Keeping Summer Deliveries Cool: Food and Wine Shipping Options

Though summer is still months away, companies may well be into their planning for summer shipping. Summer deliveries are a unique challenge for the food and beverage industry, particularly when it comes to wine shipments. The heat can easily spoil an entire truckload of goods if you do not plan appropriately. Otherwise, you’ll be postponing shipments of those tasting room and wine club orders…and who wants to wait four months for their order?

So what options currently exist for summer deliveries? And what are the pros and cons of each? Here is a quick look at the most common alternatives.

Ice Pack Shippers

Ice pack shipping has been the traditional way of maintaining a package’s temperature during transit. There are a variety of ice pack choices available depending on your product’s temperature needs.

Ice Pack Shippers: the Pros

  • Helps maintain a consistently cool area around the product
  • Can be used from any shipping location
  • Ice packs can stay with the product up through “the last mile”

Ice Pack Shippers: the Cons

  • New shipping boxes needed
  • The Ice packs can be costly in and of themselves
  • Increases the bulk of packages, which can increase the cost of transportation based on DIM weight. See our upcoming Blog Post on this topic.

Warehousing Inventory in Multiple Locations

A second option lets you reach distant customers via ground shipping more quickly by warehousing some stock in a second, more central location. For example, Copper Peak offers warehousing and shipping from our centrally located St. Louis facility. This also means that your products spend fewer continuous trips in potentially hot trucks.

We discuss the option of multiple facilities at greater length in this post.  With considering warehousing in multiple locations for summer deliveries, keep in mind the following:

Multiple Locations: the Pros

  • Decrease shipping time without paying for air freight
  • Faster delivery to market while improving the customers’ experience
  • Use of ice packs shippers can be added for additional protection/ peace of mind

Multiple Locations: the Cons

  • More lead time needed for sending products, packaging, and marketing collateral to the additional location(s) unless you are sourcing products close to that location
  • Production forecasting for kit builds and order processing will be needed for all locations
  • Inventory management and movement will need consistent attention.

FedEx Cold Chain

Your third option is with FedEx Cold Chain service from California. Packages are picked up by FedEx Supply Chain Transportation and delivered to their consolidation point and mixed with other FedEx Cold Chain clients. Packages are arranged by recipient zip code location and are placed on FedEx Supply Chain temperature-controlled line haul trucks to be delivered to any of six different FedEx hub locations around the country. Cold chain can be used in conjunction with FedEx Delivery Manager or the FedEx, “Hold at Location” (HAL) services.

FedEx Cold Chain: the Pros

  • Closely monitored temperature-controlled line haul vehicles
  • Live tracking through
  • Packages deliver via the FedEx Express Delivery Network, typically by 10:30am, to beat the summer heat

FedEx Cold Chain: the Cons

  • More expensive than ground service (though a little less than the typical FedEx 2Day air service)
  • Follows a once weekly pickup/ delivery schedule.
  • Reroutes, redirects, address changes will delay shipments and keep packages from delivering in a timely manner

Zone Skipping

A fourth option to consider is zone skipping. This is where a shipper consolidates many individual packages, holding them until the number of items reaches a full truckload. Those items are then sent together from one zone (location) to another. For example, Shipping from Napa Valley/ Sonoma Valley might be in UPS/FedEx Zone 2, while New York is in Zone 8. Shipping directly from Zone 2 to Zone 8 via consolidated truckload would be zone skipping. From New York, the shipments would be inserted into the UPS/FedEx network and ship from that locations zone to the delivery recipient zone. This will change a zone 8 shipment to a Zone 2 or Zone 3 shipment. The idea is to eliminate small package movements one at a time and insert a consolidated move of many packages across the country for a potential savings. Copper Peak calls this the Zone 78 program.

Zone Skipping: the Pros

  • Orders can be processed for each hub location drop in batches for bulk load onto pallets
  • Great for pre-kitted club shipments
  • Reduces Zone 7 or Zone 8 moves from California to Zones 2 or Zone 3 from an eastern hub facility

Zone Skipping: the Cons

  • There is no tracking visibility until a package is scanned at the forward hub location
  • Zone skip packages often take up more space and require additional  pallets/trucking to move the same amount of volume than case goods
  • No ability to add ice packs at forward hub locations

Weather Holds

As a last ditch effort, you can always put orders on hold during the hottest times of the year. Your customers won’t likely be happy with the delay, but better to have an order arrive late and safe than have it arrive spoiled. Still, we find that the above options are worth the investment in terms of customer experience. It is money well spent.