Chilies, chili 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 Chillies, Chilies, Chilischoten
English Chilies, chili peppers
French Chili
Spanish Chile
Scientific Capsicum frutescens
CN/HS number * 0904 20 ff.

(* EU Combined Nomenclature/Harmonized System)

Product description

Chilies or chili peppers are the dried berry fruits (0.7 – 3.0 cm long, 0.3 – 1.0 cm wide) of a small variety of the pepper of the genus Capsicum (nightshade family, Solanaceae). They consist of conically pointed pods ranging from orange-yellow to yellowish-red in color. Chilies are a hotter spice than large sweet peppers.

The term spice is used to refer to plant parts which serve to improve the odor and flavor of foods. They contain essential oils and other ingredients which have a strong seasoning action.

Spices are processed, cleaned, graded and carefully packaged for overseas dispatch in the countries where they are cultivated. They are dried to preserve them for transport and storage. In consumer countries, they are delivered to spice mills, where they are cleaned and graded again, ready for sale in unground or ground form.

Cayenne pepper consists of ground chilies (chili powder).

Spices are classified by the plant parts used:

Fruit and seed spices (e.g. pepper, cardamom, chilies)
Bud and flower spices (e.g. cloves)
Bark spices (e.g. cinnamon)
Root spices (ginger, turmeric)
Leaf spices (bay leaf)

The chili plant, often known as the hot pepper, is native to the tropical regions of America and Africa.

Oil content: 1.0 – 3.2% [1] essential oils, in particular capsaicin.

Quality / Duration of storage

Chilies must be bright red, very hot and free of pests, foreign matter and mold, with only a very small proportion of damaged fruits.

Chilies may be kept for approx. 12 months if the recommended storage conditions are complied with and are shipped all year round.

Intended use

Chilies are used in cooking, the food industry and, in extract form, in the pharmaceutical industry. Cayenne pepper is an important ingredient of curry.


(Click on the individual Figures to enlarge them.)

Photo, chilies

Figure 1
Drawing, chilies

Figure 2

Countries of origin

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

Africa Nigeria, Kenya, Uganda
Asia India, China, Korea, Vietnam, Pakistan, Thailand, Japan
America Mexico, USA

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Chilies are packaged in flat jute fabric bags (20 kg), among other things, or transported in bales.

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Symbol, general cargo

General cargo

Means of transport

Ship, truck, railroad

Container transport

Standard containers may be used, subject to compliance with lower limits for water content of goods, packaging and container flooring.

According to [11], standard containers are suitable only for short voyages and then only if the doors of the containers are opened and left folded back during the voyage. The on-board stowage position must allow sufficient ventilation. According to [11], open-sided containers are particularly suitable, provided that the side tarpaulins are rolled up throughout the voyage. The containers must be stowed in a weather-protected position.

Cargo handling

In damp weather (rain, snow), the cargo must be protected from moisture, since this may lead to mold, spoilage and self-heating.

Hooks must not be used in handling bagged goods as they subject the bags to point loads, so damaging them. Due to their shape, plate or bag hooks apply an area load and are thus more suitable for handling bags.

Stowage factor

3.53 m³/t (flat jute fabric bags, 20 kg) [1]
2.65 – 3.07 m³/t (bags) [11]
5.57 – 6.97 m³/t (bales) [11]
1.80 – 2.51 m³/t (cayenne pepper in bags) [14]

Stowage space requirements

Cool, dry, good ventilation


Fiber rope, thin fiber nets, wooden dunnage

Cargo securing

In order to ensure safe transport, the cargo must be stowed and secured in the means of transport in such a manner that it cannot slip or shift during transport. If loss of volume and degradation of quality are to be avoided, the packages must not be damaged by other articles or items of cargo.

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Risk factors and loss prevention

RF Temperature

Chilies require particular temperature, humidity/moisture and possibly ventilation conditions (SC VI) (storage climate conditions).

Favorable travel temperature range: 5 – 25°C [1]

Chilies should be transported in areas which exhibit the lowest temperatures during the voyage and are dry. In any event, storage beneath the weather deck or, in the case of shipping in containers, in the uppermost layer on deck, must be avoided as the deck or container is strongly heated by the intense tropical sun and, at temperatures of > 25°C, essential oils may be lost and there is a risk of self-heating.

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RF Humidity/Moisture

Chilies require particular temperature, humidity/moisture and possibly ventilation conditions (SC VI) (storage climate conditions).

Designation Humidity/water content Source
Relative humidity 60 – 70% [1]
Water content 8 – 12% [1]
Maximum equilibrium moisture content 65% [1]

Spices are hygroscopic goods (hygroscopicity), which interact with the moisture in the air. The risk of mold growth is naturally at its greatest in warm, damp air. The cargo may become musty, and the risk of self-heating increases with an elevated air moisture content.

Chilies should be stowed away from goods which are sensitive to moisture/humidity or release moisture (e.g. copra).

In order to prevent condensation on the hold or container walls from affecting the cargo, care should be taken to leave a clear gap between the cargo stack and the hold or container wall.

If chilies have not been properly dried when packaged, mold growth and blackening occur (lump formation). Self-heating of the product may occur as a result either of an excessive intrinsic moisture content or excessively tight packaging.

Chilies must always be protected from seawater, rain and condensation water.

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RF Ventilation

Chilies require particular temperature, humidity/moisture and possibly ventilation conditions (SC VI) (storage climate conditions).

If the product is at „shipping dryness“, it does not have to be ventilated during transport. However, if the water content does not meet these guidelines, the following ventilation measures should be implemented to eliminate the potential for dampness:

Recommended ventilation conditions: air exchange rate: 10 changes/hour (airing)

In order to avoid formation of mold, the stowage space should be cool, dry and, most particularly, easy to ventilate.

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RF Biotic activity

Chilies display 3rd order biotic activity.

Chilies belong to the class of products in which respiration processes are suspended, but in which biochemical, microbial and other decomposition processes still proceed.

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RF Gases

No risk.

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RF Self-heating / Spontaneous combustion

Oil content: 1.0 – 3.2% [1] essential oils, in particular capsaicin.

In addition to the residual water content remaining after drying, the risk of self-heating is also explained by the relatively high content of fatty oils.

An elevated moisture content and excessively high temperatures increase the risk of self-heating still further.

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RF Odor

Active behavior Chilies have a highly unpleasant, pungent odor and should in no case be stowed together with other foodstuffs or odor-sensitive goods. They emit such a strong odor that even other highly odor-tainting goods, such as betelnuts and onions, are tainted.

When transporting spices, it is important to retain the content of essential oils to the greatest possible extent, since these substances, together with other constituents, such as fatty oils, tannins and bitter principles, determine the odor and flavor and thus quality of the spices.

The essential oils are readily volatilized and the seasoning action of the spices is consequently reduced. Volatilization of the essential oils is primarily determined by temperature. The higher is the ambient temperature, the more the essential oils are volatilized, as may be recognized by the intense odor in the hold.

Due to the readily volatilized essential oils, spices should always be stowed separately from each other and away from foodstuffs which readily absorb foreign odors (e.g. coffee, tea or peanuts).
Passive behavior Chilies are sensitive to goods with an unpleasant and/or pungent odor and should therefore not be stowed together with odor-emitting products (e.g. chemicals or cheese), as they very rapidly absorb the foreign odor from strongly odor-emitting goods.

The risk of odor absorption or transfer increases drastically if the relevant spices have already been ground prior to maritime transport, as the enlargement of surface area associated with the grinding process gives the essential oils a greater chance of volatilizing.

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RF Contamination

Active behavior Chilies do not cause contamination.
Passive behavior Chilies are sensitive to dust, dirt, fats and oils.

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RF Mechanical influences

Point loads applied for example by hooks may result in damage (tears) to the bags and thus to losses of volume. Plate or bag hooks, which, due to their shape, distribute the load and reduce the risk of damage, should thus be used.

Excessively dry goods crumble during cargo handling and if they are stacked too high. Broken chilies are virtually worthless, as the ground product resulting from breakage is fundamentally more expensive than chili powder ground in the countries of origin.

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RF Toxicity / Hazards to health

Due to the high content of capsaicin (C18H27NO3) of 0.3 – 0.5% [10] in chili fruits, cayenne pepper is very hot and should be measured out extremely sparingly. Even in small amounts, capsaicin causes a burning, hot sensation and pain to the mucous membranes of the mouth. Extended exposure causes ulcers and necrotic areas on the skin and irritation to the eyes.

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RF Shrinkage/Shortage

Where goods have been loaded in too moist a condition, their drying-out may result in weight loss of up to 1%. Loss of volume may be caused by damaged packages.

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RF Insect infestation / Diseases

Cargoes of chilies are very often infested by rats. Insects, such as the European red mite, thrips, flour beetle, sawtoothed grain beetle, gall midge, whitemarked spider beetle, tobacco beetle and rice caseworm, may also infest the product.

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