How to Ship Perishable Items

Posted by Bob Janik on Aug 19, 2019 3:42:01 PM

how to ship perishable items

As a business, you do not have the luxury of making big mistakes when it comes to shipping perishable items. 

Fortunately, there are plenty of other companies that have traveled this path before you, so you can definitely find quality resources to help you avoid shipping mishaps. 

With the right preparation, you can determine how to ship your perishable goods to your customers so that they arrive fresh to their door.

Shipping Perishable Foods — A Guide for Your Business

There are three main factors to consider when shipping perishable goods—the packaging, the cooling method and the shipping option.

1. Choose the right packaging.

There are quite a few packaging options available for keeping items cool or frozen. They include:

    • Insulated Shipping Kits —Maintains the insulation and integrity of your products with a recyclable foam container.
    • Styrofoam Sheets—These sheets are available in standard sizes and can also be made custom to fit particular boxes. They are on the more affordable end of the pricing spectrum, but they are not the best choice for insulation because of the gaps where sheets meet.
    • Styrofoam Boxes—Most Styrofoam boxes come with cardboard exteriors. You can get boxes in a wide variety of sizes and thicknesses. The thicker the box, the better it will insulate. But thicker boxes cost more.
    • Bubble Wrap Insulation—The shiny, reflective surface combines with the insulation of the air pockets in the bubbles to provide effective insulation. You can wrap this insulation around products.
    • Air-Filled Insulation—Air works well as an insulator and is a cheap option. You can purchase liners that you then fill with a pump.

2. Pick the right cooling method.

There are two main options for keeping perishable items cool:

    • Ice Packs—Gel ice packs are the go-to choice for refrigerated items because they are relatively inexpensive and effective. Single-use ice packs are the least expensive option and what most businesses choose.
    • Dry Ice—Dry ice is the best choice for keeping items frozen. There are strict rules about the use of dry ice in shipping, like those listed on the UPS site.

3. Choose the right shipping option.

UPS recommends choosing the fastest shipping option available for perishable goods and to ship early in the week to avoid weekend delays. However, for many businesses, avoiding spoilage needs to be balanced with economy. You need to get it there fast enough, but only fast enough.

There is always give and take. With better insulation and more ice packs or dry ice, your package can travel longer. But packaging costs money and shipping heavier ice packs is more expensive. 

Fortunately, while determining the right combination of packaging, cooling solutions and shipping is not always straightforward, it can be done. 

Craft Your Perfect Perishable Shipping Solution

There is no one size fits all solution, but it is possible to create a system that best serves your business and your customers with a little time and experimentation.

Communicate with your packaging partner and shipping company to find the sweet spot for your perishable shipping needs.