Trade Guide

Preserving Freshness: The Journey of Perishable Goods from Harvest to Plate


Perishable and temperature-sensitive goods, renowned for their fleeting shelf life, demand meticulous handling to stave off spoilage. This broad category encompasses a plethora of items, spanning from vibrant fresh fruits and crisp vegetables to creamy dairy products, succulent meats, tantalizing seafood, and delectable bakery goods. To maintain their optimal quality and taste, these items often require refrigeration or precise temperature control during transit, ensuring they reach consumers in prime condition.

In this article, our focus delves into the intricate journey of fruits, vegetables, and frozen and chilled meats, tracing their path from the moment they are harvested to their arrival at the consumer’s doorstep. Each stage of this journey presents unique challenges and considerations, from the careful selection and handling of produce to the intricacies of freezing and chilling meats for preservation. Throughout our exploration, we aim to provide tangible examples from each category, offering insights into the processes involved and the measures taken to ensure freshness and safety.

By shedding light on the behind-the-scenes efforts involved in the handling and transportation of perishable goods, we hope to deepen understanding of the complexities of the supply chain and the importance of careful management in preserving the quality and integrity of these essential food items.

Guidelines for Selecting Suitable Containers for Fresh Fruits and Veggies

Ensuring the freshness of your fruits and vegetables begins with selecting the appropriate storage containers. Here’s a straightforward guide:

1. Container cleanliness: Maintaining clean containers is essential for ensuring the safety and quality of shipped goods. Before loading anything into the containers, it’s important to vacuum, sweep, or wash them thoroughly to remove dirt and prevent pests from entering. Avoid scraping containers on the ground to minimize dirt accumulation. After cleaning, inspect the containers for any remaining debris. Regular cleaning using appropriate materials and keeping detailed records helps meet international shipping standards and ensures the safety and reliability of shipped goods.

2. Container integrity: When selecting containers for fresh fruits and vegetables, consider both inner and outer damage potential. Inner damage, such as inadequate lining or cushioning, can lead to bruising or spoilage during transit. Assess the outer structure to ensure containers can withstand stacking and transportation without compromising product integrity. Choose containers with reinforced exteriors and proper ventilation features to protect the produce while in transit. Opt for containers that balance durability and ventilation to maintain freshness and quality throughout the shipping process.

3. Temperature control: Verify the functionality of the temperature control system when selecting containers for perishable goods. Ensure the system can maintain the necessary temperature to keep fruits and vegetables fresh during transportation. Choose containers equipped with reliable temperature control mechanisms, such as refrigeration or insulation. Regular monitoring and checks help ensure consistent temperature levels, preventing spoilage during transport.

4. Precooling and efficient stuffing: Consider precooling and efficient stuffing methods when choosing containers for fresh produce. Precooling involves rapidly cooling the produce before loading to slow down ripening and maintain freshness during transit. Utilize methods like forced-air cooling or hydro-cooling for effective precooling. Efficient stuffing entails arranging the produce carefully in the container to optimize space usage and minimize damage during transport. Proper stacking and appropriate packaging materials help prevent movement and bruising. Adequate spacing and ventilation also prevent heat and moisture buildup, preserving the quality of the produce throughout the shipping process.

Refrigeration for Exporting Fresh Fruits and Vegetables

Refrigeration plays a vital role in preserving the quality of fresh fruits and vegetables during export, ensuring they reach global markets in optimal condition. This guide highlights key principles for refrigerating various types of produce, from apples to zucchinis, to maintain freshness and flavor across borders. By understanding the fundamentals of refrigeration, exporters can enhance the quality and marketability of their fruits and vegetables. Let’s explore the essential steps to refrigerate produce for export and ensure premium quality throughout the journey.

Here are the recommended storage conditions for various fresh produce items during export:

ProductTemperature (°C)Ventilation Setting (CMH)
Apples-1 to +410 to 60
Bananas (green)+13 to +1425 to 60
Beans (Green, snap)+4 to +720 to 30
Cabbage (early crop)020 to 60
Cabbage (late crop)020 to 60
Coconuts0 to +20 to 25
Grapefruit+10 to +1515 to 50
Grapes-1 to 010 to 15
Mandarin Oranges+4 to +815 to 25
Mangoes+10 to +1425 to 30
Onion (dry)0 to +210 to 15
Oranges (various)+2 to +1015 to 25
Pineapples+8 to +1215 to 25
Potatoes (table)+4 to +8+32 to +54
Tomatoes+7 to +1515 to 30

Monitoring and maintaining fresh fruits and vegetables for export involves several crucial steps. Here’s how to ensure successful international exports:

Temperature Control: Maintain the optimal temperature throughout the entire process, from storage to transportation. Utilize reliable refrigeration systems to preserve freshness.

Smart Storage: Implement intelligent storage solutions to prevent damage and extend the shelf life of produce. Utilize specialized storage facilities equipped with appropriate environmental conditions.

Quality Checks: Regularly inspect the quality of fruits and vegetables, particularly during packing and transit. Promptly address any issues to preserve freshness and minimize spoilage.

Good Packaging: Employ high-quality packaging materials to safeguard produce from damage during handling and shipping. Experiment with various packaging options to identify the most effective ones.

Tracking Technology: Utilize advanced tracking technology to monitor the journey of the produce in real-time. Track their location and condition to ensure timely delivery and maintain quality standards.

Clean and Safe Handling: Maintain cleanliness and safety protocols throughout the handling and transportation process. Ensure that storage areas and vehicles are properly sanitized to prevent contamination and ensure product integrity.

Bananas Harvesting and Handling

Once a banana fruit is harvested, it undergoes three physiological development stages: the pre-climacteric or "green life" stage, the climacteric and ripening stage, and finally the ripe-to-eat and senescence stage.

