4 Things That Determine Reefer Shipping Costs

When shipping products that require temperature control, reefer shipping is often the most practical answer. However, before you jump into a reefer shipping contract, it’s important to understand what factors can impact the cost of these shipments.

Temperature-sensitive items such as food and pharmaceuticals are perishable goods, so they need to be transported in specialized containers with advanced cooling or heating systems, meaning additional investments on both sides. So, what makes them so expensive?

Read on to learn four things that determine reefer rates, including mode of transportation, distance, delivery time-frame, and insurance. Knowing how each factor plays into your shipment will allow you to make an informed decision when picking a transportation option for refrigerated cargo.


As the saying goes, ‘distance makes the heart grow fonder,’ but when it comes to shipping costs, it can also make your wallet feel a bit lighter. This rings particularly true for reefer shipping. The farther away your destination, the more expensive it will be to transport temperature-sensitive cargo.

Whether you’re shipping fresh fruit from a tropical paradise or frozen seafood from the Antarctic, the longer the journey, the more factors come into play that can bump up the cost. From additional fuel charges to extended travel times, it’s important to factor in these variables when planning your next reefer shipment and budget accordingly.

Mode of Reefer Transportation

The most common mode of reefer transportation is by truck. Trucks are the most cost-effective way to transport refrigerated cargo since they can carry a large number of goods. However, trucking reefer rates usually vary by the growing season in a given area, and the costs usually depend on the distance traveled, with shorter trips costing lower prices than long hauls. The only downside to using trucks as a mode of reefer transportation is that they can be inefficient if transporting goods over long distances.

Another popular mode of reefer transportation is by rail. Rail freight provides a cost-effective solution for long-distance hauls since it’s more efficient than shipping by truck. However, rail freight may require the goods to be transferred onto another vehicle at the destination station. Additionally, rail freight can sometimes take longer to deliver cargo due to logistical constraints.

Air transport is the fastest way to transport refrigerated cargo, as it can reach its destination in the shortest amount of time. However, air freight is also the most expensive mode of reefer transportation since it requires more fuel consumption and has higher operational costs than other methods. Additionally, some airports may not have the capacity to facilitate such large shipments, and goods need to be broken down into smaller parcels.

No matter which mode of reefer transportation you choose, it’s important to compare the different costs and benefits associated with each option in order to select the best one for your shipping needs. Doing so can have a big impact on your bottom line and ensure that your cargo is transported safely, efficiently, and cost-effectively.

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Delivery Time-Frame

When it comes to rush orders, time is of the essence. You don’t want your goods sitting around for too long, especially if they are perishable. For instance, some fresh foods can only stay in the fridge for 3-4 days before they start spoiling and losing their nutrient properties. That’s where a faster delivery time frame comes into play. However, fast service doesn’t come free, and it’s important to keep in mind the additional costs that may be associated with it.

Despite the extra expense, it’s often worth it to ensure that your goods are delivered on time and in the best possible condition. After all, in the world of business, time is money, and a delay can mean lost profits.


To ensure your reefer shipments arrive safely, you may want to consider purchasing insurance. Although it may result in an extra cost, insurance can provide peace of mind if loss or damage occurs during transit.

With insurance, you won’t have to worry about any unforeseen circumstances that could potentially jeopardize your shipment. Protecting your reefer shipments is essential, and insurance is an investment that can go a long way in ensuring the success of your business.

Bottom Line

Reefer shipping costs may appear complex but an understanding of the factors that determine these costs can make it simpler. Moreover, understanding the different elements of pricing can help you plan ahead and make more informed decisions when arranging fridge shipments. This can ensure that you don’t get stuck with a sudden delay or inflated costs. 

As for deciding on the best provider for your reefer needs, price isn’t everything; look for reviews on online forums and consider their history of providing reliable service. With sufficient planning, researching, and comparing quotes from various companies, you will be able to find a suitable cold chain provider that meets all your requirements at a reasonable cost.



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Noman covers automotive news and reviews for Unfinished Man. His passion for cars informs his in-depth assessments of the latest models and technologies. Noman provides readers with insightful takes on today's top makes and models from his hands-on testing and research.

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