4 Foodstuffs That (Surprisingly) Need Temperature Controlled Packaging

Foods that need temp controlled packaging

If you think you don’t need to worry about buying refrigerated or protective packaging for these 4 foodstuffs, think again. We may not associate tomatoes or potatoes with being kept in the fridge, but actually they need to be kept at specific temps during transport for optimum storage and shelf life – read on to find out why….


Tomatoes may not seem likely candidates to require temperature controlled packaging, but they do need to be kept between specific temp ranges to maintain their freshness, and, as with any fresh foodstuffs, can’t be kept packaged too long. Tomatoes are quite hardy in that they can go up to 14 days in transit providing the temperature is kept at a constant, but do need a lot of protection as they split easily, making the environment around them damp and spoiling other tomatoes in the batch.

The optimum temperature for tomatoes to be transported at varies between 8-14°C depending on the duration of storage; the lower the temp, the shorter the max duration should be. Green, unripe tomatoes need to be kept warmer than ripe red ones (between 12.8-14°C), and “pink” tomatoes (in the middle of the two) should be kept between 10-11°C.

For protection, tomatoes do need to be transported in something like a polystyrene box that will give them that extra padding for the journey; these also have excellent thermal protection and are watertight, reducing any damp issues from outside the container.


Cherries may seem like hardy little fruits but actually they spoil quite easily as their skin is a lot more delicate than it looks!

Once harvested, cherries are sorted into two categories; those that need to be sold quickly, and those that are more suited for transport over longer distances. Only cherries with a firm outer flesh are deemed suitable (white hearted cherries are typically best for transport as they have the firmest skin); the other cherries are those chosen to be tinned, frozen or processed into foodstuffs before sale.

The cherries that are suitable for transport and sale as they need to be packaged appropriately in temperature controlled conditions; the optimum temp for cherries is between 1-1 – 2.2°C and obviously in packaging that will give protection to the cherry as a whole. Well perforated fruit crates or cartons are best for transporting cherries in bulk, although smaller orders can be transported in protective packaging such as an insulated shipping system which maintains the inside temperature.


We don’t have to keep cucumbers in the fridge so why then do they need refrigerated packaging during transit? Keeping them at a cooler temperature than room temp or outside temp lengthens their lifespan, keeping them firmer and slowing down the ripening process, that’s why. Cucumbers to be sold for individual sale are also often wrapped in gas-permeable plastic film before transit, which also extends storage and transit life.

The optimum temperature for cucumbers to be transported at is 10-12°C, but no lower than 7°C as they suffer “chill damage” very easily; this leads to soft spots on the skin which them permeates to the lower layer and quickly spreads throughout the cucumber. Temperatures above 12°C also reduce the storage life, as the cucumbers will ripen rapidly and turn yellow, which means they are overripe and not usable.

Cucumbers are transported in bulk in strong cartons with perforated sides, often with a plastic film lining. For smaller orders to be sent via a courier or postal operator then packaging with strong sides needs to be used (such as an insulated shipping system set up for chilled delivery), or an insulated cool bag would also be suitable for over the counter orders where the customer is taking the cucumber away themselves.


Potatoes, like cucumbers, are best kept at home in a dark place at room temp; we certainly don’t keep them in the fridge, but they do need to be transported in well padded, refrigerated packaging. This is because they bruise easily (they have a high-water content) and also will keep longer if they are kept cooler – up to 10 months in storage if kept between 4-6°C! Given potatoes are picked and transported in mass bulk, this is a definite plus point.

For retailers who are selling smaller orders of potatoes, the most important point is the protection of the packaging; bruised potatoes have hidden black spots inside, which means some of the potato is not usable. Polystyrene boxes or insulated shipping systems are perfect for using to ship potatoes via a courier, or an insulated cool bag if customers intend to buy over the counter.

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