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Storage Solutions for the Food and Beverage Industry

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inside view of food and beverage industry warehouse

Storing inventory requires companies to maximise space while minimising loss. In the food and beverage industry, managing expiration dates, SKUs, and climate controls complicate the process.

Creating efficient food storage systems requires close attention to detail. Do it wrong, and you could lose your stock or make someone sick. Understanding your food storage options can assist you tailor a solution to fit your business.

There are three basic types of storage used in the food and beverage industry. They are dry storage, refrigerated storage, and frozen storage. Here’s what you should consider when selecting a storage solution for your business.

Maximising Dry Food Storage 

Dry storage items don’t require climate control. They don’t need refrigeration and are safe to store at room temperature. These are generally packaged goods or non-perishable foods with a long shelf-life. 

Many food ingredients and preserved food items are appropriate for dry storage. That includes canned foods, dehydrated foods, and supplies sold in bulk, like sugar, tea, pasta, rice, and other grains. It also includes products that must be kept dry to avoid spoilage, like potato chips, cereals, and crackers.

Storage in the food and beverage industry requires systems that protect food products from spoilage and contamination. They should ensure proper stock rotation too. A variety of systems can do this while making the most of the storage space available. 

  • Pallet Rack Systems are warehouse systems used by large food and beverage operations. They effectively maximise vertical space. In a pallet rack system, palleted inventory is stored on racks in horizontal rows across multiple levels. 
  • Operating a food storage facility is expensive. That’s especially true for refrigerated facilities, so maximising space is essential. This makes pallet racks especially popular for food storage.
  • Pallet rack systems come in a variety of sizes, shapes, and types. Not all are suitable for food storage. For instance, pallet rack systems for food storage need floor-level beams to keep pallets off the floor. This reduces food contamination while making it easier to clean the food storage area.  
  • Carton or Pallet Flow Systems (also called dynamic racking) save both space and labour. It’s a storage system that works well in the food and beverage industry. That’s because it relies on a backloaded or first in, first out (FIFO) system.
  • Pallets are backloaded onto rails within the racking. The rails tilt toward the pick side of the unit, so gravity keeps the pallets flowing toward the pick side. This results in higher storage density and easier restocking.
  • Pallet flow systems are popular for cool room storage and freezer warehouses. It makes it easier to track fresh food items. And it ensures the oldest produce and other perishable ingredients get used first. 
  • Selective Pallet Racking is a flexible, affordable storage system. It allows quick dispatching and efficient product rotation. It’s designed for warehouses and large food production facilities that use forklifts to move pallets as needed.
  • Storage racks tend to be several levels high but only one pallet deep. That ensures every pallet is accessible for quick picking and easy stock rotation.
  • Mobile Shelving offers more storage using less floor space. The ability to slide storage racks together eliminates most of the walking paths needed for static shelving. That lets you reclaim as much as 70% of your floor space for stock.  
  • You can have mobile units customised to suit your needs. Converting standard RUT shelving to mobile shelving creates a flexible, affordable option. Mobile shelving uses low profile floor track and mechanical drive consoles. This makes mobile shelving a convenient, space-saving food storage solution.
  • Mezzanine Floor Systems maximise usable floor space by creating raised storage areas. Food warehouses, processing facilities, distribution centres, and restaurants can all use mezzanine systems. These storage systems consist of an elevated floor or platform. They create a second level inside the facility.  

Climate-Controlled Storage Solutions

Keeping cold and hot food at appropriate temperatures keeps food safe and prevents spoilage. Temperatures between 5°C and 60°C enable bacteria and other microorganisms to grow. That’s why it’s called the temperature “danger zone.” 

Microorganisms that cause foodborne illnesses, like salmonella and E. coli, can make someone sick and even kill them. Spoilage bacteria cause food to decay, affecting the quality of the food’s flavour, aroma, texture, or appearance. 

The cost and liability of mishandling perishable foods are too great to take lightly. Thus the need for adequate climate-controlled storage in the food and beverage industry.

Cold Food Storage

Many larger refrigerated spaces and cold warehouses use the same pallet rack systems as dry storage facilities. But there are a few special conditions required for cold food storage.

Cold food storage requires proper air circulation to maintain appropriate temperatures. Storage racks or shelves must withstand harsh conditions while maximising floor space.

Smaller storage facilities often use shelving lined with food-grade plastic perforated shelf panels. Some rely on ABS plastic shelves. These plastics can safely come into contact with food. Plus, they are generally freezer and dishwasher safe. That makes them practical and convenient to use.

Frozen Food Storage 

Storing frozen foods requires subfreezing temperatures of -18°C or colder. The exact temperature required depends on the type of food and how long you plan to keep it. In general, lowering the temperature extends the freezer life of most food.

Frozen food warehouses generally use pallet rack storage systems. The most effective options enable easy product rotation, as freezer storage almost always employs a FIFO inventory control process.

Like cold food storage, freezer storage requires good air circulation. Plastic spacers between pallets keep the air circulating and speed up freezing times.

Food storage solutions must be able to withstand the extreme condition of the frozen food storage environment. For this reason, pallet retrievers are often chosen over manual labour or forklifts for moving and rotating inventory.

Hot Food Storage

Cooked food storage requires a consistent temperature above 60°C. For this reason, hot food can’t be stored long-term. Several storage methods can maintain the right temperature. Which you use is dependent on why you need to hold the food. 

Heated holding cabinets keep prepared foods, like entrees and dinner plates hot until serving time. 

Steam tables and food wells keep prepared food hot until you are ready to serve it. They are often employed by caterers and on food buffets.

Strip Warmers keep prepped items and completed meals hot. They heat using infrared elements, which prevents overcooking the food.

Heat lamps, warming drawers, and other short-term methods are also used to keep food at a safe temperature until serving time.

Beverage Storage

Pallet rack systems are some of the most popular types of storage for the beverage industry. Selective racking, carton/pallet racking, keg flow racking, and pushback racking are commonly used. These work to maximise storage space, making them efficient for beverage storage.

Some beverage storage also requires refrigeration or cold warehousing. In those cases, extra attention must be paid to maintaining facility temperature and proper air circulation, just as you would for cold food storage.  

Optimising Your Food Storage System

Whether you operate a warehouse, manufacture food products, or run a restaurant, optimising your food storage system is critical to your success. You need solutions that fit your business. That’s where Bowen Storage can assist.

We’re experts at creating customised storage solutions for the food and beverage industry. Contact us today to get started maximising your space and minimising your stress with a custom food storage solution designed for you.

You may also be interested in reading:

A Guide To Warehouse Optimisation Using Expert Warehouse Consultants

11 Warehouse Trends For 2022 And Beyond

6 Important Reasons for Building Mezzanine Floors

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