How to Ship Live Shrimp with USPS

Learn about shipping live shrimp with the US Postal Service and properly packaging them to prevent leakage and damage
ship live shrimp with USPS
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Who doesn’t love a good shrimp cocktail? How about some shrimp scampi? Shrimp fried rice? Whatever kind of dish you prefer, shrimp is one of the most popular foods in the world. It’s enjoyed by hundreds of millions of people every day…especially Benjamin Buford “Bubba” Blue from Forrest Gump. As a result, countless merchants and restaurants engage in shipping live shrimp as part of their businesses. Despite their popularity, live shrimp aren’t necessarily the easiest item to ship. Fortunately, we’ve got everything you need to know about shipping live shrimp in the United States. Let’s get cookin’!

USPS Will Allow You to Ship Live Shrimp

If you want to ship live shrimp, look no further than the US Postal Service. USPS will allow you to ship live shrimp and will offer you the cheapest rates. UPS and FedEx will also let you ship shrimp, but both carriers will end up charging you way more money than shipping with USPS.

Here’s the bottom line: no matter what shipping carrier you choose, the key here is making sure you package the shrimp properly!

Properly Packaging the Live Shrimp

Here’s where it gets tricky. Shrimp obviously need to be in water in order to survive, and water can get pretty heavy. Also, water tends to be a bit…well, wet. Since that’s the case, you’ll need to take all the necessary precautions to prevent leakage before you send out your parcel.

  • First, pick up a new, corrugated cardboard box. You can actually order boxes for free off of USPS’ website. Once you’ve got your box, you’ll want to insulate it with styrofoam lining. Make sure the styrofoam covers up all the cardboard on the bottom of your box.
  • Next, fill an airtight plastic baggie halfway full of water, and drop the shrimp inside. You’ll also want to add some java moss or some sort of aquatic plant matter for the shrimp to cling to. Tie up the bag at the top, and then wrap a second bag around the first baggie to prevent leakage in case the bag breaks. Tie off the second baggie, and then place your bag(s) of water and shrimp in a large styrofoam container with a lid (think those big soup containers you get when you order take out from a restaurant).
  • Depending on how many styrofoam containers you’ve got inside your package, there may be a lot of space for them to potentially move around and topple over during transit. Therefore, we suggest you add in some void fill material such as air pillows to hold the containers in place.

Pro Tip: To help keep the water cool, we suggest also throwing some gel packs into the box. Gel packs are one of the most popular kinds of packing material for shipping perishables and temperature-sensitive goods such as live shrimp.

Keep Temperatures in Mind

Shrimp are very sensitive to temperature changes, so it’s always good to keep in mind the temperature of the destination you’re shipping to. Generally speaking, the appropriate temperature range for live shrimp is between 50 and 80 degrees Fahrenheit. If you’re looking to ship to a destination much warmer than that, such as Phoenix, AZ in the summer, it may not be the best idea. Just some food for thought.

We Suggest Shipping Shrimp Priority Mail Cubic or Priority Mail Express

Since you’re filling a package with water, it will likely weigh more than 1 pound. Above that weight, there are a few different mail classes you can use to ship your shrimp. The cheapest option is to ship Parcel Select Ground (or USPS Retail Ground, if you go into the Post Office). However, this service is the slowest service USPS offers, and your shrimp are unlikely to survive a long journey in transit. So, steer clear of that one!

Priority Mail Express is the fastest shipping service that USPS offers, featuring overnight delivery to most urban locations. This is a great option for shipping shrimp, since it makes for the least amount of time in transit. However, Priority Mail Express is definitely the most costly option, running anywhere from $22.68 and up.

Pro Tip: Protect your shrimp! You may also want to purchase “Special Handling” at the Post Office to ensure your package doesn’t get tossed around during transit.

Priority Mail Cubic is the Best Option

If you’re looking for a hybrid of quick delivery and affordable rates, the best option is to ship USPS Priority Mail Cubic. Priority Mail Cubic is a special discounted service that is priced based on a package’s outer dimensions instead of its total weight. Since that’s the case, it’s perfect for sending out smaller, heavy parcels such as a package full of live shrimp and water. When you ship Priority Mail Cubic, you can load your packages up to 20 pounds without affecting the price!

Keep in mind that you can only access Priority Mail Cubic with online USPS shipping software, but the savings make it well worth it!

Use Shipping Software to Save Money When Shipping Live Shrimp

Speaking of shipping software: like shipping anything else, you’ll save the most money on your shrimp shipment (say that five times fast!) when you use shipping software to buy postage online. Shipping software companies let you access special USPS discounts such as USPS Commercial Pricing that the Postal Service typically only reserves for huge commercial shippers. These savings can end up being as high as 90% off what you’d pay at the Post Office!

Let’s look at a quick example. Let’s say you’re shipping a 15x8x6″ package that weighs 10 pounds Priority Mail from Seattle to Los Angeles. In this case, the Retail Rate will run you $26.85. However, with the special discounts you get with shipping software, this same shipment will only cost $10.34 when sent Priority Mail Cubic. That’s more than 60% off! Forrest Gump would approve of those savings.

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