Pre-Climacteric Stage:

During the "green life stage," which occurs from harvest until the onset of the respiratory climacteric, metabolic activity is low. The aim is to prolong this period, achieved through methods such as promoting a naturally long green life through effective pre-harvest management, harvesting at an early stage of fruit maturity, and maintaining low temperatures (around 13°C) during transport. Sealed polyethylene bags are often used to reduce water loss, oxygen concentration, and increase carbon dioxide concentration, thus extending the pre-climacteric stage.

Climacteric Stage:

In the climacteric stage, characterized by a rapid increase in ethylene production, irreversible changes occur. This stage marks a sharp rise in respiration, initiating rapid fruit ripening.

Ripening Stage:

During ripening, various changes occur simultaneously. Tissue softening begins, starch converts into sugars in both the pulp and peel, and cell wall strength decreases. The peel transitions from light green to yellow as chlorophyll breaks down. The pulp softens and becomes sweeter as sugar levels increase, accompanied by the development of a characteristic aroma. Enzyme systems drive these changes. Eventually, the peel turns brown, and the pulp becomes gelatinous. Ripeness can be determined visually by changes in external color, angularity of the fingers, and color of the flesh.

Export Standards:

Bananas intended for export must meet minimum size and grade standards, which vary depending on the variety and market specifications.

Controlled Ripening:

When mature bananas ripen naturally, they may soften but lack uniform color change, resulting in dull, pale-yellow peel that is unappealing. To achieve a vibrant yellow peel color, firm pulp texture, and optimal flavor, bananas undergo controlled ripening. This process involves exposing them to ethylene in a sealed chamber or room, along with controlled temperature and relative humidity (RH). Immediately after harvest, bananas do not respond to ethylene treatment, or at best, they may initiate ripening but won’t achieve the desired bright yellow coloration. Controlled ripening is primarily done to supply retailers and wholesalers with fruit at the desired ripeness stage preferred by consumers.

The peel color serves as a ripening indicator, often rated on a scale from 1 to 7. Dark green represents stage 1, progressing to full yellow with flecking at stage 7. Bananas are typically ripened to stage 3 to 4 before being delivered to distribution centers, retailers, or wholesalers.

Premium quality bananas exhibit cleanliness, being free from defects such as scars, physical damage, insect injury, and latex staining. They are also free from decay, possess adequate finger length and diameter, lack excess curvature, and upon ripening, display the desired uniform bright yellow color and sensory attributes, including flavor (sweetness, acidity) and aroma.

Bananas Cooling and Storage


During long-distance transport, bananas need to be maintained in the pre-climacteric state to enable artificial ripening in ripening rooms later. To prevent premature ripening, several conditions must be met. Firstly, there should be no delay between cutting the fruit and loading it into refrigerated space. Secondly, the cooling process itself should be as rapid as possible, preferably within 24 hours of harvesting or cutting. Lastly, it’s crucial to prevent ethylene accumulation in the surrounding atmosphere.


For storage, Cavendish bananas can be kept at approximately +13.2°C for up to around 28 days in regular packs, and up to 40 days in ‘Banavac’ packaging. Banavac packaging involves polyethylene bags 0.4 mm thick, with carbon dioxide content raised to 5% and oxygen content reduced to 2% (creating a "modified atmosphere"). Potassium permanganate is added to absorb ethylene, inducing dormancy in the fruit and interrupting respiration processes, thereby extending storage life. Bananas are typically packed in corrugated fiberboard boxes as whole hands, clusters, or individual fingers, with an average weight ranging from 13 to 18 kg for premium fruit, depending on market preferences.

Chilling Injury:

Chilling injury is a significant concern for bananas, affecting both green and ripe fruit. Green fruit are slightly more sensitive than ripe ones. Chilling injury occurs when fruit are exposed to temperatures below about 13°C for varying durations, depending on factors such as cultivar, maturity, and condition of the fruit. Symptoms include discoloration, failure to ripen, and susceptibility to mechanical injury. Ripe fruit, when chilled, may turn dull brown when exposed to higher temperatures and are highly susceptible to handling marks, with discoloration occurring even with slight pressure. Inflicted chill damage may not become apparent until 18 to 24 hours later. Skin abrasions can also occur due to scuffing against other fruits or surfaces, accelerating water loss and resulting in brown to black discoloration under low relative humidity conditions. Dropping of bananas can induce browning of the flesh without damaging the skin.Top of Form

Mixed Loads:

Bananas should not be shipped with ethylene-producing commodities.


Low oxygen levels below 2% may result in dull yellow or brown skin discoloration, improper ripening, and off-flavors. High carbon dioxide levels exceeding 5% can cause premature softening of the fruit while still green, leading to undesirable texture and flavor. Presence of ethylene can trigger premature and rapid ripening during transit.

Main Benefits of Controlled Atmospheres:

Controlled atmospheres offer benefits such as delaying ripening, reducing crown rot incidence, and maintaining a fresher condition (evidenced by latex flowing through vascular tissues) upon arrival at the destination. The effects of reduced oxygen and/or elevated carbon dioxide levels depend on temperature and exposure duration. Removing ethylene gas can further extend the green life of bananas, both under ambient and modified atmosphere conditions. Ventilation procedures should be considered, especially during overseas transportation.

Storage Disorders:

Various storage disorders may affect bananas, including anthracnose, black heart, black sigatoka, brown spot, chilling injury, crown rot, finger drop, heat injury, phytophthora, pitting, premature ripening, rhizopus rot, and sooty mold.

The Transport and Handling of Bananas

Banana Transportation:

Bananas hold a significant position among perishable goods in international trade. They are transported either in the holds of reefer vessels or in refrigerated shipping containers. A voyage can span from a few days to several weeks, depending on the distance between the loading and discharging ports. In recent years, the banana trade has increasingly shifted towards containerization, marking a notable trend. The international banana trade primarily revolves around the harvesting and transportation of hard, green, unripe fruit, which undergoes ripening in the destination country.

