Refrigerated containers, also known as reefers, account for a growing share of the refrigerated cargo being transported around the world. In 1980, 33% of the refrigerated transport capacity in maritime shipping was containerised, this share rapidly climbed to 72% in 2013. Because of the additional insulation, and particularly because of the power plant, a 40-foot reefer costs in the range of 6 times more than a regular container.
A cold chain industry has emerged to service containerised reefer trade. So, how can we “keep it cool”? What are the challenges for the containerised reefer trade? Following their first viewpoint in Issue 64 of PTI, PortEconomics members Theo Notteboom and Jean-Paul Rodrigue continue ‘looking inside the box’ initiative with their viewpoint published in the 65th issue of Port Technology Initernational (PTI).
Reefer containers are competing with reefer ships, and the former are rapidly gaining market share. Traditional systems built around reefer ships, where food sits on pallets in a refrigerated hold and is delivered to a cold store on arrival, are shifting to systems to handle goods in containers with refrigeration units, sometimes bypassing cold storage on arrival. The world’s refrigerated ship fleet is fast shrinking as a new generation of container ships with a large reefer capacity transforms how fruit, meat and other perishable foods move around the globe.