Shipping perishable can be a challenge for consumers as well as small business owners. At Eagles Air & Sea, we have been helping customers manage the transport of their frozen and perishable cargoes since 1990. During that time, we have accumulated several key things to consider when making plans to ship produce or other types of frozen foods.
Basically, there are 3 major components that have to be evaluated and managed when shipping perishable foods – time, temperature, and packaging.
Let’s take a closer look at these three issues:
- Time – When you come to us with a requirement considering a perishable or frozen cargo we will first understand what are the time constraints involved. How far is the shipment going? How long can it afford to remain in transit? Once questions like these are answered we can decide on the best transport strategy for your specific needs. Considerations such as route schedules and the carrier’s history of on time delivery need to be evaluated. With proper scheduling, it is possible to get fragile and time sensitive cargo shipped from one side of the world to another in under 24 hours in some cases.
- Temperature – If you are shipping large quantities of frozen goods, such as meat products, the best solution may be with an ocean carrier that has onboard refrigeration capability. Many of today’s modern container vessels have on board refrigeration that allows the container to be “plugged in” to the ship’s refrigeration system so as to keep the contents frozen or at a specific temperature for the entire trip. This option is available in either FCL (Full container Load) or LTL (Less than a full container) in either 40 foot or 20 foot insulated containers.
- Packaging – Perhaps the most important consideration when shipping perishable or frozen goods is the packaging. If refrigeration isn’t a requirement, then you only need to make sure the container is well constructed and the internal construction is designed to protect whatever you are sending. Wrapping delicate items such as flowers is a good practice. If your items need to remain cold, then you will need to use an insulated shipping container and pack the items with gel or ice packs. We don’t recommend using dry ice unless you are shipping frozen foods as there are restrictions with the shipping of dry ice, especially when shipping internationally.
Once you have identified the timing, temperature and packaging requirements of your cargo you will want to consult with an experienced freight forwarder to understand customs and other restrictions that may impact your shipment. This is where it is so important to work with a freight forwarder that is experienced and trustworthy.
If you have questions or concerns about shipping perishable or frozen goods internationally, the professionals at Eagles Air & Sea are happy to consult with you on a no obligation basis to help you find the best way to get your perishable cargo to its destination safely, economically and in good condition.
Frequent Asked Questions
How much insulation is required?
A good rule of thumb is to use enough insulation to ensure your cargo stays fresh/frozen for 12 hours more than the time commitment provided by the shipper.
Do I have to use dry ice?
Dry ice or cold gel packs are the preferred method for keeping cargo cold during shipment. If you must use regular ice, be sure that the entire package is enclosed in a water tight container.
Are there special regulations for shipping perishables?
International Air Transport Association’s (IATA) perishable cargo rules are the primary consideration when shipping via air. Ocean going freight that is perishable is not typically handled in smaller volumes of individual containers, but rather as 40 ft refrigerated containers set to a specific temperature while on board.