Frozen food shipping is a complicated process, and among a lot of other things, packing is one of its most important aspects. Frozen foods are highly temperature-sensitive and are at a much greater risk of contamination and spoilage. This is why special shipping methods, protocols, and packaging types are utilized while shipping frozen foods.
Your frozen food items will undergo a lot of different challenges during the shipping procedure, including temperature fluctuation, humidity changes, moisture buildup, heat exposure, extremely low temperatures, etc. If your packaging isn’t sturdy enough to withstand these challenges, your frozen goods will be at risk of spoilage.
And you definitely don’t want spoiled or rotten goods being delivered to your much-valued customers.
Choosing the right packaging type and material will help preserve your frozen food’s quality, integrity, shelf-life, and state during shipping and transit. The right packaging will save your frozen products from temperature fluctuation, heat exposure, moisture, contamination, and spillage so your customers receive their deliveries just like you sent them!
In this blog post, we are going to discuss the different packaging options and materials available for shipping frozen foods. We will also discuss how these types will protect your frozen items during shipping. So read till the end!
Important Features Needed in Frozen Food Packaging
As discussed earlier, frozen items require special packaging types and materials to keep them preserved and intact during shipping. Here are some characteristics that must be present in packaging material for it to be used for frozen foods.
Primarily, the packaging that is to be used for frozen food must be temperature resistant. Your frozen products will undergo a lot of challenges during transit. Heat exposure during loading and off-loading, temperature and humidity changes, moisture buildup, and extremely low temperatures are common challenges that must be considered. The packaging you select for your products must be able to withstand these changing conditions.
The packaging material must not melt, crack, decompose, or release toxins in high temperatures. It must not bend or lose its shape when exposed to heat. It should be suitable for extreme colds, not just for high temperatures. The packaging material should not break, lose its form, or become brittle in extremely cold temperatures.
Food-Graded and Free of Toxins
Safety should be your number one concern when selecting a packaging type or material for your frozen food items. You do not want your valued customers to receive contaminated products or items that have become health hazards during shipping.
This is why it is extremely important to select a food-graded packaging option. The packaging must be free of toxins. Some packaging materials in the market are prone to release toxins when exposed to heat; steer clear of them. Ensure that the FDA has approved the packaging material. It is better to opt for eco-friendly and biodegradable packaging options as this will positively impact your brand reputation.
Easy to Fill, Seal, and Store
Lastly, your packaging must be easy to fill, seal, and store. Frozen food shipping is already a very complicated process, and trust us; you do not want to make it more complex.
Make sure that you choose a packaging type that can be easily sealed. This will protect the products from contamination. The sealed packaging will ensure a mess is not created in case of spillage. In addition, choose packaging that is easy to store in containers or easily arranged into assortments.
Different Types of Packaging for Shipping Frozen Food
Now that we know the characteristic of the ideal frozen food packaging, let’s have a look at the different types and materials available.
#1. Chipboard or Cardboard
The most common type of packaging used for frozen food is chipboard (also known as cardboard). The packaging type is ideal for shipping prepared frozen foods, vegetables, fruits, baked items, etc. Cardboard is heat resistant and will provide insulation to your frozen goods.
Chipboard is food safe, toxin-free, and has been approved by the FDA. The cardboard boxes are very easy to assort and arrange. They can easily be palletized as well. The boxes can be wrapped and sealed using film wrap.
The cardboard can be printed to make packaging appear more attractive to the customers. Most shipping companies use and recommend cardboard for frozen shipping.
#2. Shrink Film
Another very commonly used packaging type is shrink film. Shrink film (also known as shrink wrap) comes in different material types and variations. Polyolefin is the most suitable to be used in packing frozen food. The material is free of toxins, highly temperature-resistant, and has been approved by the FDA.
This packaging type is used to pack meat and frozen fish food. The product is wrapped in the film and then passed through a heat sealer which properly seals this. This saves the product from contamination and moisture buildup throughout shipping and transit. The packaging type is also ideal for sealing cardboard boxes to help keep things tidy and clean.