Temperature Considerations:

The optimal temperature for shipping bananas is approximately 13.3°C, which helps extend their postharvest life. Below this temperature threshold, there is a risk of chilling injury. Unlike many other fruits, bananas are typically presented to carriers at ambient temperature, with the responsibility of cooling falling to the ship or container.

Technological Advances:

Technological advancements have played a pivotal role in shaping the banana trade. The introduction of cardboard boxes for packing bananas and the mechanization of handling techniques, including the use of cranes, forklifts, and robots, have greatly improved the efficiency of handling this delicate fruit. Progress in refrigeration technologies has significantly enhanced banana reefer transport, enabling faster delivery to consuming centers while maintaining quality.

Cold Chain Management:

Modern transportation methods offer better control over the cold chain and enable monitoring of the entire process through computerized systems. During sea transport, bananas are subjected to controlled atmosphere conditions, effectively inducing a state of dormancy to prolong their shipping life. Various technologies, such as controlled atmosphere, humidity control, remote monitoring, improved airflow, enhanced insulation materials, and internal monitoring controls, contribute to the efficient transportation of bananas while maintaining quality.

The banana supply chain is as follows

Banana Producers:

Banana producers can vary from small independent growers to national or multinational companies. Production sites are primarily located near plantations in South-Central America.

Transport to Loading Port:

Boxes of bananas are transferred from production sites to the loading port, where they are consolidated into pallets and loaded directly onto bulk ships or reefer containers.

Sea Transportation:

Bananas are transported by sea through independent reefer carriers or by reefer fleets owned by multinational companies.

Importing Countries:

Upon arrival in importing countries, bananas may pass through importers before reaching retail outlets for sale to consumers. At the port of destination, vessels are unloaded and cargo is transported to retailers’ infrastructures, such as reefer warehouses and platforms.

Discharge Process:

Before the vessel’s arrival, a barcode manifest of the cargo is electronically sent to the terminal, providing details on the volume of products and packaging types. Equipment used in the discharge process includes quayside cranes, forklifts, and pallet jacks.

Transportation of Reefer Containers:

Reefer containers transported by mainline container vessels typically arrive at full container terminals in the port. From there, they are brought to banana facilities by truck or barge if available.

Direct Calls by Reefer Vessels:

Reefer vessels equipped with reefer containers on deck call directly at banana terminals. They first unload reefer containers before handling below-deck cargo operations of palletized banana boxes.

Banana Discharge Equipment Based on Unit Load

 Handling Reefer Containers

Discharging reefer containers involves using mobile shore cranes or, when available, STS container cranes. These containers are connected to electrical outlets at the terminal and their cargo is later stripped in a nearby warehouse. Forklifts transfer the pallets from containers to the warehouse for further processing, following the same procedure as with other pallets.

Pallet Discharging Procedure

To begin the pallet discharging process from the hull of the reefer vessel, the first batch of four pallets is unloaded using a sling. These pallets, prepared and bound with belts at the port of origin, create openings in each level of the hull’s hatch. Subsequently, forklifts inside the vessel manage the remaining pallets. After being picked up by a sling, the initial pallets are collected by forklifts at the quayside and transferred to the temperature-controlled warehouse.

Inside the vessel, pallets are further handled using pallet jacks and forklifts, placing them in pallet cages or trays accommodating up to eight pallets, depending on the equipment. Upon offloading at the quayside, forklifts awaiting transfer the pallets to the warehouse. This limited exposure to open air occurs only during transportation from the quayside to the warehouse. Some reefer vessels feature side doors for loading and discharging, facilitated by cargo elevators. However, these operations typically lack the efficiency of using the terminal’s cranes.

Handling Loose Boxes and Introduction of Palletization

Traditionally, loose box discharge occurred within the ship’s hull, facilitated by spiral unloaders capable of reaching any point in the hold. Boxes were manually loaded onto telescopic belts, automatically traveling into the spiral for unloading. Upon discharge, the boxes were directed to the warehouse via conveyor belts. Palletizing robots were employed to palletize the boxes before storage in the cold store.

The advent of pallet cages and containerization significantly boosted efficiency, with the number of banana boxes handled per minute per crane increasing from 50 with spiral unloaders to 385 with pallet cages and 480 with containerized pallets.

Once the pallets are offloaded from the vessel, they are promptly transferred to the warehouse. Depending on the type of warehouse, whether automated or not, different processes apply:

Automated Warehouse:

In automated warehouses, an automated storage and retrieval system (AS/RS) is employed. Upon entering the reception area, pallets are placed on a conveyor belt using a forklift. While moving along the conveyor, pallets pass a scanning device that reads the barcode affixed to the carton, updating the warehouse management system. Each pallet follows a predetermined path to the stacking area, where they are stored according to temperature requirements.

Traditional Warehouse:

Traditional warehouses typically utilize block stacking methods. Pallets are stacked in aisles based on temperature requirements and delivery methods (e.g., vessel, container).

When the receiver or buyer requests their cargo, the pallets are retrieved from the warehouse and transported to the shipping area. Here, they are loaded onto dedicated trucks. During this process, the trucks are parked in designated docking spaces at the warehouse. Forklifts are used to load the pallets onto the trucks, minimizing exposure to uncontrolled air. These trucks are refrigerated trailers, ensuring proper temperature control during transportation.

Additional info

Optimum Carrying Temperature:

  • 13.3°C is the optimum carrying temperature.
  • Optimum storage and holding temperatures for green bananas range from 13.2°C to 14.0°C.

Highest Freezing Point:

  • The highest freezing point is -0.8°C, and chilling may occur at temperatures below 13°C.

Acceptable Product Temperature at Loading into Containers:

  • Ideally, bananas should be pre-cooled, although this is generally not practiced.
  • The pulp should not exceed ambient temperature by more than 2°C; in any case, it should not exceed 30°C upon loading.

Optimum Humidity:

  • Humidity levels of 85% to 95% are optimal.

Ventilation Setting for Containers:

  • Ventilation setting for containers should be at 25 m³/hr.

