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International Shipping of Food Products

Jul 24, 2008
International shipping of food products can be as simple as running a refrigerated truck from the United States into Canada or as complicated as getting expensive luxuries such as caviar or French wine shipped overseas. There are a number of factors to take into account when food is involved in the international shipping process. Temperature controls, safety features and regulations in the destination country are just a few of them.

Most international shipping companies prefer not to deal with any shipment that involves food of any kind. There are, however, international shipping companies that specialize in the packaging and moving of food products either over land or across the sea. These specialists are equipped with refrigerated shipping containers and have the knowledge and experience necessary to ensure that your food arrives safe and still edible.

Trucks and railroad cars move food regularly when international shipping is from one country to another on the same continent. The United States, Canada and Mexico have an agreement known as NAFTA, the North American Free Trade Act, which enables companies on both sides of the border to transport grain, produce, and processed foods without the burden of heavy taxes and regulations. There are inspectors at each border and trucks are subject to search but these three countries are dependent on each other for many different types of food products and the respective governments encourage international shipping.

In Europe, the formation of the European Union and introduction of a uniform currency, the Euro, has made international shipping an easier process. The countries formerly located in the Soviet Block known as Eastern Europe rely on international shipping of food from Western Europe in their rebuilding process. Trucks and trains travel across the continent frequently and the shipping ports are kept busy with food transports loading and unloading.

In order to ship overseas, food products need to be packaged and refrigerated to prevent spoiling. Certain items, known as non-perishable food products, can be canned and sent in a regular container but outside temperature factors must be taken under consideration. A ship may go through tropical or arctic conditions during a voyage and even canned goods can spoil or burst if not protected properly. Imported beer is one of the products that is canned and fairly durable but still may sour if exposed to temperature changes in the atmosphere during a voyage. Beer is usually kept at a constant temperature during international shipping.

Some food products are perishable and need to be shipped by air. This type of international shipping is the most expensive and involves careful packaging and shipping directly to a restaurant or food preparation facility where perishable foods can be immediately prepared for consumption or refrigerated immediately. A good example of this is the shipment of rare shellfish from the Far East to the coast of California. Many restaurants in the San Francisco area particularly will advertise flown in daily on special dishes that are hard to find and typically very pricy due to the air freight charges.
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Nir Dotan is a writer and promoter of
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