The year is 2020, and picnics in the park are all the rage. Everywhere in the country, people have flocked to outdoor spaces to enjoy socially-distanced meals with friends, and a big staple of those meals are meat and cheese boards (or charcuterie boards, for all you fancypants people out there). As a result, the cheese industry has seen an uptick of shipments going direct-to-consumer, because, well…you just can’t have a picnic without it. If you’re an online seller looking to get in on the action, Shipping School has got the gouda for you. This guide is all about how to ship cheese with USPS, how to keep it from spoiling during transit, and how to save the most money doing it. Let’s slice and dice!
When Shipping Cheese, Consider the Type, the Time of Year, and Where the Cheese is Going
Unfortunately, shipping cheese isn’t as simple as throwing it in an envelope, buying a label, and calling it a day. There are a variety of other factors to take into account, such as:
Different Types of Cheese Have Different Types of Consistencies
If you’ve ever tasted cheese in your life, you know this to be true. No one cheese has the same consistency, and some hold up much better than others without being in cooler temperatures. For instance, cheddar cheese starts developing a more floppy consistency and will begin to “sweat” at room temperatures.
Some Seasons and Destinations are Warmer than Others
The summer months are the hottest time of the year, and you’ll need to plan accordingly for shipping out cheese during this time. The best bet here is to include packing material like gel packs that are built for keeping the contents of a package cool during transit (we’ll get to this in a second). During winter months, on the other hand, you likely won’t need to add in any sort of cooling packing material to keep your cheese fresh. Putting it inside of a brand new corrugated box should do the trick!
Lastly, the destination of where you’re shipping the cheese to matters. If you’re shipping to Minneapolis, for instance, you may not need to worry about the temperature as much as you would when shipping to Phoenix. If you’re sending your cheese to a warmer climate, well…read on!
Use the Fastest USPS Service to Keep Cheese Shipments from Spoiling or Melting
So, now that you have all of that info rattling around in your head, it’s time to choose a shipping service. Our recommendation for shipping services, you ask? In this case, the faster, the better. USPS Priority Mail Express is the fastest service that the Postal Service offers, with delivery occurring overnight to most destinations. However, keep in mind that Priority Mail Express is their most expensive service, as well. You could always pay for regular Priority Mail or even First Class Package Service, if you’re trying to ship on a budget…but your package may take a couple of extra days to reach its destination.
Using the Proper Packing Material is Also Critical
If your goal is to keep your cheese cool enough to retain its consistency during transit, then the real key is to use the proper packing material. We recommend including frozen gel packs inside of your box (or “cold packs,” as they’re sometimes called). Once you’ve stuck them in the freezer, you can cushion the cheese inside of these packs, and you can place them around the lining of your box, as well. You can also include up to 5 pounds of dry ice inside of your shipment, if you’re feeling really courageous! Whatever you do, though, do not use regular ice. Ice will melt during transit, and will ruin your box…and everything inside of it.
Pro Tip: Looking for some gel packs that you can buy online? Check out the U-LINE website.
Protect Your Shipments with Extra Insurance
Regardless of the type of cheese you’re shipping, you should always spring for some extra shipping insurance on top of the cost of postage. All Priority Mail services come with $50 of insurance at the Post Office, which will cover you if your shipments arrives damaged or gets lost in transit. However, you can always choose to protect your packages with extra insurance, if your cheese is on the more expensive side. There are several shipping insurance companies that shipping carriers such as USPS partner with, and they provide much more coverage than what USPS automatically includes with Priority Mail.
Third-party insurance companies, such as Shipsurance, also cover you in situations where USPS marks the package as “Delivered,” but it’s in fact missing. In our experience, it’s always worth it to grab additional insurance, if not for just your peace of mind. It only costs a couple of extra bucks, and if anything goes wrong with your package, you’ll be able to file a claim for the full amount of value you declared!
Save the Most Money on Cheese Shipments by Using Online USPS Shipping Software
Here’s the real slice of information that you’re going to want to know: no matter what you’re shipping, you’ll always save the most money when you use shipping software to buy postage online. Many shipping software companies allow you to access the deepest level of discounts that USPS offers, known as Commercial Pricing. USPS typically only reserves these savings for huge shippers sending out 50,000+ packages per year, but when you use shipping software, you can ship at those same discounted rates!
Shipping software also allows you to print labels from the comfort of your own home, and you can even schedule free pickups for your packages that are done by your letter carrier. This way, you’ll never have to walk into the Post Office ever again—unless you want to, of course. Last but not least, the best shipping software options are totally free, without any markups or hidden costs. It’s just up to you to do the research to find out which option is the best choice for you…because there are quite a few out there.
Simply put, the savings you’ll get from online shipping software will put the most cheese back in your pocket…and when it comes to shipping, everyone wants as much extra cheese as they can get. See what we did there?
Looking for the right shipping software for you?
To get the deepest USPS discounts for all your packages, check out our guide: