September 15, 2014

Passing the (Uni) Sushi Grade with “K” Line


Uni (oo-nee), the Japanese name for the edible part of the sea urchin, continues to garner attention –and taste buds—worldwide. An acquired taste to be sure, especially if one realizes that they are eating the gonads of a sea urchin; uni is a delicacy that must be handled with care to protect the quality and earn the highest product grade and price. Thermo King customer “K” Line recently proved this is no problem with the MAGNUM PLUS® reefer.

“K” Line managed a trial recently to prove the performance of Thermo King’s industry-leading reefer, namely its ability to keep the sea urchin Uni safely at temperature for the duration of a 35 days shipment from Chile to Japan.

“The sea urchin is in high demand by the Japanese market for sushi restaurants so transport is a lucrative opportunity for us,” said Edwin Escobar, assistant general manager of “K” Line Chile. “The product must be kept at the lowest temperature possible to maintain the texture and quality demanded by the market.”


The Trial

The MAGNUM PLUS reefers were moved via cabotage vessel from Chile’s San Antonio and Lirquen ports into Punta Arenas port for loading by the exporter. Sea urchin uni was loaded at the required pre-cool temperature of -40 C, and the reefers were pre-set to maintain -40 C and -35 C box temperatures.

To ensure preloaded product temperatures, the uni is individually deep-frozen through a nitrogen station/tunnel. The process is executed before the product is loaded into the container.

The easy-to-set and -read Thermo King MAGNUM PLUS controller indicated that the units were operating at optimal conditions with a simple visual check by showing a ‘smiley face’ on the screen. Once performance and settings were confirmed (supply temperature measured -40.3 C), the containers were moved to the main port and trans-loaded to vessels headed for Asia.

“These low temperatures are critical to preserving product quality,” explained Gino Ansaldi, sales and service manager of Thermo King Marine Solutions. “The portion of the sea urchin being shipped by “K” Line is susceptible to dehydration. It must be kept at extreme low temperatures to maintain texture, firmness and a ‘just-harvested’ quality taste.

“The MAGNUM PLUS is able to keep the product at stable deep-frozen temperatures and eliminate moisture re-freeze, which contributes to freezer burn, product dehydration, and color, texture or flavor altering.”



Upon arrival, the sea urchin uni was inspected and accepted for delivery, with positive comments from both the receivers and the “K” Line surveyor. Each container successfully delivered 2,040 boxes of product, totaling more than 9 tons of sushi-grade uni.

The success resulted in “K” Line successfully participating in the entire sea urchin export season, which started in May/June of this year.


“K” Line (Kawasaki Kisen Kaisha, Ltd.) enjoys a long standing tradition of excellence in transportation service and reliability.  From its beginnings in 1919 to its state-of-the-industry technological advancements of today, "K" Line has been dedicated to serving the shipping community. "K" Line is a worldwide integrated transportation enterprise prepared to address the challenges of an ever changing environment. Learn more at

Customer: “K” Line |