Frozen food transport

How to organise

In the guide you will find:

Transporting frozen food is quite a logistical challenge requiring experience and the right equipment. Furthermore, the transport of frozen food is subject to legal regulations that must be strictly adhered to. Frozen food is primarily transported by road. This allows for good organisation of the supply chain and ensures optimal conditions in which frozen products are transported. When organising the transport of frozen foodstuffs, the biggest challenge is to maintain a constant temperature, as any fluctuation can render the foodstuff unfit for consumption.

Methods of transporting frozen food by land

The transport of frozen food by land is one of the key segments of food logistics, requiring specific conditions to ensure product quality and safety. Here are the most important aspects concerning this topic:

Types of vehicles for transporting frozen foodstuffs:

Chillers and freezers

These are specialised vehicles equipped with refrigeration units. They allow a constant low temperature to be maintained during transport, regardless of external conditions. In the case of frozen food, temperatures in freezers can reach values below -18°C.


These are vehicles that provide a stable internal temperature through adequate insulation, but do not have their own cooling systems. They can be used when frozen food is transported over short distances and when there is confidence that the products will remain frozen throughout transport.

Preparing frozen food for transport:

Frozen food should be adequately packaged in insulating materials such as polystyrene boxes to help keep the temperature down.

Avoid transporting products that are not fully frozen, as they may lose their quality during transport.

Temperature monitoring:

It is extremely important to continuously monitor the temperature during transport. Most modern refrigerated vehicles have built-in temperature recording systems. In the event of any deviation from the norm, the driver should be informed immediately so that appropriate measures can be taken.

Route planning:

The route should be planned to minimise transport time. Downtime should be avoided, especially in hot conditions, which may adversely affect the quality of the frozen food.

Loading and unloading:

These operations should take place in the shortest possible time. The use of loading docks in refrigerated warehouses is recommended to minimise the exposure of products to higher temperatures.

Legal regulations for the transport of frozen foodstuffs

In order to standardise standards for the transport of frozen foodstuffs, the Council of Europe, together with the European Parliament, adopted Directive 89/108/EEC and the ATP Agreement.

According to the guidelines, the temperature of deep-frozen articles should be -18ºC or less, with possible short-term fluctuations during transport of no more than 3ºC. The directive does not specify the precise time at which the products should be frozen, stating only that this should be done as soon as possible. The freezing process may take place before the desired temperature is reached in the core of the product, and the equilibration of the temperature will take place later when thermal stabilisation is reached.

The temperature of frozen and chilled items depends on what type of food it is. Below you will find a list of specific foods with information on storage and transport temperatures.

How to secure frozen food before transport by car?

Securing frozen food before transport by road is crucial to ensure product quality and avoid losses. Here are the steps to take to do so:

Proper packaging

Insulated boxes

Use polystyrene boxes or other insulating boxes to store frozen food. Such boxes will help maintain the temperature and protect the products from changes in external conditions.

Cooling materials

Add cooling elements to the boxes, such as dry ice, cold refrigeration batteries or gel cooling pads. Arranging these in strategic areas of the crate will help to maintain a constant low temperature.

Stabilise the load

Position the crates in such a way that they do not move during the journey. Belts or other restraints can be used to prevent the load from shifting during transport.

Vehicle with suitable insulation

If possible, use a vehicle with an insulated carrier. In some situations, you may also consider hiring a small refrigerated vehicle.

Temperature monitoring

If possible, use portable thermometers with temperature recording to monitor the environment in which the frozen food is stored. This will allow you to react quickly in case of irregularities.

Optimise your route

Plan your route to avoid long stops, especially on warmer days. Also try to ensure that all loading and unloading operations take place as quickly as possible.

Instructions for the driver

Make sure the driver is aware of the importance of keeping the temperature down and maintaining the cold chain. The driver should avoid opening the boot more than necessary and parking the vehicle in the sun.

Quick unloading

Once you have arrived at your destination, proceed as quickly as possible to unload and store the frozen food in the appropriate conditions.

Following the above recommendations will ensure efficient and safe transport of frozen food by road. For longer routes or larger quantities of products, consider hiring a professional transport company specialising in refrigerated transport.


Who is responsible for the proper transport of frozen products?

The transport provider is responsible for the cargo during transport. However, it is important to remember that it is primarily in the interest of whoever is sending the consignment to deliver the frozen foodstuffs at the right temperature. Therefore, it is very important that, when ordering the transport of frozen foodstuffs, the conditions under which it is to take place are precisely defined. It is important to bear in mind that a break in the cold chain can put the health of consumers at risk, as thawed and refrozen products can cause serious ailments.