Overnight Shipping of Meals

by Mr. Cheap

Often a big part of home is the food you eat.  I’ve read that people from Thailand often don’t do well when they move to another country, in part because food is such an important part of Thai life and they really miss it.  Pad Thai is one of my favourite meals, so I can understand that you’d miss Thai food if you grew up on it (I miss it if I haven’t had it in a while, and I was well into my 20’s the first time I tried it).  It’s almost a cliché that many first year university students will be homesick, missing something that their mother would regularly make.

Years ago a friend of mine was really missing a dish that her mother made.  She mentioned this on the phone one time, and her mother said she was going to make a tray of it and send it overnight through FedEx.  Of course, the parcel got delayed and arrived 7 days later (and was inedible and pretty nasty once it was opened).

The basic idea for this wacky business idea is to provide worldwide express shipping for food (prepared dishes).  The target customer will be someone who wants to get a special meal to a loved one (this isn’t for standard catering) and is willing to pay a large premium to get the dish there.

When the food is shipped, the sender will have to provide details on what it is, and agree to a method of packaging (with options for keeping it at specific conditions, such as below freezing or vacuum sealed, during the trip).  There could be an optional add-on where the food would be delivered at a precise location at a precise time and would have some final preparation (such as heating) performed en route.  The sender and receiver would have to take full responsibility for spoiled food (since nothing would prevent someone from sending something that was already spoiled), but every reasonable precaution would be taken to prevent this from happening.

FedEx does do specialty shipping, but since this includes things like hazardous materials I suspect it’s VERY expensive.  This seems to imply that they have the facilities to do this, and perhaps a company could be set up re-selling their services (after getting a big discount based on the volume your business will do as a whole).  Dealing with the customers would be one of the biggest challenges (every shipment will be quite unique), which might be a reason why FedEx doesn’t get into this line of shipping (and someone specializing in it might be able to make it work).  Purolator also ships food, but they don’t offer a service guarantee, which is part of the value proposition of this business.

Obviously this isn’t something you’d use regularly (only the very wealthy would send their kids every Sunday dinner through this service), but this would be for the odd time when it’s worth paying more than a decent restaurant meal to have a taste of home.

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