Refrigerated Containers Vs Permanent Cold Storage

How Temporary Cold Storage with Refrigerated Containers has benefited a range of businesses in the food and beverage industry.

The harvesting of grapes for wine in the Cape Province of South Africa takes place during the period from the end of December to mid-March. The timing of the six week harvest depends on climate with the hotter regions being planted and harvested first. Wine regions along the Orange River, from Boegoeberg in the east to the Augrabies in the Falls Valley in the west, start as early as December while the harvest in Wellington and Paarl start mid-January, followed by Stellenbosch.

For Pearl Mountain wine estate on the Northern slopes of the Paarl Mountain from mid-January to the end of February they need to harvest between 250 and 500 tons of grapes with the last two weeks of the harvest being particular intense. 

According to Dave Retief, head of agriculture at Paarl Mountain, the timing of the picking is essential to the quality of the grape and this is when the use of refrigerated containers, known as reefers, is essential. “I would rather pick the grape at the perfect time and store it in a reefer than leave it to hang until it can be transported. For wine production it is vital to get the acid-sugar balance just right so two or three days on the vine can make a big difference to the chemical composition,’’ explains Dave.  

“Grapes are stored in crates, on pallets at 2 degrees Celsius. If the day was particularly hot, I often use the reefer to cool the grape down before transporting,” continues Dave.

“With harvest season being only six weeks, I rent the reefers from Almar for as long as I need them. They also take responsibility for the maintenance or any technical issues which is a relief during the busiest time of the year,’’ concludes Dave. 

For Stick ‘n Licks, a KwaZulu-Natal based business specialising in the warehousing and distribution of ice-cream and other frozen products, they are using Almar refrigerated containers at their customers premises to save on transportation, carbon emissions, manpower, risk and to make their product easily accessible at all times. 

“It makes sense for us to place reefers on the premises of our big retail customers, especially during the hotter months, as we can stock up the reefer and then product is readily available. Our reefers are on rental so if demand decreases we can return them until such time as we need them again.’’ 

Angus McIntosh, known as Farmer Angus, is one of two grass fed, pasture-reared beef producers in the Western Cape. Situated on 126 hectares of irrigated pasture at Spier Wine Estate near Stellenbosch, his butchery is the only one in the country that does not add nitrates, nitrites and gluten to the meat.

“We have been using Almar reefers since June 2018 as the maturation chambers for our charcuterie products. Charcuterie is cured meat which involves two stages in the production - the first is fermentation and spicing, and the second maturation.

“The reefers are a brilliant facility where the temperature and humidity can be controlled. We run the temperature at 12 Celsius and the humidity at 80%. If you cannot control temperature and humidity you will never be able to make charcuterie,” exclaims Angus.  

FitChef, a business which delivers ‘clean food’ meals to your door with the aim of helping you achieve your health goals, have decided go the reefer route for their cold storage. 

“Using rented reefers for our cold storage makes sense for a number of reasons,’’ says FitChef’s Craig Kaminsky. “We rent our property in Gauteng so to invest in cold storage which is expensive and permanent does not make sense. Reefers are stackable, movable and because they are on rent we can increase or decrease our numbers depending on our stock requirements. The responsibility of repairs and maintenance falls with Almar which frees us up to focus on our core business of making people healthier.” 

Refrigerated Container / Reefer / Cold Storage Container Benefits

Refrigerated containers are an easy way to increase your storage volume and offer many advantages which include the following:

Single Installation

Containers are modular and can be placed just about anywhere level, with a true ‘plug and play’ installation.

Modular

Containers are standard sizes and their modular ability allows for rooms to be added and removed during seasonal capacity requirements.

Hygienic food grade interiors

All containers have high-grade stainless steel interiors, which are easy to clean.

Robust machinery

Almar use the latest Carrier Reefer Containers which is the industry standard. Carrier supply the world’s shipping lines with almost 80% of all Reefers. They are reliable and robust with machinery built to withstand the harshest conditions.

Mobile

The containers are designed for intermodal transport and therefore can be uplifted and moved very easily.

Chilled and deep frozen product

Containers allow for temperature ranges between -25°C and +25°C.

Dehumidification Control

Allows certain reefer models to maintain between 60% and 90% relative humidity in the unit. This is an added advantage for clients with very specific humidity / temperature requirements for perishable cargoes.

Accurate temperature maintenance – containers can monitor and track temperatures ranging within 0.3°C.

T-Bar flooring

Ensures efficient airflow when containers are fully loaded.

Digital temperature display

allows for easy temperature monitoring and adjustment.

Simple operation

Reefer containers are a ‘plug and play’ cold storage solution, provided with operational guides and basic training if required.

Service

A 24/7 helpline in the event of technical problems or breakdowns.

For more information contact Nikki on +27 86 001 7476 or email nikki@almar.co.za.

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