The apple harvest is the most anticipated period in the productive cycle, but also the most work-intensive. Currently the arduous process of collecting apples into cases is being replaced by more effective collecting into box pallets. This system is popular because of the reduction in work load connected with transport and preparation of fruit for storage.

Export of agricultural products to African countries is mostly conducted by ship. This is mainly a result of the significantly lower costs of sea transport in comparison with air transport, which in the case of shipments outside the EU are at the ratio of 20:80.

Apples are transported mainly in forty-foot cooling containers of the Reefer type. It is possible to ship in twenty-foot containers; however, in the case of exporting fruit, this manner is not cost-worthy because of its low availability and small loading capabilities. Forty-foot containers contain about 22 tons of fruit.

The fruit are transported to Mediterranean ports in trucks and then the products are reloaded to containers. Thanks to this, transport is shortened to about 7 days. Ports in Southern Europe are used mainly for shipping apples to Northern Africa and the Near East, to the ports of Jeddah and Jebel Ali. From Koper (Slovenia) and Trieste (Italy) very quick shipments are made to Libya, Egypt and Algeria – about 3-5 days by ship, which in the case of fruit is very important. On such short routes, exporters decide on cooling containers without a controlled temperature. However, in the case of transport from Gdynia (Poland), with transport lasting 40 days, transporters regulating air humidity are used. The cost of exporting in a controlled temperature is about 20% higher.

Apples are a living product in which life processes continue after picking. The most important of these are breathing and transpiration, or evaporation.

Breathing

In normal conditions while breathing, the amount of absorbed oxygen is equal to the amount of absorbed carbon dioxide. It has been proven that when the amount of oxygen is restricted while maintaining an appropriate amount of carbon dioxide, the aging process is slowed. Therefore, it has been recognised that the easiest way to lower the breathing intensity, and thus the aging of apples, is by storing them in a temperature near to their freezing temperature (from about 0°C to 3°C). It is important that the fall in temperature not cause local freezing of the fruit. Storing apples in a cooling room enables one to lengthen their freshness by about two weeks.

Evaporation

Transpiration, i.e. evaporation allows protection of plants from over-heating, and also leads to the generation of vacuum pressure, which plays a key role in the process of water and mineral conduction inside the plant. However, in the case of fruit-growers this process is linked to losses, as the long-term storage of fruit leads to a fall in their weight, and thus lower profits. Additionally, fruits suffer a worsening of quality and appearance, with an unattractive, wrinkled skin. The evaporation process occurs more slowly when the storage temperature is lower. This is another reason why it is worth keeping fruit in a cooling room. This also applies to their transport.[i]

Optimal temperature and humidity:

Variety

Temperature range in °C

Humidity in %

Storage period

Idared

3.5-4.5

90-95

5 months

Golden Delicious

1.5-2

90-95

4-6 months

[i] Material prepared on the basis of:
http://www.e-sadownictwo.pl/wiadomosci/inne/4377-ograniczenia-i-mozliwosci-w-transporcie-owocow-rozmowa-ze-spedytorem
http://www.fresh-market.pl/owoce_i_warzywa/owoce/ogolne_informacje_z_rynku_owocow/warunki_transportu_i_przechowywania_owocow,p1536432889
https://chlodnie.eu/transport-owocow-i-warzyw/