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International Forwarding Association Blog » International freight forwarding » Types of Packagings to Ship Perishable Goods

Types of Packagings to Ship Perishable Goods

Plenty can go wrong when shipping perishables and trying to protect them against spoilage, staleness, humidity, and extreme temperatures.

There are different packagings and packs to use when transporting perishable items, including cold packs, insulated food shippers, solid plastics, and foam brick.

 Types of Packaging

Cold packs are a safe and simple solution to ship perishables so that they stay cold during transit. They keep constant temperatures inside containers and boxes of pharmaceutical, beverage, and food products. When packing, it is a good idea to test the number and size of packs required. A larger quantity and large-sized packs help maintain cold temperatures over a longer period. Insulated food shippers are also used and include two components, an exterior cardboard box and an interior foam box. Foam with a thicker wall helps better protect perishables while in transit. Usually, 1 ½” foam is used when shipping 1 – 5 days while ¾” foam is more suitable for overnight shipments.

Freezer Packs

Freight forwarders also use different types of freezer packs such as solid plastics, foam brick, gel, and pliable. Solid plastics are ideal for plastic, foam, and soft-sided insulated coolers. They have a hard and durable structure and are re-freezable which makes them suitable for multiple uses. Solid plastics can be recycled as well.

Foam brick is another variety that can be used with different insulated coolers, including plastic and foam. What is more, it retains shape during thawing and freezing. Foam brick contains an aqueous solution that is not only quick to freeze but maintains cold over a longer period. It comes with a non-caustic and non-toxic uniform structure and recyclable, durable polyethylene wrappers. In general, brick foam is suitable for rectangular and square containers.

Gel packs are also used for irregular shapes and around containers and are typically used by the medical and pharmaceutical sector. This is an affordable solution and an alternative to wet ice, with a choice of different sizes. Gel packs are often used to transport lab specimen and other perishables as to prevent spills and leaks that can cause contamination.

Pliable packs are used for refrigeration transport as well and are flexible even when frozen. They are re-freezable, fold and bend to fit irregular shapes, and are ideal for pan carriers and insulated shippers.

It should be noted that plastic packaging is made from different materials. They vary with regard to barrier properties, shelf life, use, temperature range, and appearance. Some materials are also suitable for hot filling.

Dry Ice

Frozen carbon dioxide or dry ice is an alternative to electrical refrigeration and can be found in butcher shops and grocery stores. When shipping perishable food items, direct contact with products should be avoided.

Dry ice is usually used for perishable frozen food which is placed inside foam boxes. The boxes are fitted into corrugated cardboard boxes for safe shipping. Perishable fresh and non-perishable dried products do not require dry ice.