Storage Life:

  • Bananas have a storage life of approximately 4 weeks.


  • Bananas are climacteric fruits.

Ethylene Production and Sensitivity:

  • They have medium ethylene production and high ethylene sensitivity.

Modified/Controlled Atmosphere:

  • The recommended modified/controlled atmosphere consists of 2%-5% CO2 and 2%-5% O2.

Potential Benefits:

  • Bananas offer excellent potential benefits under these conditions.

Avocado Harvesting and Handling

Avocado Classification: Avocados can be classified into three races:

  • A) Tropical: Variable shape with low oil content.
  • B) Semi-tropical: Longer shape with higher oil content.
  • C) Subtropical: Round shape with thicker skin and moderate oil content. Many commercial cultivars are hybrids of these races, showing variability not only between races but also within cultivars. Notably, ripe cultivars may exhibit changes in peel color, transitioning from green to black or purple.

Commercial Cultivars: Avocados are available in various cultivars, with sizes and shapes differing. The primary cultivar is Hass, while others include Bacon, Booth 1, Fuerte, Ettinger, Fuchs, Gwen, Lamb, Lula, Pinkerton, Pollock, Reed, Waldin, and Zutano.

Quality Grading: During grading, key quality criteria include size, skin color, freedom from wounds, blemishes, insect damage, spray residues, and other contaminants. When ripe, absence of diseases, physiological disorders, and physical damage are crucial. Preferences for size, shape, and color may vary regionally.

Oil Content and Sensory Quality: Avocados contain significant oil content, sometimes exceeding 30% of fresh weight, which greatly influences sensory quality akin to olive oil. Ripening Process: Avocados do not ripen on the tree but can be held for months after physiological maturity. Time-to-ripen reduces with longer tree retention. Ripe Hass and Lamb Hass varieties exhibit dark, purple-black or black skins, while green-skinned cultivars maintain greenness when ripe. Avocados are considered ripe when the fruit is fully soft.

Avocado Cooling and Storage

Pre-cooling and Ethylene-Free Storage:

Ripening and softening of avocados can be delayed by promptly pre-cooling the fruit after harvest and storing them in an ethylene-free environment at optimal temperatures.

Optimum Storage Conditions:

Storage conditions depend on cultivar, growing conditions, maturity, and required storage duration. Generally, unripe avocados should be stored at 5°C to 12°C with a relative humidity (RH) of 95%. For Hass avocados, early-season fruit should be stored at 5°C to 7°C, while late-season fruit at 4°C to 5.5°C. Quality of Hass fruit diminishes after 3 to 4 weeks, posing challenges beyond 6 weeks of storage.

Chilling Damage:

Chilling damage manifests as brown flesh, sunken spots, and browning skin, leading to softening and breakdown around the stone. Damage occurs typically at temperatures below 3°C, but ripe fruit are less sensitive due to maturity. Avocados have the lowest water content among fruits.

Voyage Considerations:

During transit, controlling respiration processes (CO2 release, water vapor, ethylene, and heat) is crucial to achieve desired ripeness upon arrival. Inadequate ventilation may cause fermentation and cargo rot due to increased CO2 levels and insufficient oxygen supply. Ethylene may be used post-transit to stimulate uniform ripening, similar to bananas.

Mixed Loads

  • Avoid shipping with ethylene-producing commodities. Avocados emit a faint, pleasant odor and generally do not affect other products, except for pineapples.


  • Oxygen levels below 1% can result in off-flavors and flesh browning.
  • Carbon dioxide levels above 15% may lead to skin browning and off-flavors.
  • Variances in sensitivity to low oxygen and high carbon dioxide levels may occur among different avocado varieties.

Storage Disorders

Alternaria rot, Anthracnose, Bacterial soft rot, Blotch, Blue mould, Chilling injury, Fusarium, Phytophthora, Rhizopus rot, Rind discoloration, Scab, Sooty blotch, Stem end rot.

Additional info

Optimum Carrying Temperature:

  • Booth 1, Lula: 4.0°C to 4.5°C
  • Ettinger: 5.5°C
  • Fuerte/Hass: 5.0°C to 8.0°C
  • Fuchs, Pollock, Waldin: 10.0°C to 13.0°C

Highest Freezing Point: -0.9°C/-1.6°C, chilling may occur at temperatures below 3°C.

Acceptable Product Temperature at Loading into Containers: Maximum 2°C above carrying temperature.

Optimum Humidity: 90%

Ventilation Setting for Containers: 60 m³/hr

Storage Life:

  • Booth 1, Lula: 3 – 4 weeks
  • Ettinger, Fuerte, Hass: 2 – 3 weeks
  • Fuchs, Pollock, Waldin: 2 weeks

Climacteric / Non-climacteric: Climacteric

Ethylene Production/Sensitivity: High

Modified / Controlled Atmosphere: 3%-10% CO2; 2%-5% O2

Shipping of Avocado

 Shipping avocados presents unique challenges within the transportation industry, particularly due to the perishable nature of the cargo. Transporting food items requires careful consideration as they are susceptible to extreme temperatures, moisture, and physical damage. Ensuring the proper protection of shipments containing fruits, vegetables, and other perishable goods is paramount.

Avocados, like many other fruits, pose specific challenges during shipping due to their tendency to spoil when exposed to adverse conditions. Protecting avocados from spoilage and physical damage becomes imperative, especially when shipped alongside other cargo where the risk of crushing exists, such as with pallet or container shipping methods.

Avocado Shipping Risks

When shipping avocados or any food product, several risks must be considered. Understanding and mitigating these risks are crucial to ensure successful shipments.


Contamination poses a significant risk during the shipping process. Avocado shipments can be vulnerable to contamination at various stages. Utilizing protective measures such as Temcore liners or pallet covers helps safeguard against contamination during transportation, whether on trucks, in cargo containers, or at warehouses.


