Unlike many shelf-stable food products, fresh and frozen goods require extra considerations during shipping regarding acceptable transit timing and temperatures. Maintaining safe thermal environments in your cold chain by partnering with a knowledgeable third-party logistics (3PL) provider minimizes transportation expenses while promoting compliance with health and safety regulations, retaining product integrity and peak quality, and reducing spoilage and lost profits. Learn more about handling, transporting, and storing fresh and frozen goods, and how their needs differ.

Transportation Windows: Transit Time and Shelf Life

Shelf life varies widely depending on product type, preparation, conditions at packaging and shipping, and more. Ideal transit times for fresh food products are short to ensure that goods arrive at their destinations with maximum remaining shelf life. Fresh foods like fruits, vegetables, dairy, and meats are particularly vulnerable to shipping delays and fluctuating or insufficiently cold environmental conditions. With best-by dates ranging from days to weeks at most, even minor slowdowns or changes in the environment can result in products that are of lesser quality or even unsafe. Consumers are increasingly choosing fresh, organic, and minimally processed and preserved products, making reliable and effective fresh food transportation even more critical.

Frozen products are less constrained by the need for speedy delivery as they have a longer shelf life, but they do require a precise temperature range to retain their quality and remain safe for consumption. Shippers must carefully maintain the temperature of the goods’ environment from the frozen products’ point of origin to the end destination. Choosing transportation and logistics service providers who understand how to ship frozen meat, fruits, vegetables, and other goods will assist you in assuring the safety and quality of your frozen products.

Handling: Loading and Unloading

In addition to temperature and humidity control, fresh foods require additional care during loading and unloading to preserve quality and prevent damage like bruising. Careful pallet placement, stacking, and wrapping should be top of mind in maximizing protection for these vulnerable products.

Frozen food products are typically easier to manage in transit because they often have sturdier packaging and are less prone to damage with standard handling. Even small or brief temperature changes, however, can be disastrous in terms of both quality and safety.

Transportation Equipment for Temperature Regulation

Arranging experienced, well-equipped transportation services when shipping fresh and frozen food products offers the best opportunity for delivering them safely. Your chosen shipping partner should have the resources and knowledge to provide and maintain the necessary conditions during transit for your particular fresh or frozen goods.

Temperature requirements for fresh goods vary. Typically, refrigerated trucks or containers are necessary to maintain these temperatures during transit. To address ambient conditions, it’s beneficial to have flexible temperature control. Humidity, airflow, and ventilation must also be carefully managed to safeguard against condensation for optimal product freshness while preventing spoilage.

Frozen foods require tighter temperature control to maintain subzero temperatures and prevent thawing for optimal quality and safety. Service providers can achieve this through active temperature regulation solutions like reefer trailers or passive options such as:

  • Dry ice
  • Gel packs
  • Liquid nitrogen packs
  • Insulated quilts

Insulated packaging and containers in general help guard against heat transfer. While these solutions are robust, shippers should perform regular maintenance and calibration to ensure proper functionality and peak equipment performance. They should also have a contingency plan like backup cooling systems in place and make use of monitoring tools like temperature deviation alarms so that shippers can act immediately in case of temperature fluctuations.


The appropriate shipping conditions for frozen goods are generally consistent regardless of when and where those products travel. Safe transportation for fresh goods, however, will vary depending on external or ambient conditions and the shipping method. For example, foods that can melt, like chocolate, might require different shipping considerations in summer than in winter. Also, fresh products like fruits and vegetables are more likely to be available at certain times of year in different regions, and holidays can affect product and shipping demand as well.

Choose Mulder Brothers For Your Frozen Food Logistics

Experienced transportation and logistical providers with up-to-date technology, robust client and carrier support, an optimized transportation management system (TMS), and flexible less-than-truckload (LTL) shipping capabilities are best positioned to protect the quality and safety of fresh and frozen products. If you’re unsure how to transport frozen meat long distances, you’re interested in frozen warehousing, or you need dependable logistical solutions like multi-vendor consolidation, the team at Mulder Brothers Brokerage can help support your cold chain operations.

Since 2008, we’ve combined our extensive LTL frozen shipping and cold chain 3PL expertise with a network of trusted carriers, warehouses, and distribution centers to offer reliable, cost-effective goods transportation solutions for businesses nationwide. We and our partners adhere to all applicable FDA and related regulations for food safety, assuring proper temperature control and monitoring during product handling, transportation, and storage to protect your frozen goods’ integrity throughout the journey. 

Contact us today to learn more about our capabilities for frozen goods shipping and experience firsthand our service-first commitment.

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