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What is Food Grade Warehousing

Warehousing and distribution are key parts of every supply chain. When it comes to food-related products, there are much more stringent and regulated processes and requirements to consider. For this reason, partnering with a food grade warehouse is vital to not only your success as a food industry distributor, producer, manufacturer, or retailer.  

As mentioned, food grade supply chains have strict requirements to ensure food safety and efficient storage and distribution processes. While products like clothing or toys have a complex journey for the consumer, food products often have even more steps. Food grade warehousing is a huge part of the supply chain and food safety is paramount for food industry companies and consumers. 

While there are many requirements for food grade warehousing, established and proven companies such as Murphy Logistics have the experience and expertise to safely and successfully store and deliver all types of food products.

Below you will find some of the most important information to understand if you work in, or are considering beginning to work, in a food-related industry.

Food Grade Warehousing

Types of Food Products

First, we should better understand the different types of products that make up food grade warehousing and logistics. Knowing the difference between these categories will help you better determine what food grade logistics partner to work with. Because of the nature of food products, most of these items will require temperature control and careful regulation. They may also require extra controls over the storage environment, such as humidity and pest control.

Finished Food Products

Finished foods are goods that have been manufactured, packaged, and are ready for the shelves of a grocery store or to be shipped directly to consumers. Simply put, finished food products are items that have gone through the entire manufacturing process but have not yet been sold to a final consumer. These items often need a place to be stored until they are needed at the retailer. Having enough inventory on hand, but not too much, is a key part of success.

Food Ingredients

Food ingredients are any item that goes into finished foods during the manufacturing process. Any substance that is added to food in order to produce a desired outcome is considered an ingredient. Food additives, which are compounds added to food for particular technical and/or functional goals during processing, storage, or packaging, are included under the phrase food ingredients. Food ingredients come in various packaging options and are typically stored on pallets. Food ingredient logistics calls for the transportation and storage of products by experienced teams that know how to safely handle them.

Fresh Food

Fresh food has a different set of requirements and shelf life than food ingredients or finished goods. Fresh foods will typically have less packaging and sometimes need to be refrigerated or frozen. Special frigerated or freezer rooms house products in clean, safe environments. Caution must be taken to ensure there is no cross-contamination from the different items being stored in food grade warehouses, so working with a trusted company is important.

Organic Food

Organic food comes in various forms from fresh to packaged. The terms “organic food,” “ecological food,” and “biologic food” refers to foods and beverages made using practices that adhere to the norms of organic farming. Although standards differ from country to country, organic farming includes techniques that recycle resources, advance ecological balance, and protect biodiversity. Organic food storage has extra requirements to keep it from cross-contamination with non-organic food. Extra certifications are required for a warehouse to handle organic food.

Food Grade Storage

With the different types of food all having unique requirements, an experienced warehouse team is a must to ensure efficiency and food safety. A food-grade warehouse is a customized facility that offers room for ambient, refrigerated, and frozen storage of food goods. 

Warehouses that handle food must be vigilant about food safety and efficiency, in order to keep up with the specialized distribution demands. Finding a strong team to work with is important to ensure that your food supply chain stays running at peak performance. When looking for a food grade storage facility it is important to visit, meet with the team, review certifications, and learn about the warehouse’s inventory management systems.

Food Certifications

To operate in food grade warehousing, facilities must have special certifications that prove that they provide a safe environment for food storage. The purpose of food storage warehouse standards is to shield the general public from consuming tainted food and beverages. Every business that produces, processes, or stores food or drinks are required to register with the FDA, submit to inspections every three years, and agree to adhere to a set of rules. Food-grade warehouses go through third-party audits with requirements such as quality tests, pest control, and even minute details like moisture and temperature monitoring. 

One of the most common food certifications is Safe Quality Food (SQF) which is monitored by the FDA/USDA. Some private companies will accept food certifications in lieu of their own audits, while other companies go through a strict audit process to work with any third-party warehouse for food storage.

Because of the seriousness of safety in food handling, all of the food grade warehousing facilities at Murphy Logistics are FDA/USDA certified. For our clients’ benefit, Murphy complies with all USDA, FDA, and HACCP regulations for safe food grade storage.

Food Logistics

Food logistics and food grade warehousing require great care and attention to detail. Food distribution can vary and may include options for handling food products from the manufacturer to a storage warehouse, as well as end-delivery of products to retailer warehouses, distribution centers, or even grocery stores. Other distribution processes include shipping food ingredients to manufacturing facilities to be finished. Distribution for food products is typically done in full pallet quantities, however, case pick and single item pick projects can be common as well.

Choosing a Food Grade Warehousing Partner

By 2025, the food and beverage warehousing market is expected to increase by $211 billion. Selecting a food grade warehousing partner is a key step for any food industry business. By now we hope you understand that to ensure you choose the best provider for your company while looking for food grade warehousing, there are a number of factors that are crucial to examine. To help make the decision easier, you may consider several questions while evaluating a food grade warehousing partner. Some of these may include;

  • Are your goods able to be moved swiftly and effectively in the warehouse?
  • What state is the facility in? Are there any wall or window cracks or holes? How are the humidity and temperature controls in general?
  • Does the warehouse have a pest control strategy that includes risk reduction and steps for dealing with an infestation or outbreak of pests?
  • Is the building clean and organized? Do you notice any signs of fungus or germs anywhere in the building?
  • How is the communication between you and the team at the food grade warehouse?

With these answers, you will be ready to shorten your list or make a final decision about who to work with for your food logistics. You should look at a possible food grade warehousing provider’s general capabilities, certifications, standards, processes, and track record of experience managing food grade products for others. It may also make perfect sense to see the facility in order to directly assess how strictly the rules are followed and to feel at ease with the provider.

If you are looking to learn more about food grade storage facilities, reach out to Murphy’s team of food warehousing and logistics experts with questions. We operate numerous food-grade facilities throughout Minnesota and Missouri and have the experience and professionalism to take care of your needs.