Avocados, like many perishable foods, are prone to spoiling, especially when exposed to extreme temperatures or moisture. Proper timing of avocado harvesting is essential, along with insulation to protect shipments. Exposure to excessive heat or moisture can accelerate spoilage. It’s crucial to avoid storing avocados in water, as recommended by the FDA, to prevent Listeria contamination.

Physical Damage

Avocados are delicate and susceptible to physical damage during shipping. Secure packaging in sturdy containers is essential to prevent crushing or bruising. Careful packing to avoid excessive movement within containers is necessary to prevent damage during transit.

Considerations for Avocado Shipping

When shipping avocados, several factors require careful consideration to ensure successful delivery:


Maintaining the appropriate temperature during shipping is critical for avocado quality. Temcore thermal blankets and pallet covers can help protect against extreme temperatures, ensuring avocados remain within the optimal temperature range of 40 to 55 degrees Fahrenheit.


Moisture can lead to contamination and spoilage of avocados. Utilizing insulated containers designed for refrigerated fruits and vegetables, along with proper packing methods to allow air circulation, helps mitigate moisture-related risks.

Packing Materials

Choosing suitable packing materials is essential for protecting avocados during shipping. Food-safe containers, biodegradable packing materials, and proper insulation are crucial considerations to safeguard avocados against damage and contamination.

Container Contents

Avocado shipments should be segregated from potential contaminants, ensuring they are shipped alongside other food-safe products. Temcore liners can offer additional protection against contamination during transit.

Shipping Time

Shipping time greatly impacts avocado quality. Avocados should be shipped early in the ripening process for long-distance shipments, preferably in refrigerated containers to prevent spoilage. Insulated covers or liners can help maintain quality during shorter-distance shipments.

Shipping Method

The chosen shipping method significantly affects the safety and integrity of avocado shipments. Proper packing and securing of pallets or containers are necessary to prevent tipping or damage. Consideration of shipping duration and potential expedited options is essential for timely delivery.

How to Prepare an Avocado Shipment

Now that you understand the risks involved in shipping avocados, let’s delve into the crucial steps for preparing your shipment. Starting with the harvesting process, promptly refrigerate the avocados to maintain their freshness for shipping. Once refrigerated, you can proceed with preparing your shipment.

1. Pack Crates

Begin by carefully packing the avocados into fruit crates that allow for adequate airflow. Utilize packing materials between the crates to prevent them from exerting pressure on the avocados. Ensure gentle handling to avoid damaging the fruit during packing.

2. Build and Secure Pallets

Once the crates are loaded, assemble a pallet and securely wrap it. This step helps prevent pallet tipping and facilitates the installation of a Temcore pallet cover. If transporting via truck, apply the pallet cover for added protection.

3. Load and Protect the Shipping Container

For shipments via shipping container, place Temcore blankets atop the palletized avocados and utilize a Temcore liner to safeguard the container. These blankets and liners are reusable, so ensure they are cleaned and stored appropriately for future shipments.


Understanding Cereal Grains

Cereals, essentially grasses, are grown primarily for their grain, which is the edible part. This grain, known scientifically as a caryopsis, comprises the endosperm, germ, and bran. They’re vital as staple crops worldwide, offering significant food energy.

Nutritional Value and Consumption Patterns

In their whole grain form, cereals are abundant sources of various nutrients including vitamins, minerals, carbohydrates, fats, oils, and proteins. However, refining processes often strip away many of these nutrients, leaving behind mainly carbohydrates. In many developing nations, grains like rice, wheat, millet, or maize form a major portion of daily diets, while in developed countries, cereal consumption is still substantial but more varied.

Cultivation Methods and Varieties

The cultivation techniques for cereal crops share similarities despite the distinct characteristics of each species. Most cereals are annual plants, meaning they are planted once and harvested once. Some, like wheat, rye, oats, and barley, thrive in cooler climates, while others, like rice and sorghum, prefer warmer conditions. There’s also a growing interest in perennial grain plants due to erosion control benefits and reduced farming costs.

Seasonal Adaptations and Growth Patterns

Cereals can be categorized into cool-season and warm-season types, each adapted to specific climates. Cool-season cereals, like wheat and barley, thrive in temperate regions and are either winter or spring varieties. Winter varieties are planted in autumn, go dormant in winter, and mature in late spring or early summer, while spring varieties are planted and mature within the same spring-summer season.

Harvesting and Processing

Once the cereal plants reach maturity and their seeds develop, they are harvested. In developed countries, this is often done with machinery like combine harvesters, while in developing nations, various methods, including manual labor, are employed depending on cost factors. After harvest, the grains undergo processing to become breakfast cereals, a popular choice for the first meal of the day.

Breakfast Cereals: Consumption and Varieties

Breakfast cereals are processed grain products commonly consumed with milk, juice, water, or yogurt. They may also include fruits and are sometimes fortified with vitamins. While some boast health benefits due to high fiber or oat content, others may contain high sugar levels. Many breakfast cereals are manufactured using extrusion methods.

Shipment and Storage Risks for Cereals

Mildew Risk in Damp Storage

Cereals are prone to mildew if stored in damp conditions. Moisture content plays a critical role in preventing spoilage during storage.

Dehydration for Wet Harvests

In cases where crops are harvested in wet weather, the grain may not dry sufficiently in the field to prevent spoilage. In such instances, the grain is typically sent to a dehydrating facility where artificial heat is used to dry it.

Optimal Moisture Levels

The safe moisture content for cereals typically falls around 15%. However, for other feeding stuffs like cattle cake and bone meal, this figure may be lower, around 12% and 9.5% respectively. These percentages correspond to an equilibrium humidity of 70 to 75% relative humidity (RH). Exceeding this humidity level in storage can lead to moisture uptake by the outer layers of the material, promoting mold growth.

Protection from Pests and Contaminants

Storage facilities must be safeguarded against small grain pests, rodents, and birds, which can damage or contaminate the stored cereals.