#3. Wax Coated Cardboard
You might have used wax-coated cardboard when having Chinese food. The cardboard is coated with a thin layer of wax to make it resistant to liquid. This type of packaging is most commonly used for prepared frozen foods such as TV dinners and frozen pizzas, portions of pasta, and baked goods.
Wax-coated cardboard not only provides insulation and protection from heat exposure but also keeps the products free of contamination. One of the biggest advantages of using wax cardboard packaging is that it makes things extremely convenient at the customer’s end. These boxes can also be printed with beautiful, intricate designs to make them look more appealing.
#4. Glass Jars or Boxes
Glass is another very popular packaging material used for shipping frozen food items. This type of packaging is used for delicacies, milk and dairy products, desserts, and ice cream. However, due to it being easy to break and heavy, it is not a practical option for long-distance shipping.
Despite that, glass does provide insulation and protection from fluctuation in external conditions. Moreover, glass containers such as jars, bottles, and boxes can be sealed using shrink film.
#5. Flexible Plastic Bags
The most widely used frozen food packaging type, at number 6, we have flexible plastic bags. Flexible plastic bags are made from food-grade, toxin-free plastic. These bags are most commonly used for prepared frozen foods that need to be microwaved, ice creams, cheese, butter, frozen veggies, etc.
Cardboard boxes can also be wrapped with flexible plastic bags. These bags are heat-sealed to avoid contamination. Like other options, these bags can also be printed with your brand logo, a theme, and useful information. These are biodegradable and eco-friendly options available in these bags as well.
#6. Aluminum Trays or Foils
Aluminum is another ideal option for shipping frozen food items. Aluminum foils or trays ensure hygiene, prevent moisture buildup, do not decompose under high temperatures, are toxin-free, and leakproof. The FDA has also approved the packaging method. In addition to all that, aluminum can be recycled and is not an environmental hazard.
Aluminum trays are commonly used for shipping prepared frozen foods such as portions of pasta, lasagna, meat, baked goods, pizzas, and seafood. When properly filled, the aluminum trays are usually wrapped in shrink film. These trays can also be packed in chipboard boxes or flexible, sealable plastic bags for added protection.
#7. Skin Film
Next up, we have skin film, the most popularly used packaging type for meat and some prepared frozen foods. The product is sealed inside a very thin polythene film in skin film packaging. The polythene film is heat-sealed to keep moisture and contamination out. This kind of packaging is most commonly used for meat and seafood.
The skin film-packed item can also be placed inside a cardboard box for added insulation. Skin film can be recycled, and it is free of toxins. The packaging is food-grade and has also been approved by the FDA. You might have seen skin film-packed goods such as salmon, shrimp, and chicken at grocery stores.
#8. Steel Cans
Stainless steel cans are another packaging type commonly used for frozen foods. This type of packaging is mostly used for semi-solid or liquid products such as stock, purees, vegetable or chicken soups, beans, etc. Such products are mostly frozen when shipping long-distance to avoid degradation of quality.
Stainless steel can be recycled and is free of toxins. In addition, stainless steel cans are temperature resistant, which means they can withstand extremely high or extremely low temperatures. These cans are sealed shut to ensure hygiene. This packaging type is extremely popular, and you might have used many steel canned foods at some point in your life.
#9. High Barrier Thermoforming Film
Last but not least, we have a special kind of packing, high barrier thermoforming film. The high-barrier thermoforming film is made from a special kind of plastic resin that is much thicker than regular polythene film. As a result, it provided better protection and insulation. The packaging has been approved by the FDA and declared food-grade. This type of packaging is most commonly used when shipping frozen food internationally.
Frozen food items are delicate and highly temperature-sensitive. These products require special packaging types and materials to keep their quality, shelf-life, and state preserved during shipping, especially in transit.
In this blog post, we have discussed the different packaging options and materials available for shipping frozen foods. In addition to that, we have also discussed how these types will protect your frozen items during shipping and transit. Go through these types and select the most suitable one based on the type of your product. For convenience, you can also let Cold Chain 3PL handle all your frozen food shipping and packaging for you!