How to Ship Chocolate

While shipping chocolates straight to your customers is a vital business strategy, it also comes with its challenges. If chocolate softens in your hand, how can you ship it to your customers without it melting? Whether you’re starting an e-commerce food business or optimizing your food shipping service, we explain everything you need to know to ship your chocolate.

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How to Pack Chocolate for Shipping

chocolatier packing a chocolate Easter egg into a chocolate box insert

You put time, love, and labor into creating delicious chocolate candies, so you should sell and share them outside your immediate area. Learn how to pack chocolate for shipping so it holds its form and flavor.

  1. Work with cold, clean hands. Chocolate has a softening point lower than the human body temperature, so run your hands under cold water before packaging your chocolate.
  2. Keep your chocolates in a wine cooler before shipping them. Shipping chocolate requires careful temperature planning because cold induces sugar bloom and warmth melts chocolate. To address these dual challenges, many chocolatiers store their chocolates in wine refrigerators to cool them down prior to shipping them. Wine refrigerators are not as cold as regular refrigerators and won’t cause sugar bloom.
  3. Add your chocolates to a chocolate box. Remember to take the same care and consideration for presentation as you would when packing your chocolates at your storefront. A positive unboxing experience goes a long way toward generating brand loyalty. The chocolate box also protects your candies.
  4. Build your shipping box. Use an insulated shipping box that is 2-3 times the size of your chocolate container. The additional space separates your chocolate from the heat and protects your truffles from getting smashed if the box dents in transit.
  5. Line the bottom of your shipping box with metalized bubble packaging. Metalized packing bubbles deflect the heat, insulate your chocolates, and provide cushioning.
  6. Decide whether you need cold packs. Based on the time of year, destination, and distance your chocolates are traveling, determine how many cold packs (if any) you need to prevent your chocolates from melting.
  7. If using cold packs, place one on the bottom of the shipping container. Wrap the cold packs in a resealable plastic food bag or another leak-proof container. This prevents condensation from hurting your chocolates or leaking into the shipping box.
  8. Insert the chocolate box into the shipping container. If applicable, surround it with cold packs. Fill remaining gaps with packing materials.
  9. Add a sheet of metalized insulation to the top of the package. It should cover the entire top of the package.
  10. Secure the shipping box. Tape all the seams to reduce warm air penetration.
  11. Add the shipping labels. Your chocolates are ready for shipment!

Chocolate Packaging Supplies:

You’ll need the following chocolate packaging supplies to pack your chocolate for shipping,

How to Ship Chocolate without Melting

The most challenging part of shipping chocolate is preventing it from melting. Chocolate softens at 72 degrees Fahrenheit, which puts it at risk of smudging, taking on fingerprints, and receiving structural damage. While chocolate's heat sensitivity makes shipping precarious, chocolatiers can thrive in the e-commerce market by following chocolate shipping best practices. Learn how to keep chocolate from melting in the mail below:

    • Elect to delay shipment orders. Some chocolatiers elect to delay shipments if the temperature spikes. As long as you communicate, customers are less frustrated by prolonged arrival than by ruined product.
    • Use overnight shipping. If you’re shipping chocolates in the summer, you may need to use overnight shipping to ensure they arrive intact.
    • Choose insulating and cooling packing materials. Metalized bubble packaging insulates your chocolates and deflects the heat. Nestling your chocolate box in icepacks keeps them below their softening point.
    • Don’t ship chocolate orders Thursday through Sunday. Shipments leading up to and on Saturday/Sunday remain in hot warehouses over the weekend. To avoid this, let your customers know you won't ship orders placed on these days until Monday. Send them an email confirmation once their order ships so they have confidence and clarity about your process.
    • Provide an arrival alert. After working hard to ensure your chocolates don’t melt during transit, the last thing you want is for them to melt on your client’s front porch. Provide updates on your chocolate’s shipping progress so your customer can bring them inside as soon as they arrive.

    Should You Ship Chocolates in the Summer?