Frozen Meat

Deep frozen meat, including various types such as beef, veal, pork, lamb, venison, and game, is an essential component of the food industry. This article explores the different aspects of marketing, transportation, freezing techniques, and quality maintenance of frozen meat.

Marketing and Transportation:

Meat is marketed and transported in several forms:

  1. Frozen carcasses and primal cuts (e.g., sides, legs, etc.)
  2. Frozen retail cuts
  3. Frozen mince, including products like hamburgers

Maintaining proper temperatures during transportation is crucial. Frozen meat should ideally have a core temperature of -18°C. Regular temperature measurements and recording are necessary to ensure quality preservation.

Freezing Techniques and Quality Maintenance:

Freezing is employed to minimize physical, biochemical, and microbiological changes affecting the quality of meat during storage. A product is considered frozen when its center reaches a temperature of -12°C or lower.

The speed of freezing significantly influences the quality of frozen meat. Slow freezing leads to the formation of large ice crystals, whereas quick freezing produces smaller ice crystals, preserving the meat closer to its original quality.

Temperature Management and Quality Preservation:

Maintaining consistent temperatures throughout transportation and storage is critical to prevent re-crystallization, which can affect the appearance and utility value of frozen meat. Temperatures lower than specified should be avoided to minimize the risk of re-crystallization.

Effect of Temperature on Meat Quality:

Meat, although not a living organism, undergoes endogenic enzymatic activity and is susceptible to microbial growth. Lower temperatures retard these processes, while higher temperatures can lead to undesirable conditions such as thaw rigor and cold shortening.

Prevention Techniques:

Techniques such as electrical stimulation can prevent cold shortening and improve meat tenderness. Proper packaging, including plastic film or vacuum-sealed bags, is essential to maintain quality during freezing and storage.

Versatility of Meat as a Nutritious Source:

Meat stands as a versatile source of nutrition, offering various culinary possibilities. It can be prepared through different methods, including boiling, frying/roasting, salting, smoking, or processing into sausage. Each preparation method offers unique flavors and textures, enriching the dining experience and catering to diverse culinary preferences.

Frozen Meat Shipment and Packaging

Frozen meat, including quarters of beef, sides of pork, and whole carcasses of calf, sheep, and lamb, is transported with specific packaging methods:

  • Quarters of beef: Packaged in plastic bags and stockinet.
  • Sides of pork: Wrapped in stockinet.
  • Sheep, whole carcass: Enclosed in plastic bags and stockinet.
  • Boned portions: Wrapped in film and then placed in cartons.

The protective coverings must be clean and dry to maintain quality during transportation. Blood-stained or frozen down coverings indicate noncompliance with the necessary cold chain, leading to potential quality issues.

Storage Conditions and Quality Deterioration:

  • Frozen storage at temperatures ranging from -18°C to -25°C preserves meat for periods of one year or more, but each type of meat requires specific storage conditions.
  • Deterioration in organoleptic quality is the main problem with frozen storage, leading to changes in texture, granular fat, discoloration, and undesirable taste.
  • Microbial enzymes remain active, especially those attacking fat, while water loss from proteins further impacts quality.

Effects of Evaporation and Odor Absorption:

  • Weight loss through water evaporation can lead to freezer burn, especially in loose-packaged meats, favoring organoleptic deterioration.
  • Meat surfaces may dry, become porous, and encourage rancidity and aroma transfer.
  • Despite its limited rate, frozen meat absorbs odors from strong-smelling food products, depending on packaging and storage conditions.

Quality Parameters and Frozen Storage

After cooking, the eating quality of meat is primarily assessed based on tenderness, flavor, and juiciness, with appearance also playing a role. Generally, if frozen storage life is not exceeded, freezing and storage have minimal effect on these quality parameters. However, drip, or moisture loss, is significantly increased by freezing.

Factors Affecting Quality

Tenderness, a crucial characteristic of red meat, is influenced by the rate of chilling and the duration and temperature of ageing. Proper control of these factors is essential for maximizing eating quality. Rapid cooling helps reduce drip production.

Indicators of Incorrect Handling

Occasionally, meat exposed to higher temperatures before freezing may exhibit signs of depreciation, such as frozen coverings adhering to the meat or distortion of pieces. Dark muscle tissue coloration also indicates incorrect handling.

Quality Assurance Measures

Frozen meat must not show any trace of fresh blood or mold spots, as these indicate an increased risk of decomposition. Storage duration depends on temperature and relative humidity, with containers needing precooling to -18°C before loading.

Temperature Management and Recrystallization

Maintaining a core temperature of -18°C halts microbial activity and enzymatic degradation. Constant travel temperature is crucial to prevent recrystallization, which leads to the growth of ice crystals and deterioration in utility value. Snow formation within plastic bags indicates thawing damage.

Humidity Control and Surface Appearance

Relative humidity of 95% prevents surface drying, which can lead to freezer burn and impaired appearance. Moisture observation prompts adjustments to maintain humidity at the mold growth threshold of 75%. Care during loading and unloading in adverse weather conditions prevents discoloration and surface spoilage due to microorganisms.

Quality and Safety Standards in the Meat Industry

ISO Standards and Definition of Quality

The International Organization for Standardization (ISO) defines quality as the totality of features and characteristics of a product or service that impact its ability to meet stated or implied needs. High standards of quality and safety are essential in the meat industry to reduce the risk of meat-borne illnesses and minimize post-harvest losses.

Importance of Safe and Hygienic Practices

Appropriate practices in handling, manufacturing, refrigerating, and transporting meat and meat products help reduce outbreaks of meat-borne illnesses. Ensuring high standards of quality and safety is not only a matter of public health but also good economics, as it minimizes losses from spoilage, damage to trade, and consumer illnesses.

Need for Requisite Standards in Facilities

Meat processing companies must ensure that their handling, processing, and transportation facilities meet requisite standards. Adequate training of industry and control authority staff is necessary, along with establishing channels for consumer feedback.

