For many people, there is no greater gift than chocolate. And not surprisingly, Easter is an especially popular time to send chocolatey treats to family and friends.
But can you send chocolate via courier? And will it keep in transit?
Is your chocolate perishable?
Perishable foodstuffs are prohibited by most parcel couriers, at least when using non-specialised services.
Perishable foods are those that are likely to spoil or rot if they are not kept refrigerated or frozen. Typical examples include fresh meat, poultry, fish and dairy products such as cheese.
Non-perishable foods are those that have a long shelf-life; for example, crackers, peanut butter, canned fruit or canned meat. These can normally be sent via courier.
Chocolate, or chocolate-based products, are perishable if they need to be refrigerated in order not to spoil. However, a chocolate bar, a box of chocolates or an Easter egg would be considered non-perishable if they can normally be stored somewhere cool and dry such as a cupboard.
Will chocolate melt in transit?
While solid chocolate may not strictly be considered perishable, it can turn chalky in warm storage conditions (due to changes in the fat or sugar content), and will melt at temperatures of around 25-30 degrees Celsius, though this varies depending on the type.
If you choose to send chocolate via courier, you should be aware that cardboard boxes are not temperature-controlled. This may be an issue particularly if you are sending to or from a hot or tropical country.
To help keep your chocolate cool, use styrofoam coolers, which can be placed inside your box, and wrap the chocolate in aluminium foil. You can also use cool packs or ice packs (but not dry ice) which can help for a limited time. Also refrigerate the chocolate for as long as possible before transit.
It may be worth using an express service to shorten the transit time. Depending on the climate of the country you’re sending to, you may also find that only certain times of the year are suitable for sending chocolate; e.g. the cooler winter months.
Are there any customs issues with chocolate?
There are usually no problems sending non-perishable chocolate to most countries – but you should always check the specific customs regulations for your destination country before sending.
You may also need to be aware of restrictions that don’t apply to chocolate per se. For example, Kinder eggs are banned in the USA because they do not allow toys embedded in confectionary.
For most chocolatey treats, however, including Easter eggs, there’s no reason you can’t use a parcel courier.