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In food supply logistics, sanitation and timely delivery are key. Numerous national and international regulations govern how food must be stored. The specific requirements that your warehouse needs to follow are based on the products that will be stored there (dry, canned, fresh, refrigerated or frozen goods). Understanding these conditions is critical to ensure that there are no food safety gaps in your supply chain. 

The demands of food and grocery fulfillment are some of the most challenging of any industry. Meeting the basic requirements of keeping products fresh and living up to consumers’ impeccable expectations means having a food third-party logistics partner that is nimble and adaptable. 

With an internal team dedicated to monitoring changing food industry regulations and requirements, FLEX Logistics understands the requirements for food-grade storage and distribution. We offer fully customized services that can fit right into your systems and improve your ability to serve your customer base. 

How FLEX Logistics Handles Food Warehousing and Distribution

Government regulations and strict storage requirements magnify the challenge of warehousing and distribution for food products, food packaging and ingredients. All organizations that process and store food and beverage products are required to register with the FDA and follow a variety of other requirements. We take great care to follow these regulations and ensure that our food grade warehouses are always exceptionally clean and well maintained to prevent any cross contamination.

Food makers and suppliers, from nutrition bars to olive oil, have trusted FLEX to handle their food logistics economically while adhering to all regulatory requirements. Our food-grade warehouse in the Los Angeles region is regularly audited and inspected by the American Institute of Baking (AIB), and our facility is registered with the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).  Whether your food logistics needs require lot controlled inventory management, special or routine product inspections, or production of special documentation for shipping, FLEX has the solution to keep your operations in compliance.

Food Grade Warehousing Requirements

For good reason, food storage warehouse standards are designed to protect the public from being exposed to contaminated food and beverages. All companies that manufacture, process or store food and beverages must register with the FDA, undergo an inspection every three years and agree to follow certain standards. In addition to the inspections, companies must have written plans in place that include steps to follow in case of contamination and prevention strategies that all employees must be trained on. 

Dry, frozen, and refrigerated products may experience various hazards different from those that affect fresh or perishable goods. While there are numerous requirements to maintain safety — especially localized state regulations — here are several key conditions that you should be aware of for your warehouse operations.

  • Sanitation and Hygiene

This requirement is extremely important for goods that are handled and consumed more often in the raw state, such as vegetables and fruits. Sanitation and hygiene regulations focus on the warehouse facility and its employees, emphasizing best practices to prevent the spread of food allergens through cross-contamination, environmental pathogens and employee illnesses.

  • Pest Control

While pest control can impact all types of goods, it can be an especially difficult problem for dry foods such as grain and rice. The warehouse must develop a plan to address indoor and outdoor pests in order to prevent contamination. 

  • Temperature Process Controls

There are also requirements that are specific to frozen and stored food. Warehouse managers need to maintain the correct temperature in their facilities to prevent spoilage, as well as address fungus and mold growth in wet settings. Environmental conditions should be monitored periodically, and food inspected for potential issues. 

5 Must-Haves for 3PL Food Warehousing

Food products that need storage in temperature-controlled food warehouses call for specialized 3PLs who understand the physical and regulatory requirements for these products.  

When searching for a 3PL for food warehousing, here are 5 things you should look for to ensure you have the right partner:

  1. 1. Superior Cleanliness

Your food warehousing provider should demonstrate clear evidence of consistent superior ratings for cleanliness.  Evidence of pest infestations can cost you big money if product must be discarded. Every time a pest control company visits, finds something, or applies something, that activity is logged.  Many facilities look clean during a walk-around so you will want to review the records to be sure that the cleanliness is not only superficial.

  1. Maintaining Product Integrity

This is one of the biggest food warehousing issues. If the quality of your product depends on maintaining a consistent temperature and humidity, look for a warehousing partner that offers sophisticated temperature monitoring devices — in the warehouse, on docks and on the road. Temperature and humidity logs should be available and you should be able to check these remotely. Also, be sure the warehousing partner is equipped with back-up generators in the event that the cooling or heating systems go down.