Implementation of Food Safety Systems

Meat processing involves strict controls and measurements to ensure hygienic processing. Joining food safety systems such as Hazard Analysis Critical Control Points (HACCP) is highly recommended. HACCP identifies hazards and implements measures for their control, ensuring food safety and quality.

Benefits of HACCP System

The HACCP system is internationally recognized as the most cost-effective and reliable system for ensuring food safety. It involves identifying risks, minimizing them through hygienic design and layout, establishing measurable standards, and implementing monitoring systems. HACCP is flexible and applicable at all critical stages, from harvesting to reaching the consumer.

Cooperation and Stakeholder Involvement

Successful implementation of the HACCP system requires cooperation among all stakeholders. National capacity for introducing and maintaining HACCP measures must be increased. Control authorities play a crucial role in designing, implementing, and ensuring the effectiveness of the system, including monitoring and corrective measures.

Endorsement and Basic Principles of HACCP

Endorsement: Hazard Analysis Critical Control Points (HACCP) is endorsed by several prominent organizations:

  • FAO (Food and Agriculture Organization)
  • Codex Alimentarius (a commission of the United Nations)
  • FDA (US Food and Drug Administration)
  • European Union
  • WHO (World Health Organization)

Basic Principles:

1. Conduct a Hazard Analysis: Identify potential hazards in the food manufacturing process.

2. Control Critical Control Points (CCP): After assessing all processing steps, establish control measures for CCPs, which are points determining and controlling significant hazards.

3. Set Critical Limits: Establish critical limits to ensure effective control of identified hazards.

4. Implement Monitoring Systems: Establish systems to monitor CCPs to ensure hazards are effectively controlled.

5. Establish Corrective Actions: Implement corrective actions when critical limits are not met, ensuring accurate record-keeping of actions taken.

6. Establish Authentication Procedures: Confirm compliance with HACCP principles and maintain accurate records.

7. Analyze Effectiveness: Regularly analyze the effectiveness of the HACCP plan to ensure ongoing food safety and quality.


Recommended ventilation conditions: circulating air, 6 circulations/hour without supply of fresh air in order to ensure uniform cooling of all parts of the cargo.

Risk factors

Frozen meat (especially pork) is prune to temperature variations and highly odor-sensitive and very rapidly absorbs foreign odors.

  • Thawing / Microbiological spoilage
  • Odor
  • Contamination
  • Mechanical influences
  • Shrinkage/Shortage

Additional Information on Frozen Meat

In addition to being maintained at -18°C, frozen meat may experience temperature variations during transport. Severe variations can lead to blood loss, evident through heavy amounts of blood-ice, indicating potential issues. These variations can also cause product discoloration. Prolonged exposure to higher temperatures can lead to mold formation and decomposition, detectable through foreign odors. It’s crucial to note that the maximum allowable temperature for frozen meat entry into the European Community is -12°C.

Although containerization has largely mitigated tainting issues, they can still occur. Ozone treatment can effectively remove such taints, but its acceptability in the receiving country should be confirmed. Offal, including tails, hearts, livers, and kidneys, is typically shipped in a hard-frozen state.

Chilled Meat

Meat Composition and Characteristics

When properly chilled, meat maintains the characteristics of freshness. The degree of redness in meat is determined by its myoglobin content, which varies based on species, breed, age, and other factors.

Meat consists of water (approximately 50-75%), protein (approximately 15-20%), fat (approximately 5-35%), mineral salts (1-2%), and carbohydrates (glycogen; 0.3-0.5%).

Due to its high water, protein, and fat content, meat is highly perishable. Refrigeration helps retard deterioration.

Quality Assessment and Microbial Concerns

Meat quality is assessed based on bacterial condition and appearance. Appearance factors include color, fat and lean percentage, and drip amount.

Microorganisms such as bacteria, yeasts, and molds can damage food. While their activity can be beneficial in some food manufacturing processes, it is typically detrimental during storage and transportation, necessitating growth control.

Microorganisms are commonly present on all foods. The goal of food processing and storage is to limit microbial growth to prevent spoilage or unsafe consumption. It’s important to differentiate between food spoilage microorganisms and food poisoning microorganisms, which can cause illness with or without signs of spoilage.

Factors Affecting Microbial Growth

Microbial growth is influenced by intrinsic factors (related to the food’s properties like pH and salt content) and extrinsic factors (controlled by the storage environment). During transportation, extrinsic factors such as temperature, humidity, and gas concentration are crucial and require careful management.

Applications of Meat

Meat serves as a vital nutritional source, offering essential proteins, fats, and other nutrients.

Chilled Shipment and Storage Guidelines

Chilled foods require precise temperature control during transportation and storage to maintain quality and safety.

Temperature Range: Foods should be kept within a temperature range of approximately -1.5°C to +5°C during shipment. For specific products like chilled beef, an upper temperature limit of 0°C is recommended to prevent freezing injuries.

Freezing Concerns: The freezing temperatures of moisture in beef cuts typically range around -1.7°C, which can lead to ice crystal formation.

Temperature Tolerance: Well-vacuumed chilled beef can tolerate a temperature rise up to +1°C (max. +2°C) before experiencing physical detriments. However, any temperature rise above -1.4°C, the usual carrying temperature, or interruption of the cooling chain significantly reduces the potential storage life of the product.

Ambient Storage Conditions: Under ambient conditions at 16°/30°C, the shelf life of red meat and poultry is limited to a few days due to their high perishability.

Chilled Storage Benefits: Optimal chilled storage conditions, close to the initial freezing point, can extend the storage life of red meat to approximately six weeks. However, even with the best commercial practices, including hygienic slaughtering, rapid cooling, vacuum packing, and storage at super chill (-1 ± 0.5°C), the maximum achievable storage life for red meat is approximately 20 weeks.

Freezing Extension: Freezing significantly extends the storage life of meat, allowing it to be preserved for several years.

Temperature and Microbial Growth

Temperature plays a crucial role in governing microbial growth, with higher temperatures generally promoting faster growth rates. While many meat microorganisms can grow across a broad temperature range, vigorous growth typically occurs within specific temperature ranges.

