The recent COVID-19 outbreak in Beijing has caused everyone’s anxiety about the cold chain, and some people have begun to propose to reduce the import of the cold chain through restrictions to support domestic-related industries. The starting point of this idea is good, but considering the importance of cold chain imports to the Chinese market, it is too naive. The number of refrigerated containers exported from overseas to China is huge every year. Many fruits, seafood, and meat in major supermarkets are exported to China from Southeast Asia, Australia, and South America.


This blog introduces the types of refrigerated products currently mainly exported to China, as well as the customs clearance process and disinfection measures of refrigerated containers under the COVID-19 epidemic, as well as the huge challenges and industry changes faced by Chinese buyers. Whether you are a supplier or buyer of frozen products traders can better understand exporting frozen products to China.


Affected by the epidemic, 2021 is of great significance for China’s imported refrigerated containers. It cannot be said that it is an industry reshuffle. Just kidding, it’s not so exaggerated, the buyers of frozen goods are basically the same, but the rules have changed a lot.


This blog is a very good report for refrigerated cargo suppliers exporting to China to better understand the challenges faced by Chinese refrigerated cargo buyers and the huge changes that have occurred in refrigerated cargo in the past 2 years. It can be described as a free frozen food delivery consultation report to China.


What kind of goods are loaded in refrigerated containers exported to China?

The first question we have to solve is, what products need a cold chain?


Refrigerated containers are generally used for food and medicine, inhibiting biological activity at low temperatures and extending the shelf life of products. In fact, the use of imported cold chains in medicine is also very frequent, and air transportation is more often used. Here we focus on the container transportation of the food cold chain.


The cold chain of food can be roughly divided into refrigeration and freezing.

Refrigeration refers to the transportation of vegetables, fruits, fresh meat, and other products maintained at a temperature above zero. If the temperature of these products is too low during transportation, they will cause chilling damage (that is, they will be frozen). Such imported cold chains are mainly imported from Southeast Asia.


Freezing is a frozen logistics that is kept below 0 °C, generally, -18 °C and the frozen food that has been frozen is also transported. Imported frozen food covers a wide range, including fruits, vegetables, meat, aquatic products, rough processed food (concentrated fruit pulp, cut meat, peeled shrimp, etc.), prepackaged food (prefabricated dishes), frozen instant food) and so on.


There is also a special kind of freezing or ultra-low temperature, which is generally lower than 35 ° C. This type of use is relatively small. It is usually used to transport pharmaceutical products. For cost reasons, food is generally not used. Occasionally, pre-made dishes are stored at ultra-low temperatures.


Both refrigerated and frozen products are shipped to China in refrigerated containers.


The vast majority of imported cold chain foods are reprocessed as raw materials and then flow into the market. Therefore, it is very important to find out where COVID-19 is detected in the cold chain. If it is detected in the market, it means that it has affected many places. If it is detected at the customs, it is a normal situation (name and criticize the aquatic products from India here, the detection rate is much higher than that of other countries)



The foreign cold chain is so unreliable, what has China done to deal with it?

Before talking about this part, let’s briefly introduce the process changes of the imported cold chain before and after the epidemic. The comparison is as follows:


Before the epidemic:

The refrigerated container is shipped to China, the customs quarantine, the import procedures are qualified, the sampling inspection is qualified, the goods are completed customs clearance, and the goods are sent to the general refrigerated warehouse


After the epidemic;

After the refrigerated container is shipped to China, the customs quarantine, the import procedures are qualified, the sampling inspection is qualified, the goods are cleared, and all the refrigerated containers are sent to the centralized customs supervision warehouse for disinfection of the refrigerated container goods. All products need to undergo nucleic acid testing, and finally, the goods are sent to the general refrigerated warehouse


After the refrigerated container shipped to China is docked, the first pass it faces is the inspection by the Chinese customs.


Customs: Each container must be opened for random inspection, and 20%-30% will be randomly selected. Only after passing the random inspection can pass the customs. After customs clearance, the goods will be uniformly pulled to the centralized supervision warehouse.


