Finding suitable product packaging can prove problematic at the best of times but when it comes to getting perishable chilled or frozen goods safely to the customer, things can become far more complicated.

Locally produced, artisan food and drink has become very big business and as demand grows; increasing numbers of small businesses are getting in on the act. However, selling fresh food presents a unique set of challenges when it comes to product packaging as it needs to cope with the challenges of transport, storage and refrigeration before the goods reach their final destination.

How you package chilled or frozen products will largely depends on the type of product you are selling. For example, chilled cakes and bakery goods must be packed in a way that protects them from damage and is robust enough to prevent the goods inside from being crushed. Don’t forget that product packaging should also be designed to prevent the boxes from slipping around during transit so non-slip box bases can prove very useful.

Time and temperature are vital when it comes to transporting perishable goods. The packaging used must be able to withstand moisture and low temperatures which means that the method of transport used must ensure a constant optimum temperature which is a range of between four and five degrees centigrade. Speed is also of the essence so it’s important to use a specialist carrier with expertise in transporting perishable items.

Packaging needs to fulfil a variety of roles – not just the protection of the product within. Great product packaging manages to successfully encourage consumers to buy, but also keeps the product at its best; in tip-top condition, fresh and ready to be enjoyed. This can prove particularly problematic when packaging fresh food as the packaging you choose needs to be attractive, protective and to have sufficient labelling to provide a sell by date, nutritional information and an ingredients list.

Before deciding which type of packaging to use for your fresh products, it can be wise to try out a couple of different designs but some products are naturally suited to some types of packaging over others. For example, fresh should is best packaged in plastic pots or cartons, whilst cakes, flans or quiches can be protected safely but displayed attractively in boxes with clear film lids.

It can be very tempting – especially in the early stages of running a business – to get distracted by attractively designed packaging but before you go ahead and order a huge quantity; making and testing samples of different types of packaging can help you avoid making costly mistakes. If you feel that your craft skills aren’t up to making prototype packaging, the majority of co packing companies will be happy to make several mock-up designs for you to try before you order. This is the only way to be sure that the packaging you choose works with your particular product.