    Some chocolatiers forgo shipping chocolate in the summer months. You'll lose some business by foregoing summer shipments, and the proper packaging makes this profit reduction avoidable. However, depending on the size of your operation and where your main clientele lives, shipping chocolate in the summer may not be cost-effective. Ask yourself these three questions to determine whether your chocolate shop is up to filling summer shipment orders:

    1. Where are you shipping to? If most of your clients are from warm-weather areas, then shipping chocolates in the dead of summer is going to be expensive.
    2. Is it cost effective? The additional fees may scare off customers, making it nonsensical to stock chocolate shipping supplies over the summer for the number of orders received.
    3. How big is your operation? Shipping chocolates during the hottest months of the year requires a vigilant eye on weather patterns, careful packaging, and detailed shipping timelines. If you are the sole employee of your chocolate business or operate with a limited staff, you may not have the help you need to tackle summer chocolate shipments.

    If you don’t feel confident about shipping chocolate in the summer but you aren’t willing to give up national sales for several months each year, you could exclusively ship to cooler weather states from June through August. Alternately, you could include a pop-up link to other candies you do ship during the summer if a potential customer tries to add chocolate to their online cart during the hottest months.

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    Best Way to Ship Chocolate

    A gloved hand lays a protective packing layer over a box full of chocolates

    Now that you know how to package your sweets, you must determine the best way to ship your chocolate. Many chocolatiers offer both standard and expedited shipping based on the season and candy purchased. If your client lives in a destination over 70 degrees Fahrenheit, consider requiring them to ship Next Day Air via UPS. When shipping to cooler climates, USPS two-day mail is a reliable and economical alternative. Discover our top tips for the best way to ship chocolate:

    • Know your chocolate box dimensions and average weight. Before choosing a shipping carrier, you need to know your packages’ average dimensions and weight so you can figure out the most affordable carrier for your products.
    • Provide total transparency. If your customer’s shipment requires ice packs and other special packing materials, it’s reasonable to charge for them. Patrons appreciate transparency, so we recommend giving a breakdown of shipment costs at checkout and including the price of the ice packs. Potential customers are less likely to abandon their cart if they understand your pricing structure.
    • Consider including shipping in the sales price. Offering "free shipping" discloses the total expense of ordering your chocolates from the start. This can help prevent abandoned carts once the customers see the shipping fees.
    • Offer custom tracking. Post-purchase platforms like parcelLab allow you to create a customized tracking page. You can provide food storage instructions and beverage pairing ideas on your custom page.

    Shipping Chocolate FAQs

    Have more questions about shipping chocolate? We don’t blame you! Shipping chocolate is a complicated process. From providing insider tips to breaking down how to ship niche chocolate treats, read on to find answers to the most frequently asked chocolate shipping questions.

    Melting Point of Chocolate

    Understanding the melting point of different types of chocolate allows you to evaluate how many ice packs you need for each chocolate shipment order. As a rule, the darker the chocolate, the higher the melting point. For a thorough analysis, check out our breakdown of dark, milk, white, ruby, and ganache chocolate below.

    • Melting Point of Dark Chocolate = High in cocoa solids, dark chocolate melts at 90-96 degrees Fahrenheit.
    • Melting Point of White and Milk Chocolate = While white chocolate contains no cocoa solids, most milk chocolate contains few cocoa solids. The average melting temperature range for these chocolate types is between 86-90 degrees Fahrenheit.
    • Melting Point of Ruby Chocolate = A newcomer to the chocolate world, ruby chocolate comes from ruby cocoa beans. Its perfect tempering point is 86 degrees Fahrenheit.
    • Melting Point of Chocolate Ganache = Ganache, a chocolate mixture composed of boiled heavy cream, chocolate, and flavorings, melts at room temperature (aka in the mid-70s degrees Fahrenheit).

    Do All Chocolate Candies Have the Same Melting Point?

