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How to Ship Food & Other Perishable Items

Ship Food and Other Perishable Items with InsulTote Whether shipping food or perishable across town or across country, with the right materials and planning, you can send them safely. Foods like chocolate, cheese and fruit need to maintain a certain temperature in order to keep their quality and arrive in pristine condition.

The temperature at the point of delivery on the day of delivery is what you need to keep in mind. If that temperature will be 80 degrees F (or warmer), use cold packs or dry ice and ship in an expedited manner.

Start with placing packing material around the container so it isn’t subject to shocks. InsulTote bubble wrap insulation box liners are designed to protect your food from normal vibration and bouncing during transit as well as shielding the product from heat or cold.

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Chocolate melts at 100°F or 36°C, and it softens at 80°F or 26°C. Chocolate can be melted and re-melted hundreds of times without it affecting the taste. But softening will change the shape! If you do not want any softening, use dry ice and an insulated container liner.

How to Ship Foods, Step-by-Step:
  1. Prepare confections, chocolate or cheese by refrigerating before shipping.
  2. Wrap it in parchment paper or similar material. Chocolate must also be put into a sealed container to protect it from moisture.
  3. Choose a box two to three times the size of the food being shipped for additional protection from mishandling and temperature changes.
  4. Protect the food with an InsulTote insulated bubble wrap box liner; this product acts as a heat deflector and insulator while keep your product snug. InsulTote offers many sizes of box liners -- no minimum order required.
  5. Fill the box with additional packing material such as packing peanuts to stabilize the box.
  6. Add cold packs. Expected delivery time and heat experience during transit will dictate the size and number of packs. A small box (9 x 6.5 x 4) may need just one 2-4 oz. cold pack. Put the cold pack in a sealable plastic bag or wrap it in newspaper to help insure it doesn’t sweat on your package.
  7. Tape the box around all seams so that the cold air doesn’t get out and the hot air doesn’t get in.
  8. Address the box and write “Keep Refrigerated” on the box so the recipient knows to put the contents into the fridge as soon as they get it.
  9. Ship the package overnight, preferably at the beginning of the week to lessen the chance that your package will sit on a loading dock over the weekend. Take into consideration the climate conditions of the destination. If you are shipping foods, especially chocolate, someplace warm, speed is of the essence. If the package is going to a cool area, the urgency is not as great.

Some customers may not want to pay a premium for overnight shipping; if you offer 2-3 day shipping, be sensitive to the weather.


Shipping grapefruits in the middle of summer or apricots in the dead of winter can be successful. Follow these steps to ensure your products reach their destination in perfect condition:

How to Ship Fruits & Vegetables:
  1. Select fruits that are sturdy enough to endure shipping. Those with hard skins (apples, pears, citrus, apricots, and cherries) are good travelers. Softer fruits (plums and peaches) will only arrive safely with extra packaging and careful handling. Avoid berries and other fragile fruits.
  2. Choose perfect fruit (no bruises, brown spots or damage) that is slightly under-ripe.
  3. Determine the best shipping box. Wooden crates are preferred for fragile fruit but corrugated boxes are fine if enough padding is used. Choose a box large enough to include the padding needed to protect the food from mishandling and temperature changes.
  4. Prepare the box by lining it with an InsulTote insulated bubble wrap box liner; this product acts as a heat deflector and insulator (InsulTote offers many sizes of box liners with no minimum order required).
  5. Wrap each fruit individually in tissue or brown packaging paper and place it in a single layer on top of the prepared insulated bubble wrap. Add packing peanuts to fill in any gaps. Then place a box liner sheet on top of the fruit.
  6. Continue layering fruit and InsulTote box liners until the box is completely full. More padding decreases the chance that your product will be damaged in transit.
  7. Ship the box overnight if possible. Depending on the weather, sturdy fruits will stand up to 2 - 3 day shipping. Plan to ship early in the week to avoid your package waiting in transit over the weekend.

Note: Know the laws regarding interstate shipments and prohibited fruits. Contact the Department of Agriculture in the state(s) where you plan to ship. Look online for the specific state; most websites will also list a help line. Your local post office is a source of information as well. Ignore this step and risk paying large fines for shipping prohibited produce, plants and other items!


Cut flower bouquets, bare-root plants and herbs may be shipped successfully; it's imperative to control the shipping temperature as well as minimizing the chance of breakage. Follow the steps outlined below.

