Guide to Shipping Perishable Food

Perishable foods are items with limited shelf life or foods that spoil due to temperature changes. With these distinctions in mind, perishable food can range from fruits and veggies to dairy, meat, fish and certain chemicals.

Due to their unique nature, a guide to shipping perishable food requires attention to detail. While they may not require round-the-clock refrigeration, perishable foods are often vulnerable to heat. Therefore, you’ll have to take measures like gel packs, dry ice or even using a reefer container.

It’s important to remember that the presence of preservatives doesn’t mean a food item isn’t perishable. Before making shipping plans, you should always check the label info for storage temperatures. If there’s mention of a specific storage temperature, you’re most likely dealing with food that can spoil due to temperature changes.

This blog is your one-stop guide to shipping perishable foods. We’ll explore the best shipping practises for different perishables and cover important considerations for safe cargo delivery.

How to Ship Fruits and Vegetables

Temperature is the main guide informing any shipping plan for these perishables. Veggies and fruit tend to be vulnerable under high heat conditions. As plants, the elevated temperature levels boost the production of ethylene gas. Consequently, the plants will ripen and spoil much quicker than usual.

Another critical part of how to ship perishables is packing. Fruits and vegetables will suffer bruising without proper padding. While you may be tempted to use bubble wrap, it’s the wrong option. Bubble wrap will reduce air circulation, thereby affecting the integrity of your perishable food product.

The better option is a foam layer under the fruit and vegetables. Indented foams roughly the same size of the cargo will allow airflow. You can also place an extra layer on top of the perishables for maximum protection.

Individual provinces often have restrictions regarding plant transportation. Typically, these restrictions are in place to prevent infections native to these plants. Therefore, ensure you’re using a freight delivery service that keeps up with local legislation to move your perishables. This due diligence will prevent the authorities from seizing your perishable cargo.

Guide to Shipping Perishable Candy and Chocolate

Gummies, candy and chocolate will melt under high temperatures. And the inside of freight trucks can get hot, especially when the summer season gets going. Even candy you’ve never had issues with may start to melt under these extreme temperatures.

The best way to ship these perishables is by wrapping them in waterproof packaging. Waterproof packaging can insulate the candy bars. It’ll also prevent any melted candy from contaminating other parts of the shipment.

The best way to preserve chocolate cargo during the transportation is a foam container packed with frozen gel or dry ice. These options will hold up for transit times of less than 48 hours. It’s best to consider a reefer truck if you’re shipping perishable candy over longer distances. While a reefer truck will certainly increase perishable shipping costs, it’s the best option for expensive cargo.

Guide to Shipping Raw Meat and Frozen Meat

Most people ask for a guide to shipping perishable food because they want to move meat or fish across Canada. Shipping meat can be a complicated logistical challenge that requires attention to detail.

Meat can spoil easily, posing a health hazard to end consumers. Even spoilt meat will taste and smell fine while harbouring harmful bacteria. Therefore, it’s easy for unsuspecting consumers to end up with food poisoning.

Your best bet is a reefer truck which will keep the meat frozen for the duration of your journey. Frozen meat can’t encourage bacterial growth at sub-zero temperatures. But even with that, you must use temperature-controlled boxes to do your packing. A styrofoam cooler with dry ice or reusable gel packs will insulate meat or fish against temperature fluctuations.

Finally, pay double attention while packing meat and fish for freight delivery. Extra wrapping and sealing are important to avoid leakage. You can also use a plastic bag at the outermost layer — in the event of punctures.

Best Way to Transport Shelf-Stable Foods

Typically, shelf stability is the ability of food to remain in good condition as long as it’s under room temperature. But even shelf-stable food can suffer damage due to extreme temperature and excessive movement.

As such, your guide to shipping shelf-stable food items for your business must make allowances for packing. Use plenty of padding if the food items are in thin cardboard boxes. Similarly, wrap powdered food items with plastic in the event of damage mid-transit.

Shelf-Stable Foods

Tips for Shipping Baked Goods

Baked goods are super fragile and will go stale without proper packing. Typically, baked goods need airtight packaging. You can achieve this with rigid plastic containers or plastic bags.

Eco-friendly packing peanuts are the perfect cushion layer for your baked goods. For larger boxes, inflatable air pillows will give your perishables a solid cushion.

The above methods are great for baked goods without frosting. If you’re looking to shop frosted baked goods, you’ll have to pay extra for special handling. We also recommend using a “this side up” sticker on the packing boxes.

Related Article: How Does Shipping Work on Amazon Sellers?

Considerations for Shipping Perishables

Small business owners who ship perishables regularly need a detailed plan that ensures smooth freight transport. Here’s what your plan should include:

A Packing System

There are many options to protect your perishable food’s integrity. They include:

Styrofoam Boxes

They come with an exterior cardboard box and with standard sizing measurements too. Styrofoam boxes also have various thicknesses: the thicker the styrofoam box, the fewer ice packs you need. You can always request samples from your supplier before making a purchase.

Styrofoam Cut Sheets

Although they have standard sizes, you can customize cut sheets to fit any box. They’re usually less expensive than styrofoam boxes but are not as effective at keeping your perishables cold.

Insulated Liners

Insulated liners look just like emergency blankets, but they have a bubble wrap texture. The major advantage of insulated liners is wrapping your product tightly and filling any space with bubble wrap.

Air Filled Insulation Liners

For business owners looking to save money on shipping perishable products, air filled insulation liners are always the way to go. They come with a hand pump or an air tank to accommodate larger volumes. It’s pretty effective at keeping perishable foods cold since it uses air’s thermal properties.

Insulated Pads

Insulation pads combine the effectiveness of styrofoam with insulated liners’ reflective property. This makes them a greener solution.

Method to Keep Refrigerated Items Cold

The general rule is to use ice packs to ensure perishables stay refrigerated. However, dry ice is the best option to keep refrigerated products frozen. Here’s what we mean:

Ice Packs

When using ice packs for perishable shipping, be sure to test how many packs your cargo will need per box. While there are different kinds of ice packs, one-time-use ice packs are best.

Dry Ice

Dry ice is a hazardous chemical. Therefore, you’ll need due considerations while labelling your cargo. You should also inform your choice of shipping partner.

You can sidestep extra payments in most cases if the dry ice is less than 5.5 lbs. However, dry ice needs above 5.5 lbs will always translate to extra shipping costs.

How Much Dry Ice Do You Need?

The right answer depends on how much your product weighs. How much dry ice you need to ship perishables also depends on the distance to the delivery point.

This guide to shipping perishable products isn’t complete without exploring the influence of temperature. You should also account for temperature and weather conditions while deciding how much dry ice to use.

Related Article: How to Ship Refrigerated Products

Final Thoughts

The information above shows shipping perishable products successfully only happens with attention to detail and careful planning. Furthermore, you’ll need various packing products depending on the type of perishable products.

Are you looking for extra help with your perishable shipping process? RoadLINX is home to a team of experts that’ll get your perishable products to their destination without any hiccups. Contact us today to discuss shipping options!

Get a quote today!



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