Horticultural packaging systems of the future: improving reefer container usage

T.M. Berry, T. Defraeye, A. Ambaw, C. Coetzee, U.L. Opara
Large quantities of fresh produce, such as pome fruit, are exported every year to international markets across the world using refrigerated freight containers (RFC). However, the current packaging systems typically employs 1.2×1.0 m pallets, which leave about 10% of the RFC unused. The introduction of an improved packaging system that better utilises RFC volume and improves the cooling efficiency could enable a significant reduction in transport costs, carbon emissions and postharvest losses. This study therefore investigated two new packaging systems under forced-air cooling (FAC; horizontal airflow) and RFC (vertical airflow) conditions using computational fluid dynamics. The Tes packaging system consists of a novel pallet and carton design, which occupies 98.9% of the RFC floor area. The Hex packaging system, on the other hand, uses an isosceles trapezoid carton. The complimentary Hex pallet results in a 97.4% RFC floor area usage. For FAC, the Hex design had a reduced heat transfer rate (10%) compared to the standard (STD) design. Conversely, compared to the STD design, the Tes packaging system improved heat transfer rate by 6%. Overall, both the Hex and Tes packaging system are feasible designs. The lessons learnt in the conceptual study can guide future studies to further develop packaging systems that improve the RFC usage and cooling efficiency.
Berry, T.M., Defraeye, T., Ambaw, A., Coetzee, C. and Opara, U.L. (2018). Horticultural packaging systems of the future: improving reefer container usage. Acta Hortic. 1201, 221-228
DOI: 10.17660/ActaHortic.2018.1201.30
carton design, refrigerated container, packaging system, forced-air cooling, packing density

Acta Horticulturae