Published December 26, 2012 by
Why is citrus fruit such an excellent gift idea? This is the best way to send a little bit of sunshine, a touch of summer, to someone who may be buried under a foot of snow or looking out on a gray, rainy day. Your gift will not only be appreciated – it will be enjoyed! Purchasing and shipping pre-made fruit baskets or arrangements can be pricy, especially if you fill in the gaps with some gourmet goodies. If you make your own, you can save money, but will your package arrive fresh and ready to be eaten or spoiled and bruised? Whether it's a celebratory gift, or a sympathy fruit basket, here are some pointers for preparing citrus fruits for mail shipment.
Citrus fruits, like oranges, grapefruits, lemons, limes, kumquats, and ugli fruit, are a bit easier to ship than fruits like berries or grapes. They have a built-in layer of protection – their rinds – that keeps them from getting squashed and bruised easily. To add a little more protection, after you have arranged your fruit basket, wrap it tightly in plastic wrap and secure this with tape. This will keep the fruit from spilling out of the basket. Wrap the wrapped fruit one more time; this time, use bubble wrap to protect the fruit from being bruised. It won’t look as pretty upon arrival, but once your recipient unwraps the fruit, it will be as beautiful as if it were just picked from a citrus grove.
Find a box that will fit your wrapped arrangement and put a layer or two of packing peanuts on the bottom. If you prefer not to buy packing peanuts, you can shred up some paper and put it into plastic bags or use air bags or more bubble wrap. The peanut isn’t the important factor: the weight-free protection is. Put your fruit into the box, and stuff your packing material around it to make sure it will not move during shipping. Close the box and give it a little shake. It shouldn’t cause the fruit basket to shake. It you can hear it moving, add more packing material to secure it. Tape the lid closed.
When you’ve addressed it, it’s ready to be shipped. You can use the US Postal Service, UPS, FedEx, or DHL, each of which has its benefits. The USPS offers exceptional prices, but they are known to lag behind on delivery times. You need your fruit to arrive on time so it does not spoil. ConsumerSearch named the Post Office as the best package carrier for “non-critical” items. If you do prefer to send USPS, choose Express Mail. This is how perishables are shipped, and most packages are guaranteed to be delivered the next day.
If you’re on a deadline, you may want to go with FedEx, which was named the most reliable overnight delivery company. UPS is excellent for ground service, and they offer an on-time delivery guarantee for every package (except those mailed during the holiday season).
Note: Remember that you can send fruit from state to state, but you cannot send it out of the country.
How much does it cost to ship fruit? Let’s say we have a package of fruit that weighs 10 pounds. It needs to travel from California to Virginia by the next day. If we drop it off in LA before the Post Office closes, it should arrive in Virginia by 3pm. This will cost $73.30. Wow! If you pay online on the USPS website, it costs $57.98. That’s a bit better, especially considering the distance that citrus fruit is traveling.
UPS Next Day Air costs about $150; Next Day is about $115; Next Day Air Saver (received by 4:30pm) is $106; and 2 Day Air is about $70. FedEx charges $114 for Priority Overnight; $106 for Standard Overnight; $80 for 2Day AM; and $70 for 2Day.
If you buy very fresh fruit baskets, you may be able to save some money and get 2 day shipping; fresher is better, but it is also more expensive. You also save money, remember, by making your own basket in the first place. Giving the gift of fresh fruit and sunshine, though, is priceless.