Eat, Drink, and Be Merry: Your Holiday Guide to Shipping Food Within Canada and Beyond

Reem ElS aadi
Reem El Saadi Nov 09, 2021 • 4 min read
Tips for shipping food worldwide

Christmas is right around the corner, and Canadians are getting ready to share the love by putting together care packages for their friends and family. This includes food from their own kitchens or ready-made treats to spread some holiday cheer.

If you’re in the business of selling food, you want to ensure that those delicious treats make it to their destination fresh and in one piece. Shipping food items and perishables can be tricky, so we’ve put together this guide to help you ensure they arrive in the same condition they’re meant to. Whether you’re shipping sugar cookies, brownies, or festive beverages, from Canada shipping to international shipping, here’s everything you need to know to get holiday ready.

1. When to ship your package

Shipping food items internationally

Avoid sending items late in the week to avoid the risk of weekend delays. Aim to ship food items early in the week to allow enough time for them to arrive before Friday, and if contents of your package are perishable, make sure you opt for next-day delivery.

2. Choose the right shipping speed

Shipping food items abroad

Wherever you’re shipping food within Canada or abroad, your ideal shipping speed will depend on the product’s shelf life and temperature requirements. The question you need to ask is, “what’s the slowest shipping speed I can choose without compromising the food’s safe arrival?” 

Your shipping partner can advise you on your carrier options, taking cost, destination, and shelf life into account. While cold items do need to be delivered overnight, others don’t, so keep in mind that 2-day shipping is a lot less expensive and may just well be fast enough. Remember that by saving customers money on shipping, you give them a reason to order more often.

If you run a small business and are shipping food within Canada, you might want to consider initially only making shipping available to certain cities. Once you build your volume, you can expand your reach with delivery to additional locations. Wherever you decide to ship, your shipping policy should be crystal clear and readily available on your website to avoid disappointing your customers.

3. Use protective packaging

Shipping companies for shipping food

You want your food items to arrive fresh and undamaged, so make sure they’re packaged properly to protect them while they’re in transit. Remember that contents can shift, so pack your items in such a way that they’ll arrive in perfect condition even if the box is turned upside down.

No-one wants to eat a stale, crumbled cookie, so ensure that baked goods are tightly wrapped for freshness and also protected from breakage with sufficient padding to safeguard them against breakage and excessive movement inside the box. Ideally, food should be placed in airtight containers before boxing, and air gaps should be filled with squares of bubble cushioning. This reduces vibration and prevents baked goods from breaking. If you bake your own cookies, a helpful tip is to use an unbreakable container or canister as a cookie cutter, and then use the same canister to stack and ship the cookies. They’ll fit and stack perfectly, preventing damage during shipping.

Store-bought food should remain untampered with and intact in its original packaging. Ideally, it’s best to ship items that can withstand varying temperatures, but if food items need to remain cold to prevent spoilage, make sure you use appropriate insulation. Frozen food can be shipped as long as it’s insulated and properly packaged. Remember— food that is susceptible to melting or thawing needs to be packed in watertight packaging. 

4. Manage your shipping costs

Shipping food during holiday season

You can save money on shipping by reducing the size of your packaging. Control your costs by making your box as compact as possible. Shipping companies set prices based on “dimensional weight,” making size more important than actual weight of your package. This means that reducing your box dimensions by just one or two inches can result in real savings.

If you’re a business shipping food within Canada or internationally, another way to maximize your profits is including some of the shipping cost in the price of your product. This allows you to set your shipping prices lower while also covering your costs. 

5. Label your package correctly

Shipping food to USA

Proper labelling is always important, and this is especially true for international shipping of food. Depending on your destination, a full ingredient list may be required for customs clearance. Some countries also require that the item be marked as a gift that is only intended for consumption by the recipient. Compliance with each country’s regulations is a must, and failing to adhere to the rules can result in confiscation of the product by customs.

6. Inform your recipient of potential taxes and duties

Shipping food during holidays

Shipping food within Canada is straightforward for the most part, but if you’re shipping food to the USA, the value of the package will determine whether or not taxes and duties will be due at the time of delivery. The gift exemption is $100 USD per person; if the contents of your package exceed this amount in value, you should inform the recipient that they’ll have to pay duties and taxes on the full value of the shipment. Packages shipped by ground will also accrue brokerage fees, which can be avoided by express shipping.

7. Be aware of FDA clearance requirements

When it comes to shipping food to the USA, FDA compliance is a priority. All products in the food and beverage category should be FDA approved if they’re to be shipped to the US. These restrictions mean that you’ll have to follow a specific process with your carrier when completing customs forms, so make sure you ask your shipping company for the information you need— and don’t forget to share that list of ingredients!

Contact us to learn more and ensure your holiday treats arrive safely and on time. And if you haven’t done so already, download our 2021 Holiday Shipping Guide for essential shipping tips to get you ready for the magic of the holiday season.

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