How to keep things cool

We use dry ice to keep your frozen orders cold as FedEx carries it to your door. But did you know that the country is experiencing a national dry ice shortage? It has only been recently that we’ve paid any attention to the national dry ice market and for many of us around the country it has reached national news. Why? Dry ice is used to keep vaccines cold while they are shipped to hospitals. And vaccines are a hot topic these days:)

But why the shortage all of a sudden? Like most things that hit the news, it only seems sudden because it’s the first time you’ve heard of it, and in reality it is a situation that has been building for a long time. The same is true with dry ice. Dry ice is carbon dioxide (CO2), which at temperatures and pressures we are familiar with exists as a gas. As a gas it is has many uses, the most common of which is the dissolution into beverages like soda and beer! However, for our purposes we employ the solid form of CO2. So how do you turn a gas into a solid? Simplifying things greatly, basically to make dry ice the manufacturer subjects CO2 to the right combination of pressure and temperature to create liquid CO2. Then the pressure is reduced and the liquid turns to CO2 “snow” which can then be packed and formed into various shapes. We use dry ice pellets in bags to keep the boxed orders frozen.

So when you read about a dry ice shortage, it is really a CO2 shortage. And where does CO2 come from? Well, there’s tons of it in our atmosphere, but being human, it’s never that simple. Commercially CO2 is a byproduct of Ethanol production, which in turn is the process of taking grain (mostly corn) and fermenting it to create ethanol, which we in turn add to our gasoline to fuel our cars. Not surprisingly, as we have all shifted our life styles to less travel, we are consuming less fuel, and therefore less ethanol. There are also other supply chain factors that have slowed the delivery and production of CO2.

And then there’s the demand for dry ice. As you can imagine there has been a boom in food businesses pivoting to online sales and using dry ice to keep things cold…ourselves included:) But the big driver has been pharmaceutical companies researching Coronavirus vaccines and other health care services using dry ice to ship lab samples around the country. So, mix supply storage of the raw material, with high demand and we’ve arrived at today.

To read more about recent dry ice shortages check out this recent article from WBUR.

We have felt the affects of this shortage first hand. We have had a number of times where we could not get our dry ice on time, or it was not delivered at all! This past week was an example, and I apologize to all the folks who were expecting a delivery this week and have been kind enough to wait until next week!

To address this problem we’re going to try a few things:

  1. I’ve had a long chat with our dry ice supplier and we’re going to move to a once per month delivery of dry ice. This will allow them to guarantee supply and delivery of the dry ice. This also means that we’ll only have access to dry ice every 2nd Monday of the month.
  2. As we enter the colder months of the year, we know many folks who have great luck shipping using gel packs. This only works for a 1 day transit time, but we have many customers who are within that transit window and we are looking into using these to ship more regularly to folks within a 1 day transit area. Stay tuned for more information and a chance to help us test this new system!

In other news…

For those of you who placed an order last week, we have confirmed that dry ice will be delivered this coming Monday and FedEx is operating on Columbus day. So orders will ship on Monday and be delivered Tuesday and Wednesday.

If you have not yet placed an order, we will be shipping tomorrow, so get your order in tonight before midnight to have your order delivered on Tuesday or Wednesday!

We have lots of our delicious 100% grassfed beef back in stock. Check out our Beef Sampler to try a taste of some of our favorite beef cuts. Haven’t put the grill away for the season? Try Neil’s Griller Special with tons of great steaks and burger to throw on the grill. Or looking to stock up get our 1/8 Beef 35lb Box.

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