of -20C or lower be used for shipping frozen foodstuffs.

Sophisticated equipment

Regardless of how tough the demands of your frozen commodity, we have the containers to match. These containers are equipped with accurate temperature monitoring sensors that allow us to take immediate action in the rare event the temperature rises or drops outside the required zone.

Integral reefer containers

We operate a reefer fleet with the latest, most sophisticated technology. Our integral reefer containers use the ozone-friendly refrigerant R134a and are available in both six metre (20ft) and 12m (40ft) high cube configurations Heavy payload containers, which have a capacity of up to 29.7 metric tonnes, are also popular.

Containers feature a datalogger - a device for monitoring the temperature throughout the shipping process. Even when the datalogger is unplugged during port operations, it continues to record the temperature by means of a back-up battery.


Your frozen cargo is just as well-protected during inland travel, as it is on board our cargo ships. We have a range of stand-alone generator sets or gensets that can be attached to either a truck chassis or a reefer. These gensets help preserve the integrity of your frozen cargo for up to 7 days during inland travel. Your frozen cargo arrives in its desired condition at your final destination.

Magnum containers

Designed with the seafood industry in mind, our containers represent an innovative approach to reefer technology. Built to maintain a set point of -35°C (–31°F) in an ambient environment of up to 50°C (122°F), Magnum has one of the highest cooling capacities of any reefer container.

Magnum containers are ideal for transporting seafood. They help extend product shelf life, maintain quality and preserve texture, especially of frozen vegetables and ice-cream.


Sorties are an innovation from Safmarine. They are reefer containers that have been modified to serve as a sorting area for frozen products - mainly seafood. The cargo is loaded into the Sortie through a hole in the roof directly from the reefer vessel or fishing vessel. This minimizes exposure to ambient temperatures during the sorting and/or stuffing operation.

With Sorties, the time spent in the sorting operation is reduced thereby reducing a fishing vessel's port expenses. 

Our service features for frozen cargo

  • Pre-trip inspections (PTI) prior to container delivery
  • Technical support and back-up, before and during carriage
  • Constant temperature monitoring
  • Specialized equipment available - including heavy payload containers and temperature probes
  • Container tracking
  • Reliable schedules; excellent transit times; predictable departure/arrival dates
  • On-carriage opportunities under through bills of lading
  • Expert advice from multilingual staff
  • Effective transhipment connections
  • Wide range of port calls
  • Door-to-door options
  • Dedicated web-page for reefer customers - e-Business, web bill of lading, tracking and tracing and more
  • Dedicated container depots
  • Collect freight on select routes
  • Total transportation solution - from shipper's inland warehouse to consignee's warehouse at destination

New to reefer shipping?

If you’re new to this industry, we can hold your hand through the process. We have more than half a century of experience in shipping temperature-sensitive cargo. 

We’ve developed a special service for reefer customers that will help you transport efficiently from origin to final point of distribution.

With Safmarine, you get fast transit times, efficient inland connections and smooth transhipments.

With Safmarine you also get advice on how to deal with the effect extreme climatic conditions can have on your cargo; on the specific temperature needed for your product; on aspects such as pre-cooling, humidity and storage - and much more.

Refrigerated containers versus bulk shipping or airfreight

If you're currently using air-freight or bulk vessels to ship chilled or frozen cargo, you can significantly slash your costs and enjoy and unbroken cold chain and enhanced protection of your shipment with our temperature-sensitive shipping options.

When you compare cost per unit - considering the cost of the entire transportation chain, from point of origin to final point of distribution - you will realise that refrigerated containers offer significant cost and other benefits over air cargo and bulk shipping. Why not give it a try? 

For more information and help with shipping chilled or frozen cargo, please get in touch with a Safmarine office near you.

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