What Is The Food and Beverage Industry

The food and beverage industry encompasses many processes, from farming and storage to food processing, packing, grocery, and retail. It is a large and diverse industry with specialized machinery, storage solutions, and regulations. 

Food and beverage

Common Facilities in the Food and Beverage Industry

Rows of crops


Agriculture is where food production begins. Food, dairy products, wool, and more are grown and harvested at farms. There are typical farms where cattle, crops, and other livestock are grown that require agriculture warehouses for grain, hay, products, etc. 

Urban farming warehouses are another kind of farming done indoors in vertical or hydroponic farming systems. These facilities take up much less space and produce food more efficiently.

Food handling and distribution

Food Handling and Distribution Centers

Food distribution centers may handle raw or packaged food products. These facilities must comply with FDA food and beverage regulations and consist of food-grade storage systems and operations. 

Specific storage systems work better for food warehouses, which we will discuss below. 

Cold storage

Cold Storage

Cold storage facilities prolong the storage of temperature-sensitive and expiratory foods and beverages. Food and beverage companies may implement cold storage in an entire warehouse facility or only a specific area within the warehouse.

Grocery store

Grocery Stores

Grocery stores are hubs for food and beverage storage and retail. Grocery stores typically consist of a warehouse where goods are received and processed before being sent to the retail front. Once ready for retail, goods are stocked on shelves and sold to customers. 

Chef preparing food


Restaurants are another faction of the food and beverage industry where meals are prepared and served directly to the customer. Food service is ideally done in a clean and safe dining environment. Restaurants require refrigeration and storage for perishable goods and are regulated closely by the FDA.

Food and Beverage Industry Regulations and Compliance

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and other regulatory agencies, like the CDC and FSIS, enforce regulations and compliance in food handling. 

There are many national and localized state regulations for food handling and distribution. Here are some of the most common conditions you should be aware of:

  • Pest control
  • Sanitation and hygiene
  • Temperature process controls
  • Performing hazard analysis
  • Foreign material control
  • Recall protocols
  • Transportation inspections
  • Security policies
  • FDA registration

Inspections are performed regularly for food handling facilities to ensure adherence to all codes and regulations. Researching local food and beverage regulations is vital to maintain a safe and sanitary environment.

Food and beverage storage

Food Safety Modernization Act

The FDA’s Food Safety Modernization Act has transformed the nation’s food safety system and changed warehouse management by establishing standards for growing, harvesting, packing, and holding produce for human consumption. The safety modernization act (FSMA) has prevented foodborne illnesses and increased the shelf life of products. 

Read more about FSMA food and beverage warehouse standards in the FSMA Final Rule on Produce Safety.

Food and Beverage Storage Solutions

Perishable goods require first-in-first-out (FIFO) storage systems like drive-in or push-back pallet racking. FIFO systems prevent any pallet from lingering in the system past its expiration date. These systems allow an entire row to be emptied at once and loaded onto a truck for transportation. 

Other storage solutions include: 

  • Pallet flow for FIFO food storage
  • Automated shuttle systems
  • Cold storage for refrigerated products
  • Gondola steel shelving for grocery stores 
  • Selective pallet racking for warehouses and vertical farming

Food and Beverage Storage Cost

Each storage solution comes with its own cost per pallet position. Additionally, each application requires its system to be customized to the product and stage of the food and beverage supply chain. 

AK can provide a custom quote with some details from you about your application and product. Please fill out our quote request form to get an idea of your unique price estimate. 

Why Choose AK To Build A Food and Beverage Facility?

AK Material Handling Systems designs and supplies food and beverage warehouses with practical storage solutions. We offer turnkey services from warehouse design to pallet racking and installation.

For help designing your food and beverage storage solution, call AK at 800-722-5908 today!

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