How to Ship Frozen Food?- Here are 5 Simple Steps

As a food business owner, knowing how to safely ship frozen food is critical for your business growth. Shipping frozen food is not just packaging it in an icebox and sending it to the correct address. A lot goes on behind the scenes to make shipping frozen food a success. After all, this is a $230 billion market. To be a part of this industry, you must learn all the nuances of frozen food packaging. 

Also, you need to ensure that your frozen food ingredients are Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved. You also need to learn about the correct freezing and storing techniques. For example, when meat is suddenly cooled, water particles in them crystallize, ruining the piece and other such intricacies.

Now, let’s learn about how to ship frozen food in this blog.

What is the Cost of Shipping Frozen Foods?

Now, there is no fixed price chart to help you decide the cost of shipping frozen foods. The cost also wildly varies depending on different factors like the lifespan of the food, delivery distances, the total weight of your product, and travel duration. 

The price also increases if you want to further lower the temperature of your product. 

Therefore, it can cost anywhere between $30 to $150 per couple of pounds

As you increase the total weight, you might get a small discount on the price per pound. This is because the product weight and packaging account for a major component of your shipping price. 

Consequently, if you standardize your product weight, you can predict the shipping cost more accurately. Supplying your transporter, or in-house transport department, with the weight chart of your products helps them prepare better transport strategies. 

5 Steps to Ship Frozen or Perishable Foods

Knowing how to correctly ship frozen food will help you keep it safe from getting spoilt. Here are the 5 steps you need to follow to safely ship frozen food:

1. Optimize your product packaging

The first lesson on how to ship frozen food is to pack frozen foods correctly. Having fully refrigerated transport trucks is not enough to ensure the safe delivery of frozen foods. 

Shipping frozen foods may seem easy and cost-effective during the initial years of business. 

But the cost can quickly add up as you start scaling your business. Therefore, you need to analyze how you are packaging your food shipments and the types of containers you use to ship frozen food items. 

Search for insulating packaging supplies which also weigh less, like styrofoam, to safely ship frozen foods.

For example, if you are packing smaller products in a large shipping container, you unnecessarily increase your transport expense while decreasing the space in the trucks to carry more packages. Even if you’re using a slightly big shipping box, use packing peanuts or bubble wrap to minimize friction and protect the frozen items.

2. Use thick insulated foam containers

Thick insulated foam containers to ship frozen foods

Refrigerated trucks are the best way to ship frozen food. However, adding this modification to the trucks can be expensive. Hence, the next best option is to exclusively use insulated food containers to ship refrigerated and frozen foods.

  • Remember, the better the quality of insulation, the longer your food will stay frozen. Most novice frozen food business people put smaller products into larger containers and fill them with frozen gel packs. While this does work, it reduces efficiency and wastes space. 
  • As mentioned earlier, it is crucial to optimize your frozen item’s packaging. 

So, start with small containers and then cover them with insulated container paddings like styrofoam, aluminium box lines, thick plastic liner, or air pillows. 

  • Repeat the process until the product is tightly secure. The goal is to prevent cold temperature losses while increasing packaging optimization. 

3. Pack with dry ice 

Dry ice is nothing but carbon dioxide (solid). It has no liquid state, so it goes directly from a solid to a gaseous state. As a result, it can cool things down while sublimating at -109.2° F. Always handle dry ice with special gloves to avoid frostbite injuries. 

When it is sublimating at such low temperatures, it brings down the temperature of the product. This is why dry ice has been used as a cooling agent for more than a decade now. Dry ice companies are also well-known for consistently shipping dry ice to food businesses. So you will not face any problem sourcing it for yourself. 

Dry ice is also used in fog machines to create smoke in concerts. In motorsport, dry ice is used to cool down the engine temperature of the cars. 

4. Always buy and ship in bulk

It is always wise to order in bulk. With the demand for frozen food compounding by 5% every year, there is no shortage of insulating materials in the market. Therefore, you can easily find suppliers with competitive prices for bulk orders. 

Furthermore, having all the materials in your storage units help optimize your warehouse and frozen and cold food packaging processes; here’s how:

  • To begin with, you can increase the productivity of your workforce by enabling them to package and store hundreds of frozen food items at a time. It also makes it easier to retrieve them whenever the need arises. 
  • Next, having some pre-prepared storage reduces the burden whenever you get a request for a large shipment. 
  • Lastly, all these small changes bring down the cost per package and boost your ROI. 

The same is recommended while shipping perishables. Prepare a separate refrigerated storage bay where the products are kept ready just before shipment. This reduces the transfer of frozen products through different temperatures. Test this method a few times before deploying it. 

5. Ensure proper labeling 

In the greater scheme of things, labeling might not seem as important. But the correct labeling mechanisms can make or break your entire business; here’s how:

  • First, labeling makes it convenient to keep track of all the packages. 
  • Next, labeling also helps your customer know about the manufacture and expiry date of the frozen food items. 
  • Finally, you can design labels to mark different products with different priority levels. 
  • Say you mark a packet as a high priority. The delivery person will first ensure the delivery of that specific product before moving on to the next one. Essentially, it lengthens the shelf-life span of highly perishable products as customers receive them earlier. This directly translates into better customer satisfaction and higher ROI. 

