With the country hitting the pandemic, there has been an acceleration in eCommerce. eCommerce has become an integral part of the customer experience worldwide. Retail sales in 2021 were 18 percent, which could rise to 22 percent by 2023.
Moreover, online grocery sales grew by 54% in 2020, contributing 12% to US eCommerce sales and 7.4% of all grocery sales. An increase in the volume of food and beverage online orders also increases the need for high-quality food warehouses and fulfillment partners.
Let us learn in detail the meaning and importance of Food Warehousing for the food industry.
Table of Content
What is Food Warehousing?
Food warehousing means storing food before being sold or distributed around. Operating a food warehouse may require experience, expertise, and effort. They should focus on maintaining proper health & sanitation to protect the food.
One of the biggest challenges food warehouses face is beating the time because there is a food expiration date in the picture. Also, dairy and frozen products may get spoiled if kept at the wrong temperature for too long.
Why it is Important?
As we now know what food warehousing is, let us check what its importance is:
- Warehousing allows optimized distribution and timely delivery
- Proper food storage helps to minimize the risk of food spoilage
- The warehouse works with maximum efficiency resulting in better customer satisfaction
- It helps to preserve the quality and nutritional value of the foods
- Food-grade storage prevents foodborne illness caused by harmful bacteria
- Warehousing reduces the chances of errors and damage in the order fulfillment process
Essential Food Warehousing Requirements
Below are the certain requirements for food warehousing:
- Running a food warehouse may require some certifications, operating procedures, and ethical organizational culture. These certificates will ensure food safety standards throughout the industry.
- Before any food warehousing company operates, it must register with the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). This registration is the responsibility of the owner or the managing member. Registering with the FDA will be subjected to annual inspections and required to follow the principles of food-grade storage.
- The warehouse should hold a state license and also adhere to guidelines of the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA).
Main Elements of Food Warehousing
Here are the main elements of food warehousing that you should know :
1. Distribution centres
Proper planning of space within a warehouse and positioning items helps to improve efficiency. It adds to significant time and financial savings. The space planning should include inbound receiving bays, storage areas, parking spaces, and outbound loading docks.
2. Receive incoming shipments
Warehouse receiving is the first step in eCommerce fulfillment. It involves delivering, unloading, and storing products in a warehouse. Receiving incoming shipments includes inspecting the condition, quality, and quantity of any incoming goods and allocating them to a space in the warehouse.
Also, make sure that the packaging should be intact and clean to prevent it from being contaminated. Delivered products should be labeled correctly and contain the proper documentation.
3. Inventory management
An easy-to-use and robust warehouse management system is the best way to track all the activities within a warehouse. This software allows visibility into the entire inventory and manages supply chain fulfillment operations from distribution centers to the store shelf. Small businesses often use a logbook to keep track of inventory.
For example, inventory management software can track the flow in and out of items from the warehouse. It can also find the current inventory status and plan accordingly for future requirements.
4. Storage of food products
After receiving and processing products, the next thing to do is store them. It involves putting them in bins and pallets and transporting them to appropriate storage space. Appropriate storage maintains both the quality and nutritional value of the food.
There are three types of food storage options at warehouses:
- Dry storage refers to storing of items that do not require a controlled temperature
- Refrigerated storage requires a cool but not freezing temperature
- Frozen storage means keeping products at a freezing temperature
5. Maintain required temperature
Depending on the nature of the products, it is essential to store the foods at an appropriate temperature. It can include the humidity, temperature, and pressure required to keep particular food products.
Controlled temperature for specific food items ensures maintenance of the quality of food and prevents it from spoilage.
When the new products arrive at the warehouse, the existing inventories need reorganization to ensure that the warehouse space gets utilized efficiently. Any event of changes needs to be tracked and updated in the warehouse management system.
7. Pick-up and dispatch
Lastly, when the product is ready for pick-up or shipment, the warehouse staff must retrieve, process, pack, and load it for release. It will help to make space for the new inbound products in the inventory.
What are the Best Practices to Be Followed for Food Warehousing?
Practices to be followed by Food Grade warehousing are mentioned below:
1. Proper hygiene and sanitation
The rules governing hygiene and sanitation include the activities of employees and the warehouse facility. Food grade warehouse prevents cross-contamination that can cause food allergens, pathogens, and illnesses.
It is mainly for raw goods such as fruits and vegetables. Every person working at a food storage warehouse must wash their hands thoroughly.
Also, training employees in quality awareness, incident & crisis management, food safety, and personal hygiene is a must.
2. Timely pest control
A warehouse management system is not a leisurely cup of tea. A food safety plan can prevent indoor and outdoor contamination. Timely pest control can help prevent dry foods like rice and grain from getting contaminated.
