The Best Ways to Ship Frozen and Perishable Food

Posted On 8th March 2019

The best ways to ship frozen foodA number of customers often come to us wondering how to ship perishable food and frozen items.

Obviously, shipping these items comes with a number of challenges. Mainly, you want to make sure the items are still fresh when they are delivered.

So, just how do you do that?

We’ve put together a comprehensive guide that will explain the best way to ship perishable food and how to ship something frozen, along with a number of tips to ensure you do it successfully and safely.

How to ship perishable food

First, we’re going to cover how to ship perishables. Keep in mind, when you send perishables through the mail you do so at your own risk. There is always the chance of the items soiling during transport if they’re not packed properly, so keep that in mind.

Before mailing any perishable items, make sure that what you’re sending has enough shelf life to make it to your desired destination. This is especially true when sending items internationally.

Each country has rules and regulations around what can be sent through the mail, so make sure to check those before shipping any perishable items. For example, fresh produce and meats can’t be mailed internationally.

Most importantly, use common sense. If you think the item you’re sending might spoil don’t risk it.

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How to pack perishable food before shipping

How to pack perishable food before shippingWhen thinking about how to ship perishable food, the first thing to consider is packaging.

If your food doesn’t need to be refrigerated then packing it will be similar to any other item. Make sure you use a sturdy box and provide proper internal packing if you’re shipping anything breakable. Consider wrapping your perishable food in plastic wrap or foil to help maintain its freshness.

If you’re wondering how to ship refrigerated items, here’s what you need to do:

  1. First, you’ll need to use something insulated to reduce heat transfer and maximize the amount of time your perishable food will remain cold. You can accomplish this by simply using a styrofoam box. Other options include styrofoam cut sheets, insulated liners, air-filled insulated liners, and insulated pads.
  2. Once you’ve got the proper amount of insulation, you’ll need to line the box with gel or ice packs. Make sure to use a sufficient amount so the box stays cool for the entire trip.
  3. Finally, once the box is sealed, make sure it’s labeled “Perishable Food - Keep Refrigerated.”

Is dry ice needed to ship perishables?

When people ask us how to ship perishable food, they often bring up dry ice. There’s a common misconception that any time you’re shipping perishables you’ll need to use dry ice. This just isn’t true.

If your items only to remain refrigerated, gel or ice packs will be more than adequate. This is good to know, as there are a number of restrictions around shipping dry ice.

The only time you need to use dry ice when sending perishables through the mail is when you’re shipping frozen food, which we’ll cover below.

How to send perishable food through the mail

Once your perishable food is packaged properly, sending it through the mail is relatively the same as shipping any other item.

You’ll need to choose a shipping partner you trust, and whose rates fit within your budget. There is no guaranteed cheapest way to ship perishables. The cost will depend on what you’re shipping, who you’re shipping with, and where you’re sending it. So, make sure to do your homework and find a partner that best suits your needs.

The most important part of shipping perishable food is ensuring it will arrive before it spoils. You may be about to ask how to ship perishables overnight, but while some items will need to arrive within a day, others might be able to keep for two days or more.

Do your research to find out exactly how fast your food needs to arrive, as two-day shipping is much cheaper than overnight shipping.

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How to ship frozen food

If you’re wondering how to ship frozen food, it’s a lot like shipping refrigerated food. However, there are a few key differences that you need to be aware of.

Can you ship frozen food?

When people ask how to ship frozen food, they often start by wondering if you even can ship frozen food. The answer is you can ship frozen food to another state, but not internationally.

This is because in order to keep items frozen during shipping you need to use dry ice, which isn’t allowed to be shipped internationally. International shipments take additional time as well, so it’s unlikely you’d be able to keep your items frozen long enough anyway.

How to Pack Cold Food Before Shipping

Like refrigerated food, when shipping frozen food you’ll need to use insulation to keep your items cold for as long as possible. We recommend using a styrofoam box, or buying a cold shipping box from a shipping store.

The best way to ship frozen food is to make sure the items are thoroughly frozen before placing them in the box. Keep them in the freezer and completely frozen until the last possible moment before shipping them.

This will maximize the amount of time they’ll stay frozen during transport.

How to ship frozen food with dry ice

How to ship frozen food with dry iceIn order to keep your items frozen for as long as possible, you’ll need to use dry ice. This an extremely effective way to ship frozen food, but you need to make sure you handle it and package it properly.

Dry ice is made from frozen carbon dioxide and is -109.3 degrees F. This makes it a hazardous shipping material, as there is the possibility it will explode if not packaged properly.

First, always wear thick gloves or oven mitts when handling dry ice. Next, write down how many pounds of dry ice you’re using, as you will need to give this information to the shipping carrier.

Wrap the dry ice in newspaper, then line the box with the ice. For the best results, place your frozen food in between the blocks of dry ice.

How much does it cost to ship cold food

As mentioned earlier, when it comes to how to ship frozen food cheaply, it depends on a number of factors. The way to get the best price is to get quotes from several different carriers and find the lowest price available.

That being said, for a standard 2-3 pound package, you can expect a cost anywhere from $30-$150, depending on what you’re shipping, your destination, and how soon you need it to arrive.

A few tips for successfully shipping refrigerated items

Before we wrap up the article, here are a few tips to consider when shipping refrigerated and frozen foods.

First, if you’re using a styrofoam or cold box, choose one with the thickest walls possible. The thicker the walls the more insulation there will be, which means your food will stay cold longer. Ideally, the walls should be at least 1.5 inches thick.

When placing your perishable food in your box ensure it’s already cooled, otherwise condensation will start to form inside.

You’ll also want to make sure the items are properly wrapped in a liner bag before putting them in the box for shipping.

Finally, let the recipient know ahead of time when and where they can pick up their package. That way, they can receive at soon as possible which will decrease the chance of anything spoiling.


There are a few things you need to consider when thinking about how to ship perishable food and frozen items. However, in the whole scheme of things, it’s not that different from mailing regular items.

If you use the right packaging, ensure your items stay cold, and make sure the package arrives on time, you should have no trouble shipping perishable food without it spoiling.

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