Challenges faced by Delivery Businesses for Shipping Frozen Foods 

Shipping frozen food is no easy task. The food can get ruined even if you skip minor details. As they say, one rotten apple can spoil the whole bunch. Similarly, even if one of the products starts melting, it will ruin the entire batch. 

The defrosted food will contaminate everything else in the frozen food shipping containers. You not only incur massive losses but also risk infecting your customers. 

Therefore, you have to spend more money on ensuring that you have the right equipment to facilitate it. In addition, you need an excellent logistics team to make swift deliveries and reduce the chances of things getting wasted. Of course, route planner software, like Upper, comes in handy. 

Here are some more common challenges faced by companies while shipping frozen foods:

1. Hot and humid conditions

Besides extreme temperatures, hot and humid environments are the major threats to the frozen food industry. Coolant materials and dry ice keep the temperature of the shipping container boxes low. To prevent the cool air from escaping, you can use air pillows. Including gel packs will absorb any humidity, and keep the containers dry and the food frozen.

2. Improper packing or using incorrect packing material

Improper packaging leads to leakages that can spoil or contaminate the rest of the products in the delivery trucks. It also causes the temperature to easily escape the perishable packages and starts thawing the food products sooner than expected. If this happens, the whole thing will be a mess when the customer receives the package.

3. Extremely cold temperatures 

Extremely cold temperatures 

Just like heat ruins, frozen food products, extremely cold temperatures do the same. Now, this might be a head-scratcher for some. Here’s the reason- very low temperatures prevent the necessary chemical changes from taking place that can affect the quality of your food. For example, the sudden freezing of the food products also crystallizes the water in the meat and ruins the texture. 

Ship Frozen and Perishable Food Packages with Upper 

Frozen food is time and temperature sensitive, so it can be a challenge to ship it. However, entrepreneurs and business owners have adopted the correct packaging techniques to transfer such sensitive food objects. But with inefficient route planning, even the most robustly packaged frozen foods will spoil. 

Here, the Upper route planning and optimization software steps up to be a game changer. The route planning and scheduling feature of Upper software enables you to make quick time-sensitive deliveries. Below, you will find more about how Upper can help you ship frozen food efficiently: 

1. Multi-stop advanced route planning 

Upper’s route optimization features choose the perfect routes for multiple deliveries. As a result, the driver spends less time on the road and delivers the frozen foods before they start to defrost. Also, making more deliveries each day means minimum transit time, low shipping costs, and high productivity and profits.

2. Set priority deliveries

This feature helps you highlight the order priority of the orders—low, medium, or high. With this information, your delivery drivers can deliver the most urgent items first, ensuring that such time-sensitive deliveries happen safely. 

3. Share ETA with customers

With Upper, you can share delivery status + ETA with your customers via automatic notifications. This will save your delivery drivers from doing back-and-forth with frozen food, which may cause some major food spoilage. 

4. Cut down your route planning time by 95% 

As a frozen food business owner, your priority is handling your core business operations and not spending time manually planning and optimizing routes for shipping service. Such time-draining activities consume your precious time, which you could have spent creating profit-boosting strategies. 

Upper understands this and cuts 95% of your planning time by automating the whole route planning and optimization process for you. 

5. Reduces 40% of your fuel costs

Reduces 40% of your fuel costs

Inefficient route planning means drivers spend more time on the road than making actual deliveries. These are routes they could have avoided. They may also get stuck with contingencies that manual planning cannot predict. That is where Upper comes in. 

Upper helps you automate route planning and optimization, considering delivery constraints, driving preferences, time windows, and more. This helps drivers spend less time on the road, reducing fuel costs by up to 40%. 

Try the 7-day free trial today. 

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FAQs

There’s no particular way to ship frozen food cheaply. For that, you have to compare the prices of different carriers. The cost to ship frozen food will also depend on the quantity and packaging you are shipping the food with.

Yes, you can ship frozen and cold foods by USPS. First, you are responsible for packaging the food with dry ice. The frozen food packages must be spill-proof and tightly sealed to avoid any leakage while in transit. Lastly, you are liable for any damages caused to other packages due to any leakage from your frozen food packet. USPS priority mail express can help you ship frozen food overnight.

Yes, it is possible to ship frozen food using UPS. However, the sender is responsible for packaging the frozen food to prevent thawing or any leakages.

The best way to transfer frozen food is using dry ice packaging. Ensure that you are using insulating sturdy outer containers like styrofoam boxes. Also, use watertight liners to cover the inside of the shipping boxes.

Conclusion

The ultimate goal is to deliver fresh food that is free of contamination. Not following the guidelines can risk the safety of your time- and temperature-sensitive frozen foods. This will not only spoil the food but also put your business’ reputation at stake. Follow the steps mentioned above to create a package capable of maintaining low temperatures and shipping frozen food safely. 

However, just proper packaging isn’t enough to ensure that your frozen food reaches your customers safely. You must also leverage the right tools to help your delivery drivers reach your customers on time. Adding a route planner like Upper to mix will address this and enhance the delivery experience for your customers. Try the 7-day free trial today. 

Author Bio
Rakesh Patel
Rakesh Patel

Rakesh Patel is the founder and CEO of Upper Route Planner. A subject matter expert in building simple solutions for day-to-day problems, Rakesh has been involved in technology for 30+ years. Looking to help delivery businesses eliminate on-field delivery challenges, Rakesh started Upper Route Planner with the ultimate goal of simplistic operations in mind.

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