The importance of temperature during transport

Temperature loggers

Research has shown that the temperature in sea freight is much more stable than in air freight. Product shelf life depends much upon the product temperature during transport and storage. The temperature profile during transport and export to foreign markets is therefore an important factor to consider.

The export volume of fresh fish fillets from Iceland has increased from 5-10 thousand tons around 1990 to 15-25 thousand tons after 2003. The majority has been transported by air freight – however in recent years sea freight has increased.

Common transport time from Icelandic processors to retailers in Europe is around five to seven days for the sea transport chains but one to two days if the fillets are transported by air.

Figure 1 shows a temperature profile from a fish processor in Iceland to buyer in C-Europe using air transport. The ambient temperature fluctuated very much during the air freight transport and the product temperature was around 4°C at final destination.

Temp_during_air_freight                                       Figure 1. Temperature profile during air transport

Figure 2 shows a temperature profile from a fish processor in Iceland to a buyer in C-Europe. The ambient temperature remained constant during the sea freight and the product temperature was around 1°C at final destination.

Temp_during_ship_freight                                      Figure2. Temperature profile during sea transport

These figures show that the “distance” to market differed by 4 days depending on sea or air freight. It also showed that the average product temperature differed by around 3°C at the time of delivery. Both factors affect the remaining shelf life after delivery.

Studies simulating export by sea and air freight show that by storing fillets at steady temperature at -1°C, results in an extended shelf life of 4-6 days as compared to storage simulating air freight transport at rather mildly fluctuating temperatures.

Therefore, the longer time taken to export the loins with sea freight compared to air freight is compensated by the low and steady temperature during the transport.

For further information about cooling before packaging and transport see herehere and here.


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