    While the average melting point for chocolate across all types is between 86- and 90-degrees Fahrenheit, not all chocolate candies have the same melting point. You’ll need to take the type of chocolate you're sending into consideration to keep it from melting in the mail.

    The darker the chocolate, the less prone it is to melting. Chocolate candy uses two extracted portions of the cocoa bean: cocoa solids and cocoa butter. Most white and dark chocolate contain comparable amounts of cocoa butter. However, white chocolate has no cocoa solids. Without the cocoa solids to absorb liquefying cocoa butter, white chocolate melts fast. Chocolatiers increase the candies' "darkness" by adding more cocoa solids. So, milk chocolate contains some cocoa solids and dark chocolate is saturated with cocoa solids.

    Can You Freeze Chocolates?

    Chocolatiers do not recommend freezing or refrigerating chocolate. Cooling chocolate and then exposing it to warm air causes condensation to form on its surface. The moisture dissolves some of the chocolate's sugar content. When the sugar recrystallizes, it creates a white, grainy layer known as “sugar bloom.” Sugar bloom distorts the taste and texture of your chocolate. So, while freezing is a great preservation strategy when shipping baked goods, avoid it at all costs when shipping chocolate.

    Pro Tip: Store chocolate in a wine cooler instead of freezing it. While traditional freezing and refrigeration are ill-advised, some chocolatiers store their chocolates in a wine cooler to prevent them from softening. Operating in a range between 45- and 67-degrees Fahrenheit, wine coolers are not as cold as refrigerators. By setting a wine cooler to its warmest operating temperature, you’re able to keep ganache-filled truffles intact without inducing a sugar bloom.

    Keeping your chocolates cool prior to shipping helps prevent them from melting in the mail. If you choose to store your chocolates in a wine cooler, place distinct flavors in airtight containers to preserve their taste. Cocoa butter absorbs odors and flavors, so storing blueberry truffles and chocolate turtles side my side will cause flavor perversion.

    How to Ship Chocolate Covered Strawberries

    chocolate covered strawberry in a paper cup sitting next to a box of chocolate covered strawberries

    Shipping temperature-sensitive and perishable chocolate-covered strawberries requires extreme care. Follow these steps to ship your chocolate covered strawberries and prevent spoiling:

    1. Chill the strawberries. Refrigerate the strawberries for two hours or until they’re hardened to prevent the chocolate from melting in transit.
    2. Once cold, package and ship. Chocolate-covered strawberries that are refrigerated for more than a day will not arrive at their shipping destination fresh.
    3. Wrap each chocolate-covered strawberry. Cellophane wrap will mold itself to the strawberry. Once wrapped in cellophane, place the strawberries in large baking cups.
    4. Place the strawberries in a sturdy container with a tight sealing lid. The container needs to be durable enough to protect the strawberries. Leave an inch of buffer space between the strawberries to prevent them from bumping into each other.
    5. Add your box of strawberries to an insulated box. This larger box will ward off heat, preserve your strawberries’ freshness, and keep the chocolate from melting.
    6. Lay packing peanuts or packing bubbles on the bottom of your shipping box. This creates a cushioning layer for your strawberries.
    7. Fill the empty spaces in your shipping container with packing materials. Once you've secured the strawberry box on all sides, layer packing materials on top and seal the shipping container with packing tape.
    8. Choose the fastest delivery service. To keep the chocolate-covered strawberries from spoiling, select overnight, express, or one-day delivery.

