Sweet peppers [German version]

Table of contents

Product information
  Container transport
  Cargo securing

Risk factors and loss prevention:
Temperature Odor
Humidity/Moisture Contamination
Ventilation Mechanical influences
Biotic activity Toxicity / Hazards to health
Gases Shrinkage/Shortage
Self-heating / Spontaneous combustion Insect infestation / Diseases

Product information

Product name

German Paprika (Gemüsepaprika)
English Sweet pepper
French Poivron
Spanish Pimiento
Scientific Capsicum annuum
CN/HS number * 0709 60 10

(* EU Combined Nomenclature/Harmonized System)

Product description

Sweet peppers come originally from South and Central America and belong to the Solanaceae (nightshade) family. Sweet peppers were introduced into Europe for the first time at the beginning of the 16th century. Although the fruit of the sweet pepper plant are referred to colloquially as pods, they are actually berries.

The various varieties of sweet pepper differ greatly in color, shape and size. Sweet peppers are often green or red in color, but sometimes also yellow, white, purple or black. Green and red sweet peppers are of one and the same variety, the difference in color arising simply from different harvest times. Green sweet peppers are not fully mature and, although they continue to ripen during storage and do turn red, they never reach such an intense shade as sweet peppers which have been left to mature fully on the plant.

The inside of a sweet pepper is hollow and subdivided by partitions, to which the whitish seeds are attached. The outside of the sweet pepper comprises a very shiny skin.

The pungent flavor of the sweet pepper is derived from the alkaloid capsaicin. However, the capsaicin content of sweet peppers is not very high, so their flavor is quite mild.

Sweet peppers are distinguished by a high vitamin C content, which is higher than that of all other types of fruit and vegetable.

Quality / Duration of storage

The skin of the sweet pepper must be in perfect condition, with no spots, injuries or signs that it is drying out or starting to spoil.

Various sources state maximum duration of storage as follows:

Temperature Rel. humidity Max. duration of storage Source
8 – 9°C 95% 21 days [5]
7 – 8°C high rel. hum. 14 days [12]
8 – 10°C high rel. hum. 7 days [12]

Where controlled atmosphere transport is used, the transport and storage duration of sweet peppers may be extended. The following parameters apply in such a case [16]:

Temperature Rel. humidity O2 CO2 Suitability for controlled atmosphere
7.2 – 10°C 90 – 95% 3 – 5% 0 – 3% Moderate

Intended use

Sweet peppers are either eaten fresh (e.g. in salads) or braised as an accompaniment to other dishes.


(Click on the individual Figures to enlarge them.)

Photo, sweet pepper

Figure 1
Photo, sweet pepper

Figure 2
Photo, sweet pepper

Figure 3
Drawing, sweet pepper

Figure 4

Countries of origin

This Table shows only a selection of the most important countries of origin and should not be thought of as exhaustive.

Europe Germany, France, Turkey, Spain, Romania, Italy, former Yugoslavia, Hungary, Bulgaria, Netherlands
Africa Kenya, Senegal, Zambia, Ethiopia, Morocco
Asia Israel
America USA, Brazil, Mexico

Back to beginning


Sweet peppers are packaged in crates, fruit crates or cartons holding approx. 5 – 6 kg. They are often sold loose or in nets.

Wrapping in perforated plastic film has proven effective, as sweet peppers easily become shriveled and shrink.

Back to beginning



Symbol, general cargo

General cargo
Symbol, temperature-controlled


Means of transport

Ship, truck, railroad, aircraft

Container transport

Refrigerated container with fresh air supply or controlled atmosphere.

Cargo handling

Since sweet peppers are highly sensitive to impact, they must be handled with appropriate care.

The required refrigeration temperature must always be maintained, even during cargo handling.

In damp weather (rain, snow), the cargo must be protected from moisture, as there is otherwise a risk of premature spoilage.

Stowage factor

6.50 m3/t (cartons) [1]

Stowage space requirements

Cool, well ventilated, dry


Fiber rope, thin fiber nets, wooden dunnage

Cargo securing

Because of its considerable impact- and pressure-sensitivity, packages of this cargo must be secured in such a way that they are prevented from damaging each other. Spaces between packages or pallets must be filled, to prevent slippage or tipping. By selecting the correct packaging size or cargo unit (area module or area module multiple), holds can be tightly loaded (without spaces).

Back to beginning

Risk factors and loss prevention

RF Temperature

Sweet peppers require particular temperature, humidity/moisture and ventilation conditions (SC VII) (storage climate conditions).