Classification of Microorganisms

Meat spoilage organisms are classified into three categories based on their temperature optima:

  • Psychrophiles: Optimal growth temperature between -2°C and 7°C.
  • Mesophiles: Optimal growth temperature between 10°C and 40°C.
  • Thermophiles: Optimal growth temperature from 43°C to 66°C.

However, certain gram-negative rods, typically regarded as mesophiles, can still grow at -1.5°C, blurring these distinctions.

Effect of Freezing on Microbial Growth

Freezing generally reduces the number of microorganisms in meat, but yeasts and molds can still grow at -5°C, albeit not at -10°C. Contrary to prevalent beliefs, carefully controlled experiments have failed to prove that thawed meat is inherently more perishable than unfrozen meat. However, thawed meat may have a moister surface, leading to a higher risk of bacterial contamination.

Influence of Temperature and Nutrients

The effect of temperature on microbial growth varies depending on nutrient availability. Heavy microbial growth before freezing can lead to the production of microbial enzymes, which may continue to cause quality changes even at temperatures as low as -30°C.

Moisture and Microbial Growth

Moisture availability is critical for microbial growth on meat, although certain bacteria may remain dormant at low moisture levels. Spores also resist destruction by dry heat more than by moist heat.

Surface Changes and Deterioration

Fresh chilled meat deteriorates due to surface changes, including desiccation and oxidation of muscle pigment. Different muscles exhibit varying susceptibilities to browning and mold growth based on their moisture content. Excessive moisture can lead to bacterial growth and off-odors, while dry surfaces are prone to mold growth. These changes are influenced by time and temperature.

Moisture Condensation and Packaging Effects

When meat is taken out of cold storage, moisture often condenses on cool surfaces, a phenomenon known as ‘sweating.’ While sweating can encourage microbial growth, it’s reversible and typically doesn’t result in a permanent loss of the meat’s pleasing appearance, known as ‘bloom.’ However, balancing humidity levels in storage is crucial to prevent desiccation and microbial growth.

Packaging Influence on Meat Quality

The choice of packaging significantly impacts the shelf life and quality of refrigerated fresh meats. Permeable packaging can lead to gram-negative spoilage, increased pH, and foul odors, primarily due to Pseudomonas spp. growth. Conversely, impermeable packaging favors the growth of lactic acid bacteria and Brochothrix thermosphacta due to increased CO2 levels, creating an unfavorable environment for pathogens.

Effects of Packaging Removal

Upon removal of vacuum packaging, chilled meat may exhibit abnormal discoloration and emit distinctive odors due to the absence of air. However, these effects are reversible, and the meat’s color and odor normalize upon exposure to air. Presence of CO2 gas bubbles in vacuum-packed meat can indicate incipient microbial spoilage.

Factors Affecting Meat Quality

Various factors influence the keeping quality of pre-packaged fresh meat, including moisture content, salt concentration, pH, exudation degree, enzyme activity, protein denaturation, amino acid content, and micronutrient levels.

Post-Mortem pH Changes

Following death, muscle pH decreases as glycogen is converted into lactic acid by muscle enzymes. Starvation before slaughter reduces glycogen levels, resulting in a higher ultimate pH, which makes the meat dry, firm, and dark in color. Despite its high water-binding capacity, meat with a high pH is prone to rapid microbial spoilage.

Temperature Variation and Its Effects

Temperature variation poses a significant challenge for chilled meat, particularly bone-in beef, where evidence typically manifests as blood drip from temperature rise. Additionally, stained wrappers, fats, and discolored muscular tissue may be detected. Prolonged variation can lead to surface slime and mold formation, exacerbating the issue.

Damage Indicators in Boneless Cuts

In boneless cuts, any blood drip is retained within the vacuum bag. Excessive blood indicates a problem, especially in lamb cuts where significant blood presence is unexpected. Downward temperature variations can cause meat to feel hard or firm, often accompanied by intra-muscular ice crystal formation.

Packaging Techniques for Chilled Lamb

Chilled lamb carcasses and cuts transported from Australia/New Zealand to the E.U. are packaged in foil bags. Each cut or carcass is individually wrapped in absorbent white paper toweling and then placed in a foil barrier bag, flushed with food-grade carbon dioxide, evacuated to remove oxygen, and filled with excess carbon dioxide. Gas flushing ensures carbon dioxide absorption by the meat, inhibiting undesirable bacteria while promoting lactobacilli growth, which aids in maintaining product quality.

Challenges with Packaging Integrity

Ensuring the seal’s integrity during gas flushing operations is crucial. Any damage remains unseen until the bag is opened at its final destination, such as supermarket outlets or during boning of lamb carcasses into individual cuts.

Differentiating Between Poor Sealing and Fluctuations

Distinguishing between poor sealing and temperature fluctuations requires careful consideration, as both can lead to similar deterioration in chilled meat. Vigilance is necessary to address these issues effectively and maintain product quality throughout storage and transit.

Risk factors

  • Odor
  • Contamination
  • Mechanical influences
  • Toxicity / Hazards to health
  • Shrinkage/Shortage
  • Insect infestation / Diseases
  • Bacterial spoilage

Additional info

Stowage Factor

  • Cartons: Approximately 1 cubic meter per ton.
  • Sides of Pork: Approximately 2.80 – 3.56 cubic meters per ton.


  • Relative Humidity: Approximately 80 – 85%.
  • Water Content: Approximately 50 – 75%.
  • Maximum Equilibrium Moisture Content: 80%.

Enzymatic and Bacterial Activity

  • Chilled meat, due to its high content of unfrozen water, is suitable only for short transport operations as enzymatic and bacterial activity may continue slowly.


  • Recommended Ventilation: Circulating air at a rate of 6 circulations per hour without the supply of fresh air to ensure uniform cooling of all parts of the cargo.
Tags: Shipping Guide

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