Best Way to Ship Fresh, Warm, Frozen and Perishable Products

August 30, 2021

Messenger Freight Specializes in Fresh, Cold, and Frozen Transport

If you’re new to shipping perishable products, you may want to learn more about reefer trucks (also known as refrigerated trailers), temperature and humidity control, truckload options and shipping times. We also have THREE TIPS for you on how to pick the best refrigeration trucking company.

The term perishable refers to food or products spoiled and revenue lost. The following is a list of products most often transported in the cold chain logistics industry:

  • Frozen foods
  • Fruits, vegetables
  • Baked goods
  • Dairy, meat, fish
  • Beverages
  • Chemicals
  • Cosmetics
  • Flowers and plants
  • Medicines
  • Antiques, artwork (humidity control)


Long ago, our food system did not allow us to enjoy fruits, beverages, vegetables, fish or animal meat from other continents; the distance and resulting spoilage were uncontrolled and unwinnable.

As the earliest form of cold transport in the early 1800s; ice blocks were shipped to the Caribbean’s wealthy Europeans living there as a way of reducing the heat of their tropical getaways.

Ice was shipped worldwide to warmer continents in the early 1800s. Shortly after that, the benefits of Thomas Moore’s idea of ice storage led to kitchen iceboxes or refrigiratories, a way of keeping milk and food from spoiling. Large blocks of river ice stacked on barges and trains became a new method to ensure cool limited distance exportation of temperature-sensitive products.

By the mid to late 1800s, engineers everywhere were tinkering with compressed gases in the race to invent a better form of refrigeration. By the1960s, 80% of homes had a refrigerator, although it would take another thirty years to recognize the need for an ecologically safer refrigerant, now the standard.

Today, Reefer (re-frig-er-ated) trucks are the only way to transport larger quantities of cold or frozen products on land.

The first refrigerated shipping trailer was put into use in 1939, allowing cold shipments beyond 80 km.

Today’s Reefer truck’s interior temperatures and humidity are fully adjustable, monitored and controlled by the driver. Some trailers have separated multiple temperature zones allowing for different cargo requirements such as pharmaceuticals, beverages, frozen foods or flowers.

Reefer shipping is available as Full truckloads, Partial truckloads and Less-than truckloads.


Truckload terms by the numbers:

Full truckload – 53 ft or 16m / 48,000 lbs / 26 non stackable pallets or 52 stackable

Partial truckload – 12 -30 linear ft / 1,000 – 25,000 lbs

Less than truckload – up to 12 ft or 3.6m / up to 10,000 lbs / 3 non stackable pallets or 6 stackable


1. Speed of Shipping is a crucial aspect for Partial or Less-than

Ask Messenger Freight Systems about our customer-service-driven, logistical system of shipping.

Although Full truckloads are the quickest shipping method, an experienced 3PL transport company can ensure the most efficient shipping method for your partial or less than truckload shipments.

One-day shipping is the costliest delivery time so try always to use 2- or 3-day shipping. The ability of your transport supplier to juggle various sized loads for several clients in the most cost-effective way for everyone to save money.

Reefer trucks are often used for local, short-distance deliveries. 

2. The highest standards must be upheld, particularly for Reefer trucks (trailers).

A 3PL transport company provides the best of all transportation experience.

This is especially true for hot, cold or frozen shipping requirements; sensitive freight demands complex knowledge of, and attention paid to, the temp and humidity gauges and onboard product requirements the whole transport time.

Produce is one of the most time, temperature and humidity vulnerable products transported; the safety risks are high. Outdoor temperatures, the age of the produce and even their variety will affect how the reefer temperature is set.

Proper documents, clean vehicles and exact temperature and humidity control are essential for reefer transport. All products have their individual temperature requirements:

  • Temperatures for berries, avocadoes, lettuce, bananas, and potatoes vary between 0 and 10 degrees Celsius.
  • Pharmaceuticals require -150 to 20 degrees Celsius
  • Plants and flowers are best at temperatures of ½ degree Celsius
  • Conversely, warm interior temperatures, especially during winter months to prevent freezing must also be monitored.


3. How should you choose a refrigerated transport company?

  • Ask the company how long they’ve been driving refrigerated trucks and ask about their onboard temperature and humidity control capabilities.
  • Know beforehand the temperature requirements of your product; the more knowledgeable you are about your own needs, the farther the discussion can progress during your phonecall.
  • Do you require off-truck refrigeration storage?
  • Ask about the company’s regulatory processes. If you are shipping food, chemicals or pharmaceuticals, your transportation partner will require specific accreditations.
  • Always ask for a cost estimate and how those costs are determined. Does the material type, shipping timeframe, or shipment volume make a difference to the way it’s priced?


Messenger Freight Systems has many years of experience providing long and short-distance Reefer transportation. We provide transport for Loblaws, flower and plant suppliers, and major pharmaceutical companies. Read some of our testimonials HERE.

Do you have questions?

Please call us at either of our two locations conveniently situated within minutes of the 401.

Our St Thomas head office provides two rail spurs located in our warehouse for all your transport and storage requirements: (519) 631 9604

Our Cambridge location stands in the middle of the competitive transport hub of Southwestern Ontario: (519) 623 9604