With the nearly 400 billion pounds of meat produced a year, much much of it is shipped across cities, states, and even to other countries. During the winter, shipping perishable meats, vegetables, and medication can be handled a little more loosely. When things start to heat up in the summer, shipping perishables can be a lot trickier.
Time is of the essence when you’re shipping perishable food or medicine. Even an hour can change the makeup of the chemical compounds or allow bacteria to grow. This can cause you to lose product, lose profits, or even put your customers’ health in danger.
To avoid problems with customers or inventory issues, you need to come up with a strong system for shipping perishables during the summer. Follow these 8 tips to ensure you get products to customers safely, all year long.
1. Close The Production Gap
One of the best ways to ensure that your products are as fresh and safe as they can be when they reach customers is to be close to where they’re produced. Rather than bringing in products from other cities or states, see what’s being produced closes to where you’re located.
Being close to where you’re shipping from means there’s less time for your inventory to sit in the sun when shipping perishables.
Even if you can’t find a local producer, see if there’s one that’s closer to your shipping company. If the supplier is willing to do the packing and set up a pickup for your shipping company, take yourself out of the loop for the good of your products.
If it would take longer to get to your warehouse, where you add a tag or a sticker, see if the producer could do this from their facility.
2. Double Check Your Location
The last thing you want is for your products to be delivered to the wrong location. They could sit on the dock of another company for hours before anyone realizes they’re in the wrong spot. It could take another few hours for your shipper to pick them up and bring them to the right location.
Before you ship anything perishable, you need to ensure that you have a way to double check that your receiver will be available and ready for the delivery.
3. Ice Pack Shipping
One of the classic methods for shipping things across long distances is to use ice packs. By surrounding your items with ice or ice packs, you can maintain a cool temperature around your inventory during transit.
Because ice packs are both single-use and expensive, it can raise the cost of production and shipping. Include space for the dimension of ice packs in your packaging and shipping calculations.
Ice pack shipping is tried and true, but make sure it doesn’t cut into your overall profit margins.
4. Ship It Fast
The best way to go about shipping perishables is to cut down on the amount of time they’re in transit. See what the options are for your shipping company. If you’ll be doing regular shipments of a lot of inventory to a single location, they could work out a deal with you.
While it costs less to ship things slowly, it’s not usually an option when shipping your perishables during the summer. Choose the fastest option to cut down on time when your inventory could spoil.
If you need to choose an expensive shipping method, make sure you’re cutting costs wherever possible.
5. Timing Is Everything
Shipping at the end of the week could throw everything off. Your product could end up sitting around on Sunday if you don’t choose the right carrier.
Choose a carrier that is willing to deliver on weekends to ensure that you don’t lose time when shipping perishables in the summer.
Your best bet is to get to know what your preferred carrier’s pickup schedule is. If you can shape your production and shipment schedule around their pickups, you’ll keep perishables safe and fresh.
Ask which days are better for them. Often the beginning and middle of the week are good days to ship, as most companies rush most of their orders at the end of the week.
6. Be Creative With Packing
Shipping something like chocolate during the summer can be tricky. One trick is to use shipping boxes that have plastic insulation and frozen gel packs. This can keep things cold and leave little space for air to get in or out.
If you’re shipping a bunch of things together, ask that your coldest items are packed together in the middle of the truck.
Placed next to each other, they’ll keep each other cool. They’ll also be protected from warm air by being surrounded by the other things being delivered.
7. Take Precaution With Medicine
Refrigerated medicine needs to be handled with extra care. Be in touch with the production company so that you know the exact temperature it needs to be kept at. Contact your shipping company to see if they’ve got thermometers inside the truck that can be read without opening the door.
This way they can make sure to protect medication without upsetting the temperature.
8. Make Sure Warehouse Can Handle It
If your product can’t be delivered for any reason, you need to make sure that there’s a warehouse of receiver that can accommodate the delivery. They need to have a refrigerator that can be kept at the temperature that your products demand.
If you don’t have a backup receiving warehouse close to the delivery location, you could be paying high prices for the shipping company to keep it in their trucks.
Shipping Perishables Takes Some Finesse
You need to have a good understanding of your entire shipment process from start to finish when dealing with perishables. You need to even keep an eye on the weather during the summer. Shipping during the hottest Sunday of the summer just might not be worth the trouble.
If you suspect your current courier company isn’t cutting it when it comes to shipping perishables, check out our guide of 5 signs it’s time to find a new partner.