For example, routine surveys of the warehouse building can help to identify points of entry for rodents, insects, and other animals. Once these openings get located, they must be sealed or closed. Also, some controlled substances in the warehouse will prevent these animals from entering the premises.
3. Temperature process controls
Periodic monitoring of the environmental conditions of the warehouse prevents stored or frozen items from getting contaminated or spoiled. Appropriate training for all the employees can help to tackle this problem if found.
General guidelines for the temperature of food stored in a warehouse:
- The minimum temperature for frozen items should be 0° F.
- The temperature required for storing chilled or refrigeration products should be between 34° to 39° F.
- Dry storage products need temperatures between 50° and 70°F.
NOTE: The humidity level for dry storage should not be greater than 15%, and eatables should not be kept in direct sunlight.
4. Keeping record of the lots
A warehouse must have an inventory management system to trace the product lots and dates following the First-In-First-Out method.
In this method, the first unit loaded on the rack is the first to leave. This slotting and retrieval method ensures that perishable products with an early expiry date are dispatched soon.
Some Benefits of Automating Food Warehousing
There is an increasing demand for automated solutions for warehousing by suppliers and customers. It is required to fulfill logistics needs and manage stocks efficiently.
Below are some advantages of automating food warehousing:
1. Accuracy in stock management
The automation will help to manage the inventory more accurately. Inventory accuracy calculates the difference between your stock records and actual physical inventory.
It will give you a better understanding of your business and how many products you need to meet customer demands. Also, it will prevent your business from running out of items at any time.
Any business needs to keep inventory accurate to keep the supply chain and distribution process smooth. Warehouse management software and automated storage prevents handling errors and ensures product traceability and company response time.
2. Rapid transportation of goods
Swiftness refers to the company’s ability to adjust its working strategy regarding procurement and inventory management. An automated solution will enable the uninterrupted flow of products between different warehouse areas.
It aims to meet customer demand despite fluctuations in order volume at any given time. Some of the features of a swift supply chain are:
- Demand forecasting & management
- End-to-end collaboration
- Responsive systems and analytics
- Risk management
- Process ownership
3. Optimization of storage space
Space optimization in a warehouse is when the layout allows for smooth picking, packing, and shipping of orders. Automated space optimization will help to identify compact spaces and store more goods in the smallest area possible.
To improve warehouse operations, consider the below points:
- Optimize the space available in the warehouse
- Adopt new technologies
- Organize your workstations
- Optimize labor efficiency
4. Increased efficiency and reduced manual labor
The automation of food warehouses with advanced technologies has boosted the production of the industry. Additionally, it has also made it more efficient to identify potential issues and resolve them.
Automation has also reduced manual labor work like inspection of machinery, or assigning tasks. With minimal human labor, the chances of human error are also reduced.
Following the benefits of automating food warehousing, let us know how Upper can help ease the work for the food industry.
Streamline Your Food Deliveries with Upper
Food delivery, being a part of food warehousing, needs proper management to provide a better customer experience. Upper Route Planner is software that helps to plan and optimize delivery routes efficiently.
The delivery process is automated with features like route planning, assigning drivers, route scheduling, and proof of delivery. Directly import your Excel file to the route planner for generating a route plan and find the optimized routes within seconds. Let Upper give you a 360-view of the entire process in such a way that there would be no communication gaps.
An advanced route planner helps you schedule multi-stop deliveries in advance for months. It reduces the time and effort required to provide excellent food delivery experiences to customers.
It also sends customized delivery notifications to your clients regarding the estimated time of arrival. These essential features help them to make themselves available at the actual delivery time.
You can use a 7-day free trial to ease your delivery operations and focus on business goals.
Utilize Upper for Cost-effective Routes
Automize your route planning tasks and find efficient routes with Upper. Dispatch your food deliveries using a fully automated process. Experience it now!
Warehouse operations are a part of the food supply chain that provides storage, processing, and other functions. It means storing products before they are sold or distributed around.
Proper hygiene and sanitation should be taken care of while storing food in a warehouse.
Warehouses have different methods for storing food products, from dry to freezer storage. It all depends on what food is stored.
The four types of warehousing are:
- Public warehouse
- Private warehouse
- Co-operative warehouses
- Distribution centers
Warehousing makes it easier to receive, store and distribute goods from a central location. This helps to reduce transportation costs and increase the value of goods.
Warehouse management of food products holds a higher risk as compared to non-consumable products. When it comes to managing the food supply chain, it’s better to use advanced route optimization software. This will ensure both food storage and food safety for businesses.
However, poor management and avoiding safety practices can put the business dead leading to possible criminal charges.
Additionally, Upper can also be used for scheduling food deliveries in advance. Scheduling will help to save a lot of time and reduce the rate of human errors. As a result, the delivery process will get simplified with limited resources for a better customer experience. You can connect with Upper for a free demo to learn more about its benefits.