    How to Ship Chocolate Covered Pretzels

    Because pretzels are prone to breakage and chocolate is prone to melting, you must take exceptional care when shipping chocolate-covered pretzels. We break down how to ship chocolate covered pretzels below:

    1. Package the pretzels. If you're using pretzel rods, individually heat seal each pretzel before adding them to a sealable food-grade bag (don’t overstuff the bag). For regular pretzels, heat seal your servings together. We suggest using bags because they absorb the impact if the carrier drops the shipping container. If you place the pretzels in a rigid container, they are more likely to shatter because they will crash against the hard material.
    2. Label and seal the food-grade bag. This is your opportunity to add branding to your chocolate-covered pretzels and create an attractive unboxing experience. It’s also the time to include FDA-required allergy and calorie information.
    3. Add the bag to a bubble mailer. Bubble mailers help protect your chocolate-covered pretzels during transit.
    4. Assemble a mailing box. You can pick up large mailing boxes for free at the post office. Tape all the seams. You do not want any cold air to escape when you add the ice packs.
    5. Fill in the shipping box. Lay a cushioning bubble packaging layer on the bottom of the shipping box. Then, add your bubbled mailer(s) and surround them with packing bubbles.
    6. Insert ice packs. For smaller orders, use one six oz. ice pack and nestle it to the side of your bubbled mailer. For larger orders, add two six oz. ice packs, one to the side of the bubbled mailers and one in-between them.
    7. Seal the shipping box. Add another cushioning layer atop the contents before sealing your shipping box. Seal all the edges to contain the cold.

    How to Ship a Breakable Chocolate Heart

    Breakable chocolate hearts are hollow chocolate hearts filled with candy and sprinkles. They come equipped with mini mallets and make a cute, interactive dessert experience for Valentine’s Day or any time of the year. Given their fragile nature, you must take extra care to make sure your clients don’t receive a shattered heart. They want to do the heartbreaking themselves! Learn how to ship a breakable chocolate heart below:

    1. Pack your breakable chocolate heart in a heart-themed chocolate box. This is where your branding will shine.
    2. Wrap the chocolate box in packing bubbles. The bubble packaging provides the first layer of protection.
    3. Assemble your shipping container. Tape all seals so balmy air doesn’t leak into your box.
    4. Lay air pillows on the bottom of your shipping container. This buffers against rough handling.
    5. Add the chocolate box to the shipping container. Include any notes, details, or promotional flyers at this stage.
    6. Drape packing bubbles over the chocolate box before adding the ice packs. The bubble packaging protects your chocolates from condensation.
    7. Add three ice packs. Place one on top of the chocolate box and the remaining two on its sides.
    8. Leave no space. Fill all remaining areas with packing materials.
    9. Tape the shipping box closed. Seal all the seams to preserve a cool internal temperature.

    How to Create an Unboxing Experience

    A chocolatier’s priority is to have their shipments arrive intact, but a memorable unboxing experience goes a long way to boost brand loyalty. It provides free advertising when customers post their unboxing experience on social media. Here are some tips for creating a chocolate unboxing experience your customers will want to share:

    • Ship your chocolate in branded boxes. Knowing the box is from your chocolate shop as soon as it arrives builds anticipation.
    • Use attractive and sustainable packing materials. Customize your internal materials to create a cohesive aesthetic. If you use sustainable packaging, include an insert that shares this information with your customers. Environmental responsibility can earn respect and boost brand loyalty.
    • Think like a merchandiser. Consider the color scheme of the cushioning materials and how they complement your items. Use dividers to manage your products' placement. Browse the social media hashtags #unboxing and #flatlay for inspiration.
    • Provide free samples. Free samples introduce your clients to your other product lines and encourage repeat business. For example, if your customer ordered a shipment of your chocolate truffles, consider adding a sample of your caramels or toffee.
    • Personalize the package. From handwritten notes to customizable gift packaging, personal touches encourage repeat business.
    • Add Inserts. Insert coupons, new flavor/product promotions, or branded stickers.
    • Mark the package as perishable. This is for the customer, not the carrier! If someone sends your chocolates as a gift, you want the recipient to know they should open the box upon arrival.
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    With the rise of ghost kitchens, you don’t need a storefront to sell gourmet chocolate treats. However, you will need a solid shipping strategy to make sure your goodies arrive intact. Whether your chocolate shop is ramping up its shipping strategy or you want to create a virtual chocolate brand, save this resource to ship your chocolates right.

    Posted in: Holidays | Management & Operation | By Corrinn McCauley
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