How to Ship Fresh Produce
The Ultimate Guide
The best way to ship fresh produce
Many people ask us how to ship fresh produce like wild leeks, tubers, leafy greens and much much more. Let’s face it, store-bought produce is nice to quickly grab and go home with, but the lack of variety and traceability is something that can make just about anyone squeamish.
Shipping fresh produce, straight from the growing space to the consumer, is the freshest and fastest way to get produce if it isn’t immediately available to you. It’s also an excellent way to reach customers from all around the United States, not just locally around you, and can greatly increase your market reach.
It has a reputation of being tedious, time consuming and expensive, so a majority of sellers are quick to abandon it altogether. We hope that this article alleviates some of the misconceptions and questions surrounding shipping gourmet fresh produce.
Keep reading to learn how to ship fresh produce quickly and easily from Forest to Table.
Step 1: Prep your box
A majority of produce can be shipped using a normal cardboard box that will fit the produce snug. Make sure the box that you use is large enough to fit the entirety of the produce, but small enough so that the contents don’t shift too much during transit.
Step 2: Prep your produce
It’s important to harvest your produce as close to the shipping date as possible to maximize the freshness of the ingredients for the customer. Once harvested, store in a refrigerated source until ready for packing as close as possible to the time of transit.
When ready, grab your produce and wrap it in a moist paper towel to maintain a damp environment during transit. During tests, we’ve found this to be the best way to maintain freshness.
Please note: This particular example had the tips of the onions sticking out. Generally speaking, you need to wrap the produce in its entirety to avoid it becoming dried out.
After it’s been wrapped in a moist paper towel, place your produce in a plastic bag or compostable produce bag that will allow no moisture to escape. Paper-based bags have a tendency to dry out the produce during transit but can still be used if you would like to avoid single-use plastics. Ensure that there is ample moisture within the produce if so.
The perfect balance of moisture is key for the optimum freshness upon arrival. Loosely seal the bag so that fresh air can get in. Sealing the bag completely can cause the produce to spoil more quickly.
Step 3: Package it up
Place a foil liner in the bottom of your box and add your freshly wrapped greens to the bottom of the liner. If you are adding multiple bags of produce, you can just stack them on top of each other. Make sure to leave room for an ice pack if necessary.
Again, this particular example used Onions which have a very long chute. Normally, the bags will be lightly sealed and no loose produce will be touching the inside of the liner.
If it is cold/cool out, use the weather to your advantage and make sure there is proper ventilation to the cooler outside temps. It acts as a natural refrigerator. If this is the case, you won't need an ice pack and you may be able to do-away with the foil liner to save on packaging costs. Only do this if outdoor temperatures are below 50 degrees Fahrenheit.
Finally, add some sort of cushioning to the box so that your sealed contents do not bounce around and get crushed. This can be paper-based, plastic bubble wrap or even air-bags as seen in the example below. Some eco-friendly solutions would be old paper, recycled packaging from other shipments, bubble wrap from other projects or even crumpled-up paper bags that are laying around.
This part is absolutely crucial! If you don’t add padding to your shipment, then you run the very real risk of the package being jostled around and the weight of the contents essentially squishing itself.
Step 4: Tape it up and send it off
Once packaged, seal up your box and print out your shipping label from the Foraged Seller Dashboard.
We only recommend using UPS Next Day Air in the summer months due to the heat that rapidly deteriorates fresh produce. It’s also a great idea to keep the product in the best condition possible so that the customer is extremely pleased with their purchase. In the colder months UPS Second Day Air is a good option as well since the outside air acts as an external refrigerator (if the box is properly ventilated).
Any transit longer than 48hrs is a huge risk when shipping fresh produce as they can either mold or get slimy. This deteriorates the product significantly. The sooner they arrive, the fresher they will be.
Once you have entered the package details, print the label and tape it to the box. Drop the package off at your local UPS location right away once you print the label and tape it to the box.
Every second counts!
Remember: Sunday is a NO TRANSIT day for UPS and all other relevant carriers. Your fresh produce will sit and rot in the warehouse if shipped close to this day of the week. Don't make this mistake.
How to get the best shipping rates for your business
Wondering how to grow your produce business? Or how to sell your fresh specialty produce online? Set up shop on Foraged.
When you sell your produce online with Foraged, you get free access to our heavily discounted shipping rates through UPS. Foraged has discounted rates of up to 75% less than you’d experience on your own. Our low rates is a big reason why customers love buying specialty produce from Foraged shops. To increase your sales, set up your shop today and enjoy all of the powerful tools we offer!