Does FedEx Ship Frozen Foods?

If building a direct-to-consumer (DTC) brand was entrepreneurship on “hard mode,” building a perishable goods DTC brand has to be considered “expert mode.” Between higher shipping rates, expensive insulated packaging, and refrigeration solutions, you’re constantly searching for a better alternative to any one of these problems.

But above all, you want a reliable frozen shipping solution. And as one of the world’s leading shipping companies, few are more qualified than FedEx.

Does FedEx Ship Frozen Food?

Yes, FedEx can ship frozen food across the United States and even internationally via FedEx First Overnight®, FedEx 2Day®, and FedEx Express Saver®. They offer multiple temperature-sensitive shipping solutions for frozen food, beverages, and other perishables to your customers or vendors. Here’s a more in-depth breakdown of your frozen shipping options:

Temperature-Sensitive Shipping Solutions

FedEx offers a reliable cold chain solution for frozen food and other temperature-sensitive goods. With various temperature-controlled options, they can store foods at a stable temperature range of -10°C to -25°C (14°F to -13°F). And not that you’ll need it for perishable foods or beverages, but they have a deep freeze option for medical & pharmaceutical products that drops to -150°C to -195°C (-238°F to -319°F).

Your frozen food will be stored in an Envirotainer RKN t2, a pallet-size container that’s cooled via dry ice. For smaller shipments, you can share the space with other shipments. But for larger orders, you can rent an entire Envirotainer, earning you a bulk discount. For reference, it’s 2.93 cubic meters in size.

Photo: Envirotainer AB

Refrigeration Materials

Dry ice is the most efficient way to ship frozen foods over long distances via FedEx. However, there are quantity limitations and labeling requirements, especially if you’re shipping internationally.

Before packing any food into the insulated container, you need to wrap them in water-tight plastics or containers to prevent any leakage or exposure to dry ice, as it’s a toxic substance.

Dry ice begins to sublimate (melt directly from solid state to gas state) as soon as it’s removed from its original storage container. It does not happen instantly, but at an average rate of 5-10 pounds per 24 hours. Though it lasts far longer than standard ice cubes, it’s far more expensive. The price ranges from $1.00 - $3.00 per pound. Reflecting on the standard 1, 2, and 3-day shipping options with UPS, this is what you should expect:

The above costs are just estimates, but they only account for the costs of the dry ice costs. On top of that, you also have to factor in total shipping costs, which will vary based on package weight, dimensions, and temperature requirements, as well as origin & destination locations. Use a perishable goods shipping aggregator like ShipFare to guarantee yourself the best rates & routes available.

Get the Best Frozen Food Shipping Rates

On top of costs, there are also several regulatory boxes to check, like 49 CFR 173.217, a safety measure that aims to eliminate potential carbon dioxide incidents, the principal component of dry ice. International frozen food shipments require adherence to IATA Packing Instructions 954 set by the International Civil Aviation Organization.

Many eCommerce brands have shifted towards gel packs for foods that just require refrigeration. They’re a cost-effective alternative to dry ice but aren’t able to sustain freezing temperatures.

Food Safety Compliance & Regulations

Shipping frozen & perishable goods is no easy task for eCommerce brands, especially at scale. With shipping costs at all-time highs, the last thing you want to deal with is regulatory issues. And as frustrating as they may be, they’re in place to ensure that frozen products are handled, stored, and transported in a manner that safeguards public health (and your products).

But with ShipFare, you can eliminate one headache: compliance. You can easily manage all of your domestic licenses & permits, as well as international customs compliance, all from the central dashboard. No more worrying once your shipment leaves your warehouse – you’re good to go.

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Best Practices for Shipping Frozen Food with FedEx

Packaging Tips

If you want your frozen food to make it to its destination without any hiccups, you have to do a bit of leg work before it leaves the warehouse. If not properly insulated, the dry ice will sublimate sooner than expected and the food may spoil. And if there’s a delay, even for just a few hours, the product will be ruined and you’ll have a nasty customer service ticket to deal with.

After you’ve covered the edges with a waterproof liner, place a layer of dry ice on the bottom of the box. From there, pack your products & dry ice like lasagna: one layer of dry ice, one layer of product, etc. Fill in any gaps with dry ice to create a uniform environment within the insulated box. If there’s room around the edges, fill them with dry ice or additional insulation, like foam or bubble wrap.

Seal your packages with pressure-sensitive adhesive tape, which won’t lose its adhesion when exposed to wet or other extreme conditions. Also, avoid water-activated tapes that immediately lose their stick once wet. Up until this point, you’ve done a ton of work to make sure your food arrives still frozen; a tight seal will preserve internal temperature and prevent contamination risks.

Before you hand it to FedEx, clearly label your packages as perishable, indicating necessary storage conditions. This informs handlers of special care requirements and aids in quick and proper handling upon arrival.

Finally, make sure to accurately weigh and measure your packed boxes to avoid unexpected shipping fees and to select the most cost-effective service based on your package’s size and weight.

Scheduling & Timing

Shipping times are tricky when you’re shipping perishable goods. Make sure that your customer is fully aware of cutoff times when they place an order to manage expectations.

On the back end, choose your shipping days wisely to minimize transit time. Try to ship early in the week to avoid weekend delays that may compromise the quality of your frozen products. Familiarize yourself with the cut-off times for different FedEx options and plan your shipment preparation accordingly, ensuring your packages are ready for timely pickup or drop-off.

Beware of increased shipping loads during holiday seasons, especially Black Friday/Cyber Monday and between Christmas & New Years. You’re at the mercy of the busiest period in the DTC world; plan accordingly. Keep your customers in the loop and set clear delivery expectations upfront to minimize customer service complaints. Lastly, coordinate with FedEx for potential scheduled pickups, optimizing your operations around a consistent and reliable timetable.

Mitigating Risks

Invest in full-coverage shipping insurance to protect your business in the case of product loss or damage during transit. Regularly review and update your insurance coverage to align with the value of your shipments. Use FedEx’s Delivery Manager® to get tracking details & alerts. Clearly communicate with your customers about potential delays, offering transparency and solutions when problems occur.

FedEx isn’t the only frozen shipping carrier, and you may need to find alternative shipping carriers or routes to maintain operations during unexpected disruptions. Again, ShipFare’s aggregator platform can help you monitor these carriers to get the lowest & fastest rates. And finally, train your staff (or 3PL) in best practices for packaging and documentation to reduce the chance of human error. There’s only so much you can control on your end, but you want to make sure you get every bit of that right.

Alternatives to UPS for Frozen Food Shipping


UPS is a viable alternative to FedEx for shipping your frozen food. They offer a variety of temperature-sensitive shipping solutions through their UPS Temperature True® service. Outfitted with Med 500 boxes that guarantee extended protection, the company even offers thermal protection for up to 120 hours of transit. And if things go wrong, UPS has the most extensive network of cold chain centers, with 125 spread around 34 countries.


USPS is another option to consider for short haul, domestic shipments. There are no vehicles in their fleet that offer refrigeration or temperature control, which means the responsibility falls entirely on you to ensure there’s enough dry ice to last until the customer receives the package.

UPS is a top provider of frozen food shipping services. With a robust cold chain network, commitment to regulatory compliance, and various pricing options, they’re a compelling partner for perishable eCommerce brands.

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