How to Ship Cut Flowers:

  1. Plan to pack in the morning and ship the same day.
  2. Select durable flowers with fairly tight buds and foliage that won’t easily bruise or break.
  3. Strip the foliage as appropriate and give each stem a fresh cut.
  4. Hydrate by placing flowers and foliage in clean buckets with clean water for a few hours. If shipping bunches of the same variety, bunch them together and tie the stems with twine.
  5. Wrap damp paper towels (or other substrate that will keep the flowers hydrated) around the cut ends.
  6. Place the wrapped ends in a plastic bag and loosely fold the bag around the stems to keep the towels secure.
  7. Put the prepared flowers into an InsulTote pouch; this foil bubble cushion will help protect the flowers from breakage as well as maintain a constant temperature for more than 24 hours (we recommend freezing the pouches overnight before using).
  8. Choose a box large enough to accommodate the extra packaging needed to cushion and protect the flowers.
  9. Pad the box with InsulTote box liners and place the wrapped flowers so they are protected on all sides, top and bottom.
  10. Add packing peanuts or other filler to completely stuff the box.
  11. Ship the same day the flowers were packed and in the most expedient manner; overnight if possible. Plan to ship early in the week to avoid your package being stranded in transit over the weekend.
  12. Alert the recipient that the shipment is on its way.

Know the laws regarding interstate shipments. Contact the Department of Agriculture in the state(s) where you plan to ship. Look online for the specific state; most websites will also list a help line. Your local post office is a source of information as well. Ignore this step and risk paying large fines for shipping prohibited produce, plants and other items!

How to Ship Fresh Herbs:

  1. Plan to pick and pack in the morning and ship the same day.
  2. Wrap damp paper towels (or other substrate that will keep the herbs hydrated) around the cut ends.
  3. Place the wrapped ends in a plastic bag and loosely fold the bag around the stems to keep the towels secure.
  4. Put the prepared herbs into an InsulTote pouch; this foil bubble cushion will help protect the herbss from breakage as well as maintain a constant temperature for more than 24 hours (we recommend freezing the pouches overnight before using).
  5. Choose a box large enough to accommodate the extra packaging needed to cushion and protect the herbs.
  6. Pad the box with InsulTote liners and place the wrapped herbs so they are protected on all sides, top and bottom.
  7. Add packing peanuts or other filler to completely stuff the box.
  8. Ship the same day the herbs were packed and in the most expedient manner; overnight if possible.
  9. Alert the recipient that the shipment is on its way.

Know the laws regarding interstate shipments. Contact the Department of Agriculture in the state(s) where you plan to ship. Look online for the specific state; most websites will also list a help line. Your local post office is a source of information as well. Ignore this step and risk paying large fines for shipping prohibited produce, plants and other items!

How to Ship Bare-root Plants:

  1. Plan to pack in the morning and ship the same day.
  2. Hydrate by placing bare-root plants in clean buckets with clean water for a few hours.
  3. Wrap damp paper towels (or other substrate that will keep the plants hydrated) around the roots.
  4. Place the entire plant in a waterproof bag and loosely fold the bag around the plant to keep the towels secure.
  5. Choose a box large enough to accommodate the extra packaging needed to cushion and protect the plants.
  6. Pad the box with InsulTote liners and place the wrapped plants so they are protected on all sides, top and bottom.
  7. Add packing peanuts or other filler to completely stuff the box.
  8. Ship the same day the plants were packed and in the most expedient manner; overnight if possible or 2-3 day shipping if the variety of plant being shipped is sturdy.
  9. Alert the recipient that the shipment is on its way.

Know the laws regarding interstate shipments. Contact the Department of Agriculture in the state(s) where you plan to ship. Look online for the specific state; most websites will also list a help line. Your local post office is a source of information as well. Ignore this step and risk paying large fines for shipping prohibited produce, plants and other items!

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Questions? Send us an email, or you can call us at 800-776-3645 Monday thru Friday between 8 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. CST for immediate assistance.

How To Ship Food

Perishables | Fruits & Veggies | Chocolate & Confections | Seafood | Cheese | Flowers | Fresh Herbs | Wine

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"We have been pleased with InsulTote's pallet cover and have used it to successfully protect product shipping throughout the winter. It shipped FedEx LTL to Minnesota and at one point the external temperature was -7F. Our data logger from a pallet protected by your thermal wrap and our black plastic shrink wrap shows a remarkable loss of ambient temperature in transit of only 14°."

Phil Fallis
Harvard Drug Group

"We love the InsulTote boxes. They keep our cheese cold as well as or better than the ¾-inch Styrofoam boxes we used before."

Robert Stetson, Proprietor
Westfield Farm

"Innovative Energy has been an outstanding company to work with. They have very competitive prices, a great turn-around for production and delivery as well as a very friendly and knowledgeable staff on hand to answer any of our questions."

Andy Schreck Operations Supervisor, McKesson Corp.

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