Refrigerated shipping containers are becoming increasingly important components of the South African food supply chain.
Repurposed marine refrigerated shipping containers are used by farmers to store and transport their products because they’re portable, affordable, and practical. They are also used by a range of industries that require portable cold storage, on a temporary, seasonal, or longer-term basis. Here we consider some factors driving demand for refrigerated containers in South Africa.
Increased global demand for South African fruit
South Africa produces some of the highest quality fruit on the planet, and there is growing international demand for our products, along with the refrigerated containers required to preserve and ship them.
At present, fruit accounts for 90% of total refrigeration container exports, with citrus fruits, apples, pears, and grapes making up the bulk of our exports. The majority of this is shipped out of the port of Durban, with primary import markets in the European Union (35%), the United Kingdom (15%), and Russia (7%).
Demand for flexible, accessible cold storage on farms
According to CNBC Africa, as much as 40% of produce harvested in Africa is ruined before it can be sold. The situation in South Africa is not quite as extreme, due to the relatively advanced cold storage infrastructure already available in the country.
However, South African farmers do experience significant losses in potential revenue every year due to insufficient cold storage. Farmers must have cold storage on their farms during harvest, and for these storage facilities to meet the standards required for export.
Refrigerated containers are an ideal solution for fruit farmers. Their portability means they can be located and packed on-site during harvesting.
This not only decreases the amount of time required to get produce into cold storage, but also reduces the need for moving products between cold storage facilities as it moves down the supply chain, reducing the risk of temperature spikes. In addition, the number of refrigeration containers on-site can be easily scaled up or down to reflect crop yields.
Smaller farmers who supply local markets are realising they can benefit extensively from maintaining refrigeration containers on their farms. They can prevent a variety of pests from damaging crops after harvest and control the release of ethylene gas to prevent ripening and spoilage, improving the quality and value of crops that reach the market.
Refrigeration containers may also allow farmers to store crop surpluses when the market is saturated during the harvesting season, which can boost crop value.
General cold storage applications
Over the last decade, there has been a big increase in the number of outdoor events and festivals held around South Africa, ranging from endurance sports events in remote wilderness areas to trance parties or music festivals held on farms or smallholdings.
The locations used for these events are typically lacking in infrastructure, and because events are often scheduled during the summer, cold storage can be a real problem. Refrigeration containers have proven to be an ideal solution to this issue.
Because they are transportable and compact, organisers can hire temporary cold storage facilities and have them delivered to the event. This assists them in attracting food and beverage vendors and improving the service that they deliver to event patrons.
The cost-effectiveness, practicality, and especially the ease on the environment of our new single-phase refrigeration containers have has also been recognised by the hospitality industry and shops that sell perishable produce. Refrigeration containers allow them to scale their cold storage capacity up and down as required by seasonal business flows, without having to invest in developing additional facilities at their business premises.
Refrigeration Containers for rent at Big Box Containers
Big Box Containers is a leading supplier of refrigeration containers. Our standard three-phase- and environmentally friendly single-phase refrigeration containers come in 12- and 6-meter sizes. They can store items at temperatures ranging from -20° C to 20° C. They’re portable, secure, efficient, and a single unit can be partitioned to store both chilled and frozen goods.