Centralized supervision warehouse: each container will be sterilized first, usually equipped with a tunnel-type sterilization device. After disinfection, it will be sent to the cold storage to wait for the nucleic acid test for each box. After all products in this batch have passed the test, they will be allowed to circulate.


Cold storage: It is impossible to directly pull the container to the market. It will be pulled to the cold storage first for storage. Generally, cold storage is a commercial large-scale rental cold storage or a company’s self-built cold storage. There is a large-scale rental cold storage near the Bestforworld ordinary warehouse. To: “The personnel in the cold storage area of ​​the Ministry of Environment must wear masks, and employees must wear protective clothing, rubber gloves, and disposable caps during operation.” Every month, cold storage workers can be seen queuing up in the morning to test nucleic acids (some will be tested once a week depending on the degree of risk). Outsiders used to be able to enter and exit at will, but now they must scan the itinerary code.


After the epidemic, we can find that a big link has been added  “centralized supervision warehouse”. In fact, it is not only the link of increasing testing but also the operations in many places have been adjusted. In November 2020, the Comprehensive Team of the Joint Prevention and Control Mechanism for Response to the Novel Coronavirus Pneumonia Epidemic of the State Council issued the Work Plan for Preventive Comprehensive Disinfection of Imported Cold Chain Foods. More specific regulations have been made, and the requirements are more detailed.


In January 2021, various places began to implement the centralized supervision warehouse system, so we will find that the news of COVID-19 virus detection in the cold chain has become less and less.


Specifically related to the sterilization links of refrigerated container transportation are:

At the port link, if the test result of the refrigerated container is negative, the customs department organizes, guides and urges the inspection site operator or importer to disinfect the inner wall of the container and the outer packaging of the imported cold chain food. After the disinfection is completed, the disinfection unit will issue a certificate that the batch of goods has been disinfected. After the imported cold chain food that has not been sterilized at the port link is released as required, it will be sterilized in the subsequent link.


In cold chain transportation and warehousing, when the imported cold chain food is unloaded from the container and reloaded to the domestic transportation vehicle, the owner or the forwarder will sterilize the package of the goods. During the transportation of imported cold chain food, the carrier is not allowed to open the container, and the transportation management department in the domestic transportation section should supervise and guide the cold chain logistics enterprise to strictly check the customs clearance documents, implement the disinfection of transportation vehicles, ships and other loading and transportation equipment, and the front-line staff protective measures, etc.


In the circulation link, for the imported cold chain food released from the port, before unloading and storage in the social cold storage or enterprise cold storage, the relevant production, and operation unit shall check the disinfection certificate attached to the goods. The inner wall of the container and the outer packaging of the batch of goods shall be disinfected. After the disinfection is completed, the disinfection unit will issue a certificate that the batch of goods has been disinfected. The production and business unit shall disinfect the inner packaging of the goods that need to be opened.


In the market segment, the imported cold chain food sales market should strengthen management, standardize the market sanitation environment, and do a good job in the daily disinfection of sales places. It is necessary to strictly implement the prevention and control requirements, strengthen the relevant certification inspection of whether imported cold chain food is sterilized, and prevent imported cold chain food that has not undergone preventive comprehensive disinfection from entering the market. Further improve the traceability management, so that all imported cold chain food entering the market can be traced to the source and the destination.


In such a prevention and control situation, the customs will have about 10%, because the detection is required to destroy. After the customs random inspection, there is still a detection rate of about 1-8% in the centralized supervision warehouse. (As for why the first sterilization and then the random inspection can still be detected, it is actually because the sterilization and testing and sampling are carried out at the same time, and the box sprayed with disinfectant cannot be sampled even if it is wet, so the container is opened to move a box of goods. Samples are taken at the same time as they come out. After positive detection, this batch of goods will be tested every seven days, and if it is negative for 3 consecutive times, it can be circulated, otherwise, the whole batch will be destroyed).


