What is the Difference Between a Fridge Box and Reefer Container?

Reefer LTL

The shipping of temperature-sensitive commodities is on the up-tick. Fresh food products, pharmaceuticals and technology solutions have seen a dramatic rise in the retail space. From computer microchips that require temperature-controlled shipping to vaccines that help cure disease or prevent them, the global community has become increasingly dependent upon the cold supply chain. However, there is some confusion about what the difference is between a fridge box and a reefer container?

Well – for those who have wondered about this commonly asked question, here are some facts about these two cold supply chain shipping solutions.

Why is Cold Storage Shipping Necessary and Growing?

There are multiple products that require temperature-controlling and have for several years. However, growing federal and international shipping regulations have increased the need for higher-quality temperature control and monitoring which has spurred growth within this industry. Some of the most common commodities that require advanced tracking and monitoring within the cold supply chain include frozen food, dairy products, produce, medical supplies, and electronics.

What is a Reefer Container?

The term ‘reefer’ is used to describe a full-service or dedicated refrigerated truck or container with temperature control equipment. A reefer can be set from temperatures ranging from 50 degrees to minus 20 Fahrenheit in order to keep the product within their desired storage temperature for the duration of transportation. Most temperature-controlled shipments are LTL or less than truckload, with multiple products that require similar temperature control being shipped together – usually to multiple stops.

Are there any Disadvantages of Reefer Shipping?

While the market it hot – the availability of reefer units is just as cold as the products they ship. This supply and demand issue along with the reduction in qualified and CDL licensed drivers has caused the cost of reefer shipments to accelerate. Beyond the cost increase, trying to schedule perishable shipments on the schedule of a shipper is also becoming a challenge. The transportation industry is rapidly increasing their production of new reefer containers and trucks in order to meet the rising need – which should hopefully reduce some of the shipping costs.

Another challenge with reefer shipments is route planning for LTL shipments. For example, if a manufacturer of frozen food has 10 pallets of products that have to be shipped to 5 different customers, in three different states, the shipment will likely have to be sent to a LTL depot to be routed to at least three different LTL routes. This isn’t very efficient and tends to increase the time of delivering cold storage products.

What is a Fridge Box?

While a reefer is a dedicated container or vehicle that moves refrigerated or other temperature-controlled commodities, a fridge box is an individual box that can hold up to two pallets of product. A fridge box is usually loaded onto a dry-goods trailer while maintaining the desired temperature zone during transport. They are incredibly well engineered – with seal technology and equipment that can keep a temperature within one degree for up to a five-day period.

A fridge box is much easier to maintain and offers shippers with more flexibility to move smaller amounts of cold-storage products. This type of cold-storage shipping device is typically used for smaller products, like electronics, medications, vaccines, or other cold-storage pharmaceutical products. One of their greatest benefits is their portability. Most shippers will use a fridge box to keep smaller volume products cold while shipping dry goods in the same LTL container. As such, fridge boxes tend to be less expensive than reefers because they don’t require fully equipped trucks. The fridge box has been a big help in the reduction of cold supply chain supply problems – and gives shippers and carriers alike improved opportunities for moving cold-storage products.

While the cold supply chain is growing in need – and more carriers are increasing their volume of reefer and fridge boxes, shippers still have challenges when trying to navigate this competitive industry. If you’re a shipper who is challenged by the hurdles associated with reefer and temperature-controlled shipments, an experienced 3PL can significantly improve your LTL supply chain operation. Take time to contact a professional third-party logistics company if you’d like to learn more about how to efficiently ship your cold storage products with improved customer service and reduced costs.