Did you know that America is the largest food exporter in the world? Our American farms are doing something right, as the products grown in our nation are feeding the masses globally.
And very little of that food travels abroad by air. The majority of food transportation takes place by boat, thanks to insulated steel shipping containers.
And while this has been the traditional shipping method for food in recent decades, it’s now the only option anymore. Wondering how to ship food domestically, to businesses like restaurants and catering facilities?
You can do so affordably, thanks to advances in shipping practices. You can even ship food to residential addresses thanks to modern packaging innovations.
Keep reading to learn vegetables, meat, and other types of food across the country today.
How to Ship Food to Restaurants
Most restaurants order food from large, local suppliers. When ordered, it doesn’t go through the traditional parcel service, as that would cost way too much.
Rather, food suppliers will deliver to restaurants on large semi trucks, or trucks carrying Tuff shipping containers. The truck is generally making multiple deliveries in the same area.
The trucks are at the very least insulated. But more than likely, they are actively refrigerated, keeping the food as safe and fresh as possible.
Pallets or crates of food will be grouped together for each restaurant on the delivery route. Upon arrival at the restaurant, the delivery driver will use a hand truck to carry all of the crates into the restaurant.
If delivering after hours, the driver can typically drop the food off inside a walk-in cooler, to keep it fresh until restaurant staff arrives.
In many instances, however, restaurants will need to purchase specialty ingredients that might not be available by large-scale food suppliers. In this case, the items will likely be shipped through the mail.
To ship food, you’ll need insulating packaging materials as well as a cooling method, like dry ice or gel packs.
Insulation can be styrofoam boxes inside your shipping box, insulated liners to wrap individual items, air-filled insulation, which can save money, or insulation pads.
If the items need to stay as cold as possible, you can add dry ice, which won’t get wet as it melts, or gel packs, which do get wet after they melt.
Then, ship the products via a two-day courier, which usually means UPS or FedEx.
How to Ship Food for Caterers
Are you a catering company wondering how to ship food to a venue for a wedding or party? If so, you’ll be doing all of your cooking in your own commercial cooking facility, since very few venues have commercial kitchens available for use.
The key is immediately transferring cooked food to larger sheet pans. Cover the pans with foil or with lids designed for your pans. Keep them in a warming oven until you are ready to start packing the delivery vehicle.
Then, transfer them to portable insulated boxes. Solid containers are much more reliable than soft bags. There are boxes of various sizes designed to hold multiple sheet pans.
They can keep food hot for around four hours without the need to apply external heat. You just need to secure them in your delivery vehicle to ensure they don’t tip over.
Upon arrival, use a cart that keeps the boxes level with the ground to prevent any spillage.
How to Ship Food to Consumers
There are countless meal prep delivery services available these days. The likes of Hello Fresh, Blue Apron, and Freshly make it simple to cook delicious, healthy meals at home.
The meal prep company sources all of the ingredients, and doses them out in the exact quantities you need in order to follow the recipe. They send a week’s worth of meals in one box, through the mail, right to your door.
But how do they do it? Want to know how to ship meat and other ingredients in the mail?
First off, it’s ideal if the food is frozen. Frozen food can remain frozen, or at least cold, for a couple of days if well insulated. That means you can ship food via a two-day courier service, and it can arrive on your customers’ doorstep still frozen and safe to use.
To do this, you need to invest in the right packaging materials. Your packages will need to be insulated to help your frozen food remain cold in the parcel.
You can do this by lining the inside of the box with soft, eco-friendly insulation. You’ll probably want an insulation layer at least one inch thick. In the center of the insulation, you can then place a slightly smaller box, where you’ll store the food.
If insulated well enough, you wouldn’t need to add any dry ice or gel packs. But if your insulation is minimal, you may want to include something to keep it cold.
Alternatively, you can pack a polystyrene container inside the cardboard shipping box, which will insulate well.
How to Deliver Prepared Meals Locally
You don’t always have to put food in the mail to deliver it to your customers. Local delivery is an option too, either for cold meal prep services or hot, freshly prepared food.
The simple approach is to get heat-keeping bags, similar to the ones pizza delivery drivers use. If the food will only be traveling for 20 minutes or less before reaching the customer, these bags do okay.
But since you probably aren’t delivering pizzas, you need bags capable of handling your food containers. You can find insulated delivery bags in many shapes and sizes.
You can also use solid insulated containers that can fit multiple large pans of food. These work well to keep food at a safe, hot temperature for a few hours at a time.
Feeding the World
Now that you know how to ship food, the world is your oyster. Food can travel anywhere and everywhere, and your business won’t be limited to local service.
With the right packaging materials and shipping strategies, you can ship to all corners of the country, and even the world if need be.
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