Shipping food is a multi-billion pound business all over the world. Everything from huge shipments of canned food, to the fresh (hopefully!) pizza that gets delivered to your door. Without such courier services much of the food we consume would not be available, such as strawberries in January, and the price would be higher. Even locally produced items need to be shipped to the market, and there are several things to consider when doing so, not only to prevent spoiling, but also to keep costs down.
- To keep produce and other food items cold it’s recommended to use dry-ice and/or cold gel packs. They both have their advantages and disadvantages, and usually the best results come from combining the two materials. Dry-ice will keep the food colder (as it stays at around -109C) but for a shorter time. Gel packs, on the other hand, will stay colder longer – but not as cold. If the food you are shipping is sensitive to liquid, dry ice is also the best option as gel packs become damp when thawing. Make sure that you use a container that can keep the food isolated, like Styrofoam boxes for example, and use a close-fitting size. Be sure to liberally use duct tape to seal the container to prevent leaks and warm air from entering.
- Always use a container that can withstand a rough ride, and if shipping fragile goods like glass jars, secure them using bubble wrap to prevent them from breaking. If palletising your goods, be sure to use straps and plastic to secure the load. Always assume it will be a bumpy road and plan accordingly.
- For international shipping always make sure that the import and export restrictions are followed. Normally every item needs a declaration of ingredients, and to be in the original packaging.
- Vacuum seal sensitive foodstuffs. This will prevent food from being exposed to the surrounding air during the transportation, which is godsend for fresh food like meat products. This can be combined with dry ice to be kept cold.
- Even if you write “This Way Up” on the boxes, don’t expect them to stay that way. If you have goods that need to stand a certain way, always palletise your shipment.
- It might be an obvious point, but always use the faster shipping option when transporting fresh food. Even if packaged correctly (with cold elements, or vacuum-sealed) you still want the shipment to arrive as soon as possible, this is also to be on safe side if there are any delays. Overnight would be the best option, but up to 48h could be doable depending on the goods.
There are a whole slew of laws and regulations for shipping outside of the EU, and if your business is planning on doing so, contact your courier service for more information. While shipping fresh food requires more of both the sender and the receiver, it is a great way to satisfy a market that is beyond your local area.