A written cooling order must be obtained from the consignor before loading is begun. This order must always be complied with during the entire transport chain.

The following Table merely constitutes an estimate of appropriate temperature ranges. Temperatures may deviate from these values, depending on the particular transport conditions.

Designation Temperature range Source
Travel temperature 8 – 9°C [5]
7 – 10°C [12]

At temperatures below 7°C, sweet peppers suffer chilling damage.

Back to beginning

RF Humidity/Moisture

Sweet peppers require particular temperature, humidity/moisture and ventilation conditions (SC VII) (storage climate conditions).

Designation Humidity/water content Source
Relative humidity 95% [5]
Water content 91% [1]
Maximum equilibrium moisture content 90% [1]

It is essential to maintain high relative humidity levels, as sweet peppers have a tendency to shrivel rapidly.

On the other hand, protection from moisture (seawater, rain and condensation water) is advisable, to prevent the sweet peppers from turning moldy and rotting.

Back to beginning

RF Ventilation

Sweet peppers require particular temperature, humidity/moisture and ventilation conditions (SC VII) (storage climate conditions).

Recommended ventilation conditions: circulating air, 60 – 80 circulations/hour with continuous supply of fresh air, to prevent excessive concentrations of CO2, ethylene and other gases.

Back to beginning

RF Biotic activity

Sweet peppers display 2nd order biotic activity.

They are living organs in which respiration processes predominate, because their supply of new nutrients has been cut off by separation from the parent plant.

Care of the cargo during the voyage must be aimed at controlling respiration processes (release of CO2, water vapor, ethylene and heat) in such a way that the cargo is at the desired stage of ripeness on reaching its destination. Inadequate ventilation may result in fermentation and rotting of the cargo as a result of increased CO2 levels and inadequate supply of atmospheric oxygen (see Ventilation).

Back to beginning

RF Gases

CO2 evolution During storage, sweet peppers evolve CO2 by respiration processes.
Upper limit of permissible CO2 content 0.2 vol.%
Ethylene evolution  
Active behavior Sweet peppers exhibit low levels of ethylene production, their ethylene production rate being 0.1 µl/kg*h [16].
Passive behavior The ethylene sensitivity of sweet peppers is low [16] (allelopathy).

If ventilation has been inadequate (frost) or has failed owing to a defect, life-threatening CO2 concentrations or O2 shortages may arise. Therefore, before anybody enters the hold, it must be ventilated and a gas measurement carried out.

Back to beginning

RF Self-heating / Spontaneous combustion

No risk.

Back to beginning

RF Odor

Active behavior Sweet peppers have a very slight, pleasant odor.
Passive behavior Sweet peppers are highly odor-sensitive.

Back to beginning

RF Contamination

Active behavior Sweet peppers do not cause contamination.
Passive behavior Sweet peppers are sensitive to dirt, fats and oils. The holds or containers must accordingly be clean and in a thoroughly hygienic condition before loading.

Back to beginning

RF Mechanical influences

Because of their high impact- and pressure-sensitivity, sweet peppers must be treated with great care during cargo handling, transport and storage, since otherwise they may spoil prematurely.

Back to beginning

RF Toxicity / Hazards to health

If ventilation has been inadequate (frost) or has failed owing to a defect, life-threatening CO2 concentrations or O2 shortages may arise. Therefore, before anybody enters the hold, it must be ventilated and a gas measurement carried out. The TLV for CO2 concentration is 0.49 vol.%.

Back to beginning

RF Shrinkage/Shortage

Weight loss amounts to approx. 2 – 3%, depending on the prevailing humidity, and is a consequence of the thin skin surrounding the fruit, leading to a rapid onset of shriveling and shrinkage of the sweet peppers.

Back to beginning

RF Insect infestation / Diseases

Chilling damage: sweet peppers suffer chilling damage at storage temperatures of below 7°C. It manifests itself externally in dark, watery spots on the skin. The skin becomes detached from the flesh and the inside of the sweet pepper may break down.

Botrytis cinerea: excessively high temperatures may lead to attack by the mold Botrytis cinerea, which manifests itself in gray spots on the skin of the fruit.

Alternaria: this mold also occurs when storage temperatures are too high and manifests itself in initially small, sunken spots.

The quarantine regulations of the country of destination must be complied with and a phytosanitary certificate may have to be enclosed with the shipping documents. Information may be obtained from the phytosanitary authorities of the countries concerned.

Back to beginning