How to ship food and perishables.

Shipping food and perishables comes with its own set of requirements to ensure they arrive at their destination fresh. Let Freightquote by C.H. Robinson help you get a firm grasp on the basics to understand how to take care of this process efficiently.

  • Trailer temperature. One of the biggest factors affecting perishable shipping is the temperature of the trailer. Since temperature-controlled shipping can include both perishable and dry goods, it’s important to know what you need. Keep in mind, the more influence temperature has on an item’s stability, the greater impact it will have on the overall shipping cost. 
  • Delivery windows. Perishable freight shipping comes with peak times and tight delivery windows. Make sure you know the speed and stability requirements for your goods to prevent spoilage and ensure they arrive on time.
  • Packaging. Insulation is always recommended to reduce the transfer of heat through packing container walls. Additionally, gel coolants and dry ice can be ideal for some cool temperature-sensitive items.

Understanding each of these pieces

can be complicated but once you have them nailed down, you’re ready to ship. As with any process, consider working with a freight service provider. An expert can come in handy when shipping these types of goods since there may be delays or other bumps in the road that need an extra set of eyes.

Common questions when shipping food and perishables.

What type of trailer should I be using?

If you are shipping canned or dry goods, you will most likely end up using a dry van trailer. These types of trailers are great for non-perishable foods since they are affordable and protect freight from the elements. 

If you’re shipping perishables, you’ll want to move forward with refrigerated trucking. Refrigerated trailers allow you to control the temperature, which is ideal for maintaining the integrity of your freight.

How do I package 

food for shipping?

This will once again depend on what type of food you’re dealing with. If you are shipping non-perishable food that is canned or boxed, package it in crates that can be easily stacked in the trailer. 

For those shipping perishable foods that could easily become compromised, you will have to find the most suitable form of packaging and insulation. This may mean plastic containers or insulated boxes. The goal is to select the packaging that will protect your freight and keep it at the desired temperature.

A few other options

used to ship perishables include:

  • Styrofoam boxes or sheets: Styrofoam is excellent for insulating perishables. Boxes or sheets come in varying amounts of thickness, depending on how much you are willing to spend.
  • Insulated liners: Liners can come in a bubble wrap-like texture or air-filled. Both types of liners offer the ability to securely wrap perishables in them to prevent damage and keep out the heat. 
  • Insulated pads: Insulated pads can be placed in boxes to keep your food shipment fresh and safe.
  • Dry ice: Dry ice can be used with other insulation methods for maximum freshness; however, dry ice is considered a hazardous material and your shipment would need to be labeled as such.
  • Ice packs: Ice packs are an affordable option for keeping perishables cool. While some are reusable, one-time use ice packs are typically the most cost-effective.


Will my pickup and 

and drop-off windows be affected?

When it comes to shipping food and perishables, you can expect to experience longer loading and unloading times at the dock due to the fragile nature of the shipment. However, the overall process is on a tighter time constraint when you’re dealing with perishable freight. Plan ahead for these longer wait times at the dock and account for possible delays, ensuring you don’t end up with spoiled goods.

What happens if I get delayed?

Traffic, miscommunication at the dock and other factors have no discretion. Delays can and will happen on occasion. If you are shipping food with a refrigerated truck, a delay will have few repercussions. If your delay is due to a breakdown, for example, this has to be communicated immediately, since breakdowns can easily lead to compromised goods.

What types of food are the most time-sensitive?

The most perishable types of food are typically produce and fresh meat. Shipping these types of food requires a strict, timed-out course of action to get your shipment from point A to point B. Start shipping today, and get proactive alerts along the way so you know whether or not your freight will arrive at its final destination on time.


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