If you’re someone looking to start a food business or already have a startup going, one of the most important things you need to understand is how to properly ship your products! Food items are highly temperature-sensitive and cannot be shipped like other regular cargo. If your products reach your customers spoiled, it will not only majorly decrease customer satisfaction rate and cause bad reviews, but it will also affect your brand’s reputation and image!
A lot of things have to be taken care of when shipping products, like meat, agricultural produce, frozen food, prepared dishes and baked items, vegetables, seafood, and fruits. These products belong to the perishable goods class, and anyone who’s in these businesses must know the protocol for shipping these products. Your deliveries should reach your valued customers fresh, unspoiled, free of contamination, and in their original state!
Fresh deliveries mean happy, satisfied customers who won’t only leave amazing reviews and recommend your brand to their close circle but will become regulars, helping your business grow and flourish!
In this blog post, we are going to discuss in detail the best possible ways to ship frozen food items. From preparation and packaging to choosing the right shipping methods and following national and international frozen shipping guidelines, we’re going to tell you everything there is to frozen foods shipping!
A Step by Step Guide on Shipping Frozen Foods
Shipping frozen food items is not like shipping regular, non-perishable goods. The process is more complex, with much more complications. Especially for someone who’s new to the frozen food or perishable delivery business, the whole procedure, along with its regulations and guidelines, can seem a bit too complicated. This is why we have decided to divide the whole process into a step-by-step guide for your ease!
Here is a step-by-step guide on how to properly and safely ship frozen food to your valued customers!
Step Number 1 – Preparing the Product for Shipping
The initial step in the process is preparing your food items for shipping. For this, freeze or cool them at the optimum temperature. Some items need to be frozen before shipping, whereas others need to be cooled. This is because freezing and unfreezing can ruin their quality and texture. For example, baked goods, vegetables, and fruits are cooled, whereas meat is frozen before shipping.
In addition to that, it is vital to understand that various types of food items have specific temperature requirements. Do a bit of research beforehand so you know how and at what temperature your product should be cooled at.
If the items are not properly cooled or frozen, they will be at risk of going bad during transit. There will be temperature and humidity changes during the shipping procedure, and if the items are not properly prepared, the fluctuation will affect their quality, shelf-life, and state.
Step Number 2 – Proper Packaging
The second step in shipping frozen food is proper packaging. Your packaging will not only protect your temperature-sensitive item from temperature fluctuation, but it will also protect it from external contaminations.
Understanding and Utilizing Different Types of Packaging
First of all, understand that there are different types of packaging materials and types available in the market. Specific types are good for specific kinds of food products. But before everything else, you must make sure that the packaging you choose is made from food-safe materials. Ensure that the material is non-toxic and won’t contaminate your product.
Since the material will probably be exposed to heat during shipping, it mustn’t be physically or chemically changed under high temperatures. A variety of packaging types are available, including cardboard boxes, plastic bags, sealable boxes and packs, foam packaging, glass packaging, wooden boxes, crates, etc. Make sure that you do proper research for selecting suitable packaging based on your product type.
It is also a good practice to choose a biodegradable and environment-friendly option. This will positively impact your brand image, and you’ll also be catering to eco-conscious customers.
Using the Right Coolant
Shipping frozen food requires the use of a coolant so that the temperature of the cargo is maintained throughout the shipping procedure. There are different types of coolants with their specific properties. Some are used to keep the food cool, whereas others are used to keep it frozen.
Make sure that you choose the right coolant type based on the temperature you want to maintain your product. Seal your item in a sealable plastic bag or box before adding an outer layer of coolant.
Gel packs are the most common type of coolant used to ship frozen food. Gel packs are used for products that need to be maintained at 1 to 10 degrees Celsius. These packs contain a special kind of liquid coolant. This coolant is pre-cooled at a specific temperature, and its chemicals maintain this temperature during transit.
Gel packs can be easily bought, and there are biodegradable options available in them as well. However, make sure that you seal your product container before lining it with gel packs. So in case even if the packs burst or get leaked during shipping, they won’t contaminate the food items.
A very popular coolant used when shipping frozen food is wet ice. Wet ice keeps the products cool during shipping. It is made by freezing water, and it melts during shipping. Because of this, extra precautions must be taken when using wet ice as a coolant in shipping. First, line the inside of your container with a very large polythene bag. You can also add absorbent material for extra protection.
When packing wet ice into bags, make sure you use two 2-mil pages. This is the recommended standard practice.
The most commonly used coolant for keeping frozen products frozen during shipping is dry ice. Dry ice is made by chilling gaseous carbon dioxide to the point that it reaches its solid form. Dry ice will not melt but change directly into vaporous CO2. Dry ice is much colder as compared to regular wet ice, and it effectively keeps the frozen products frozen without contaminating them.
However, dry ice is very hazardous and must be handled with utmost care. Make sure that you use gloves and laboratory goggles when handling dry ice. In case you’re shipping internationally, mark the box with “Dry Ice” or “Solid Carbon Dioxide” along with the coolant’s weight in kilograms (Kg).
Products such as butter, cheese, cream, etc., can melt during shipping. Such products are called meltables. These kinds of products need to be sealed in proper air-tight packaging before shipping. You don’t want your much-valued customers to receive a leaky package or box. This will have a bad impact on your brand’s reputation and image.
You can use double bags to be extra safe. In addition to that, add an absorbent layer to your packaging to keep things as tidy as possible.
Step Number 3 – Proper Boxing and Labeling
Use insulation-lined and sealable boxes when shipping frozen food items. To add extra insulation and padding to protect your item from damage, you can add styrofoam beads or bubble wrap. Just like in packaging, many biodegradable and eco-friendly options are available in these as well.
Make sure that you correctly label your cargo according to national guidelines if you’re shipping cross-state and international guidelines if you’re shipping cross-country. If you’re using dry ice as a coolant, label it on the box, along with its weight in kilograms (kg).
Step Number 4 – Choosing the Right Shipping Method
Frozen items cannot be shipped through regular shipping. This is where frozen shipping comes in. Frozen or cold chain shipping is utilized to ship frozen food items. This method uses special techniques and equipment to maintain your cargo’s conditions (temperature, humidity, and airflow) during shipping.
The goods transported using frozen or cold chain shipping are kept at a specific set temperature during packing, loading, transport, unloading, and delivery to maintain their quality and integrity. This ensures that your clients receive their deliveries just like you sent them.
You can also choose a reputable and well-known logistics company, such as Cold Chain 3PL, to handle all your frozen shipping for you. The brand’s well-trained, highly-professional employees will make sure that your goods reach their destination in their original state.
Complications in Shipping Frozen Foods
Various complications can occur when shipping frozen food. These complications can include temperature fluctuation during shipping, loading, and offloading, vehicle breakdown, packaging wear and tear resulting in heat exposure, vehicle breakdown, etc. These complications are common and if you’ve chosen an experienced shipping company like Cold Chain 3PL, they will be handled effectively, and won’t affect your cargo.
Final Thoughts – How to Ship Frozen Foods
Frozen foods are temperature-sensitive and must be shipped with extreme care. Changes in temperature can affect their quality, shelf-life, and integrity and even cause spoilage during shipping. Such items are shipped using special kinds of packaging and techniques so they are kept as fresh as possible. Utilize the tips and methods explained in our blog post to securely send your food items to your valued customers.