It can be seen that the impact of the epidemic on the import cold chain is huge. The customs clearance period of refrigerated containers first exported to China has changed from the original 7 days to one month. During this period, there is a 14-day free container period for containers detained in the destination port, while for those from Japan and other places The container-free period is only 7 to 10 days. After the container-free period of refrigerated containers ends, the overdue demurrage fee ranges from 2,000 to 2,200 yuan per day, and the plug-in fee is 220 yuan per day. On average, each container will incur an additional demurrage fee of 30,000 to 40,000 yuan. If you stay at the transit port and wait for the destination port to allow entry, the plug-in fee at the transit port alone will be 380 yuan per day, which will result in more demurrage charges. This puts a lot of pressure on the customs, and the financial burden on enterprises is also very huge. The centralized supervision warehouse is to test all the goods, which takes longer time and charges fees.


The imported cold chain food industry is an asset-heavy industry. Basically, every company has mortgaged everything that can be mortgaged. The turnover of commodities and funds is their lifeline, but because they are all industrial, most of them have this aspect. crisis awareness and financial reserves. However, the profit of a container in the circulation market may only be tens of thousands of RMB, the circulation cycle is greatly prolonged, the greatly increased wastage rate and various expenses brought by customs clearance and centralized supervision warehouses, after more than a year of consumption, small enterprises cannot support it. Large enterprises continue to increase their weight by virtue of their resource advantages, and the resources of the imported cold chain industry are constantly tilted towards large enterprises, waiting for a suitable high price to prepare to sell commodities.



Why can’t we stop importing frozen food to China?

But even so, we cannot stop cold chain imports. To put it simply, there are two reasons: market turmoil brought about by disrupting an industry, and social problems.


China’s pork market as a whole is in short supply. In 2019, China’s pork production and sales both fell. In 2019, the country’s pork production was 42.55 million metric tons, a year-on-year decrease of 21%, and a decrease of 11% in 2020; A decrease of 5% is smaller than the decrease in production, resulting in an increase in the production and sales rate of pork in China to 112%, a large increase, and the overall pork market in China is in short supply. This is also why the amount of pork exported to China is consistently rising.


In this case, imported meat constitutes an important part of the national food life. According to customs data, the cumulative import of meat in 2021 is nearly 9.38 million tons; the annual import value in 2021 is nearly 32.2 billion US dollars, a year-on-year increase of 4.6%. Among them, the total imported pork in 2021 will be 3.71 million tons.


This largely supplements domestic supply and demand and plays a role in stabilizing prices. Taking pork as an example, in 2020, with the supply of live pigs shrinking, the demand for imports will be even stronger. According to data released by the General Administration of Customs, the average import price of pork in China continued to drop from 22.4 yuan per kilogram in January 2020 to 16.5 yuan per kilogram in August, which is the same as the average price of pork in the national agricultural market at the end of August of 48.42 yuan per kilogram. In comparison, the price advantage of pork imports is relatively large, which promotes an increase in import volume to a certain extent.


Without these pork supplements, the average pork price in August could have been much higher than 48 yuan per kilogram.


Taking shrimp as an example, it is precise because there are many varieties of shrimp, such as green shrimp, prawns, white shrimp, black tiger shrimp, nine-section shrimp, etc., which are domestically farmed, caught in the distant sea, and imported from abroad, with different prices. Different, these jointly maintain the price stability of “shrimp” products. Previously, the price of Ecuadorian white shrimp plummeted because of the positive test, while the price of other species of shrimp almost doubled. Considering that domestic shrimps are far from meeting the consumption demand of the domestic market, the imported shrimps are not only the Ecuadorian white shrimps. The consequences of breaking the imported cold chain are estimated to be like the soaring garlic prices many years ago, and similar situations will occur in Meat, dairy products, aquatic products.


The imported cold chain is a powerful tool to alleviate the contradiction between China’s inherent agricultural conditions and the people’s growing consumer demand. China’s agricultural conditions are there, and the environmental pollution problems, market risk problems, and low price problems caused by rapid expansion in the short term are far greater than what can be achieved. Import cold chain that avoids risks through control.