3. Management of Stock Rotation Protocols

Every food shipper has its own requirements for stock rotation and maximizing shelf life. Managing expiration dates is critically important to ensure that customers are getting fresh product and to lower the rate of waste due to out-of-date product. Our systems handle a wide range of stock rotation protocols to minimize expired product.

4. Real-Time Traceability

In the event of a recall or other issue relating to the product, you must be able to act quickly and decisively to trace identified lots.  Before you find out whether your 3PL can handle a real recall, you should find out if it can handle fake ones. “Mock recalls” are an important part of food and pharmaceutical warehouse management provided by your 3PL. These mock recalls are “practice runs” for real recall events.  

5. Ability to Consolidate Shipments

Food manufacturing is a relatively low-margin business where every penny of operating cost reduction counts in a big way.  Choose a 3PL food warehousing provider that does business with other food companies shipping to the same retail customers as you.  

The FLEX Logistics Solutions for Food Storage Include:

  • Warehousing and Just-In-Time Delivery

With Just-In-Time Delivery from Flex Logistics, you can take the hassle and headaches out of coordinating multiple shipments. With capabilities and services that stretch across every facet of domestic logistics, trust Expedited Transportation as your partner in cost-efficient, prompt and dependable shipping.

  • Systems design for streamlined manufacturing
  • Reduced complexity through focused, transparent operations
  • General practices that support continuous improvement and the elimination of waste
  • Enhancing process flows with strategic production line arrangement
  • Use of robust and flexible machines that are also relatively small and easy to use
  • Involving staff in operational improvements and problem-solving
  • Expanding flexibility capacity by minimizing setup and changeover timelines
  • Encouraging and sustaining reliability by employing total productive maintenance
  • Ecommerce Fulfillment

The need to be able to deliver products straight to your customers is becoming a necessity and food ecommerce is increasing in popularity. We have expertise in this area and currently work with several food ecommerce customers. We understand the importance of fast shipping to your customers, as well as order accuracy, quality control and excellent customer service. No matter what level of food ecommerce your particular business needs, our experienced team members and efficient technology solutions make us the perfect match.

  • Retail Fulfillment

Selling your food grade products in big box stores is a big step for your brand and your supply chain. At FLEX Logistics, we have expertise in shipping products to each of these stores and understand the most efficient way to fulfill these orders while following complex routing guides.

  • Omnichannel Fulfillment

As the rate of returns increase, so does the need for value added services within the reverse logistics process. Reverse logistics is a major component of omnichannel fulfillment strategies because ecommerce also creates returns that companies must process. 3PLs need to accept and process returns no matter how or where the consumer made the purchase, and consumers are looking for easy returns methods as well. 3PLs that offer returns processing can help their customers save time and money meeting consumer demands with consistent warehouse processes and technology that can track orders and handle returns regardless of the source. Many returned products require special attention before they are ready for resale, and we are proud to offer standard services like relabeling, repackaging, and refurbishment, as well as complex regional solutions like returns avoidance, proactive diagnostics, and in-store repair. 

Choose Your Food Warehouse 3PL Wisely

The FLEX Logistics Team is Here to Help!

At FLEX Logistics, we understand the complexities of food safety, especially for warehouses. We are a trusted 3PL company that provides quality warehousing, fulfillment and distribution services for commercial supply chains. Our capabilities also extend into food-grade warehousing and distribution, and we are proud to provide logistical assistance for dry food supplies, raw materials, and finished products in large and small quantities.

Our team understands the importance of getting your products to the market. That is why we aim to understand your business and build lasting relationships with you and your team. ​Whether you are looking to add a new warehouse to your existing operations, growing and need to increase your distribution efforts, or starting a new company, FLEX has the solutions to meet your supply chain needs.

Contact us today to discuss your current and future warehousing and logistics needs.  We will work together with you to understand your requirements and develop a solution that will set you up for future success.

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