How To Sell Perishable Food Online

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In these past few years, more and more people have been choosing to buy their groceries online. More and more people are turning to online shopping because it's easy to do from home and items can be sent right to their door. This trend has opened up a new chance for small businesses and individuals to sell perishable food online.

Selling perishable food online has several benefits, including reaching a wider audience, reducing food waste, and creating new revenue streams. With a growing demand for fresh and organic food, online sales of perishable food items have become an attractive option for small businesses.

There are some challenges with selling perishable food online, such as getting the right packaging and shipping, storing different types of perishable food, and choosing the right e-commerce platform, among other dilemmas. So here are some tips and insights to help small businesses succeed in selling perishable food online.

Challenges of Selling Perishable Food Online

What is perishable food?

Perishable food is a term used to describe any food item that has a limited shelf life and can spoil quickly if not stored properly. This type of food is typically fresh or unprocessed and has a high moisture content. Because of this, perishable food is vulnerable to spoilage and bacterial growth, which can result in foodborne illnesses if consumed.

Dairy products like milk, cheese, and yogurt, which usually need to be kept in the fridge so they don't go bad, are examples of perishable foods.

What makes it challenging to sell perishable food online?

The hardest part of selling food that goes bad quickly online is making sure it gets to the customer in good shape. Factors such as temperature, humidity, and handling during shipping can affect the quality of the food.

There are several risks and regulations associated with selling perishable food online. These include food safety regulations, labeling requirements, and the risk of spoilage during shipping. If these rules aren't followed, the business could be fined, taken to court, or have its reputation hurt.

To mitigate these risks and comply with regulations, businesses can take several steps. These include using proper packaging techniques, shipping methods that are appropriate for perishable food items, and ensuring that the food is stored and handled correctly.

Packaging and Shipping of Perishable Food

To make sure that perishable food items get to the customer's door in good shape, they need to be properly packaged. Some tips for good packaging are to use insulated packaging, like frozen gel packs or dry ice, and to choose the right size for the packaging.

There are several ways to ship perishable food, such as overnight shipping and same-day delivery. Same-day delivery is great for businesses that only do business in a certain area. Overnight shipping is best for products that need to be delivered quickly.

To minimize spoilage during shipping, businesses can take several steps. These include choosing the right way to ship the food, making sure it is properly packaged, and using temperature monitoring devices to make sure the food stays at the right temperature while it is being shipped. If you want to learn more, we have a guide for shipping fresh produce ready for you!

Types of Perishable Food and How to Store Each

Dairy products

Dairy products such as milk, cheese, and yogurt should be stored at a temperature between 33 and 40 degrees Fahrenheit. These products should be stored in the refrigerator and should be consumed before the expiration date.

Meat and poultry

Meat and poultry should be stored at a temperature between 32 and 40 degrees Fahrenheit. It is recommended to store meat and poultry in the coldest part of the refrigerator and to use it within a few days of purchase.


Seafood should be stored at a temperature between 32 and 38 degrees Fahrenheit. Fresh fish should be kept refrigerated and eaten within two days of purchase. Shellfish such as clams and mussels should be stored in a mesh bag in the refrigerator.

Fruits and vegetables

Fruits and vegetables should be stored at the appropriate temperature and humidity level to ensure that they remain fresh. Leafy greens, for example, should be stored at a temperature between 32 and 36 degrees Fahrenheit, while tomatoes and cucumbers should be stored at a temperature between 55 and 60 degrees Fahrenheit.

Baked goods and desserts

Baked goods and desserts should be stored in a cool, dry place to prevent them from becoming stale. It is recommended to store these items in airtight containers to preserve their freshness.

Other perishable food items

Other perishable food items, such as eggs and deli meats should be stored at the appropriate temperature and consumed before their expiration date.

How to store each type of food to maximize freshness and shelf life

Perishable foods need to be kept at the right temperature and humidity level to stay as fresh as possible and last as long as possible. Businesses can also make perishable food last longer by vacuum sealing it and using other preservation methods.

Choosing the Right Platform

There are several e-commerce platforms available for businesses that want to sell perishable food online. These platforms include Shopify, WooCommerce, and Magento. Each platform has its own pros and cons, and businesses should think about what they need from a platform when choosing one.

Businesses should think about things like the platform's ability to handle perishable food items, the platform's payment options, and the platform's customer support when choosing a platform to sell perishable food.

Some popular e-commerce platforms for selling perishable food online include FreshDirect, Thrive Market, and ButcherBox. These platforms focus on selling fresh, organic food items and give businesses a number of ways to do so.  Another good option, of course, is also our own very platform at Foraged, where you can sell perishable specialized foods.

Keep A Sales Pipeline Going

Keeping a sales pipeline going is essential for any business, but it is especially important for businesses that sell perishable food online. Perishable food items have a limited shelf life, and businesses need to continuously sell their products to avoid spoilage and waste. Here are some tips for keeping a sales pipeline going when selling perishable food online:

  • Continuously promote your products: Businesses should use various marketing channels to promote their products, such as social media, email marketing, and paid advertising. They should also consider partnering with influencers or bloggers who can help promote their products to a wider audience.

  • Engage with customers: Engaging with customers is an important part of building a loyal customer base. Businesses should respond to customer inquiries promptly and address any issues that arise. They should also consider offering promotions or discounts to loyal customers to incentivize repeat purchases.

  • Seek out new opportunities for growth: Businesses should always be on the lookout for new opportunities for growth. This may include expanding their product line, targeting new customer segments, or partnering with other businesses to offer bundled products or services.

  • Stay up to date on industry trends: The e-commerce industry is constantly evolving, and businesses need to stay up to date on the latest trends and best practices. They should attend industry events, read industry publications, and network with other e-commerce professionals to stay informed.

Closing Considerations

Small businesses can make money by selling perishable food online, but this comes with its own set of challenges. Proper packaging and shipping techniques, understanding how to store different types of perishable food, and choosing the right e-commerce platform are all important factors to consider.

Businesses that want to sell perishable food online should focus on making sure they have high-quality products, great customer service, and unique selling points. By staying up to date on regulations and best practices, businesses can mitigate the risks associated with selling perishable food online and build a successful e-commerce business.

With the growing demand for fresh, organic food, there has never been a better time to start selling perishable food online. By following best practices and staying up to date on regulations, businesses can successfully tap into this lucrative market and build a thriving e-commerce business.

At Foraged, we’re on a mission to empower small-scale food purveyors to grow healthy, sustainable businesses while nourishing everyday people by providing easy access to unique foods.

By supporting Foraged vendors, you're helping to build a better, more sustainable food system for everyone.

Plus, we're committed to doing things the right way - our platform puts the power back in the knowledgeable hands of those who grow, harvest, and create foods most responsibly. 

And we don't just stop there, we also want to make sure you know how to cook and preserve the specialty foods you source from Foraged, which is why we provide educational resources and delicious recipes for you to try.

Did you learn a lot from this post about selling perishable food online?

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