In addition, there are about 300,000 imported cold chain food practitioners nationwide, and there are 33,700 imported cold chain food practitioners in Beijing alone. These people generally have little culture, they are all migrant workers from rural areas, and they belong to a group of people who will find it difficult to find new jobs in a short period of time if they lose their jobs. The sudden stop of cold chain imports will inevitably affect social stability.


Wanting to stop importing the cold chain, on the one hand, people have an extreme distrust of foreign epidemic prevention and control, and on the other hand, they are afraid of things that can threaten life and safety, and hope to stay away from themselves.


But in fact, the impact of imported cold chains is everywhere. Except for NFC juice (“non-concentrated reduced juice”), all fruit juices are processed from imported concentrated fruit pulp, and a large part of high fructose syrup also comes from abroad (mainly high fruit juice Candy glucose syrup, 99.9% fructose glucose syrup technology is the foundation of Coca-Cola’s invincible position), and a large part of the pig’s trotters, chicken wings, chicken feet, and chicken legs are imported from Europe to China, but everyone usually just didn’t notice it.


At present, the refrigerated container products exported to China from relevant countries, the origin of the COVID-19 virus, and the centralized wholesale locations in China:

Ecuador exports vannamei shrimp to China, the main wholesale markets are located in Dalian, Xiamen, Chongqing, Anhui, Shaanxi.

For other frozen seafood exported to China, the main wholesale markets for salmon are in Shandong and Beijing.

Brazil exports frozen chicken wings, frozen beef, frozen hairtail, the market is located in Shenzhen

Indonesia exports frozen hairtail to China, the main market is in Shenzhen

Russia exports squid whiskers to China, the main market is in Shenzhen

Norway exports Frozen fish to China, with the main market located in Shenzhen.



And who are the people who most want to stop importing the cold chain? They are engaged in imported cold chain trade. Their original profit model is to buy a lot when the price is low, and sell things when the price is high. They use the game of futures. They buy a large number of goods at one time and then store them in cold storage There will be no noticeable difference in quality within 1 year. The Bestforworld cold chain team is very knowledgeable about Chinese frozen product traders, and COVID-19 has a very big impact and impact on those traders.


Here is another thing that comes to mind. When the epidemic just started to take shape at the end of 2019 and before the Chinese New Year in 2020, Bestforworld learned of a company that can still trade in imported aquatic products. Knowing that there may be a large-scale epidemic, they imported refrigerated containers all over the world in advance and imported 10 containers a week. The epidemic has made such large enterprises live better, but small enterprises cannot buy goods, and the goods received may also suffer heavy losses due to the epidemic. The imported cold chain food industry is gradually developing in the direction of larger and larger enterprises. It is also very bad for the industry.


Stopping the import of cold chain is not conducive to national strategy:


Stopping the imported cold chain to China is not conducive to social stability;


Stopping the imported cold chain to China is not conducive to the development of people’s livelihood;


Who benefits from stopping imported cold chains?


It is beneficial to capitalists who do import cold chain trade;


It is conducive to the financial industry that takes the opportunity to carry out venture capital mergers and acquisitions.


Under the global epidemic, China’s national epidemic prevention capability has performed very well, and everyone can fully trust China’s regulatory system.



Bestforworld is a leading freight forwarder for shipping from China, proficient in refrigerated container operations for export.

At the same time, Bestforworld has helped a large number of Chinese buyers and overseas suppliers ship to China in the past five years.

Bestforworld provides door-to-door export to China logistics services, from overseas factories and warehouses to all ports and airports in China, completing customs clearance in China. This service benefits both shippers and buyers, as well as middlemen around the world.

Bestforworld is proficient in customs clearance of the following products exported to China:
Wine, Whiskey, Soda, Beverages and All Kinds of Alcohol
Plastic particles
hardware tools
Engineering equipment
CNC machine

Contact Bestforworld for an export logistics quote for export to China.