Shipping over 1.9 million refrigerated containers (also known as ‘reefer’) in 2020 alone, topping its previous record of 1.8 million in 2019, MSC continues to successfully sail the seas bringing fresh produce to consumers around the world.
A world leader in reefer cargo services
2020 was another successful year for MSC’s reefer services as we battled through the COVID pandemic to continue to deliver essential foods and medicines. Being a world leader in refrigerated transport solutions, we operate one of the world’s largest and most advanced reefer container fleets: in 2020 MSC shipped a record 1.9 million reefer containers.
But what exactly are reefers and what products do they transport?
Reefers are continuously-powered, temperature-controlled containers that keep perishable products and temperature-sensitive cargo fresh for the entire journey — from truck, to train, to barge, to ship and every step in between. They’re how we keep food safe and in top quality condition over long distances.
Global demand for fresh fruit has grown by as much as 40% over the last decade. This was further intensified in 2020 by a greater demand for immunity boosting foods rich in vitamin C, such as fresh fruit, as part of a growing trend in personal health and nutrition, amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
In order to meet an increased demand for our reefer cargo service in existing and new destinations around the world, we have been expanding our reefer fleet for temperature-sensitive cargo, notably by adding 15,000 Star Cool units in 2020.
Further developments in our services can be found in our Gülsün Class container ships. Thanks to their improved design and larger size, these giant ocean-going vessels are able to carry over 2,000 additional reefer containers than the previous generation. The increased capacity has helped service the high volumes of trade activity between Europe and Asia, boosting the trade of food, drinks, pharmaceuticals and other chilled and frozen products.
“Reefer containers and temperature-controlled solutions have gained popularity over the course of 2020. At MSC, our customers remain our top priority and we’re glad that we’ve been able to keep their reefer operations functioning amid the pandemic. The growing demand has also opened up new market possibilities, which we have been able to support thanks to our continual investment in the best technologies for refrigerated transport solutions.” explains Giuseppe Prudente, MSC Global Chief Logistics Officer.
In 2020, MSC made the first ever shipment of Chilean clementines to Hong Kong, connecting Asia and Latin America via its INCA Service. Shortly after, MSC successfully delivered the first ever shipment of avocados from Colombia to China, a journey made possible through our advanced reefer technology.
We are continually investing in the best technologies for our reefer containers to ensure perishable goods maintain their quality all the way to their final destination. We use both Controlled Atmosphere (CA) and Cold Treatment (CT) technology to transport a wide variety of fruit and vegetables around the world in an optimum condition at all times.
MSC’s reefer containers feature Controlled Atmosphere (CA) integrated technology such as XtendFRESH™ and Star Cool®. We also have strong partnerships with other suppliers like Liventus®, Maxtend® and Purfresh®. Such systems extend the shelf life of perishable goods by regulating oxygen and carbon dioxide levels, which slows down the ripening process and keeps fruit fresh for longer.
Cold Treatment (CT) is a chemical-free way to eliminate fruit flies and other insects. The process lowers the temperature of the fruit pulp and maintains it for a specified period of time, with varying settings, depending on the country of origin, the type of commodity and the country of destination.
It’s partly thanks to the increasing innovation of reefer technology that MSC is able to continuously push the boundaries of container shipping solutions, connecting farmers and producers with new markets around the world and allowing people to enjoy fresh produce from distant countries year-round.
The market for reefer services is set to grow in the coming years and with a fleet of 560 vessels, MSC is well-positioned to service that demand as an established leader in refrigerated cargo transportation in many regions. As part of our unrivalled customer service, we have more than 1,000 reefer experts available to advise customers on their transportation needs.