Facts about the GMA pallet

Today, approximately 90% of the U.S. domestic product is shipped on pallets. Primary industry users of pallets include food, chemicals...

wooden pallet spacers

Today, approximately 90% of the U.S. domestic product is shipped on pallets. Primary industry users of pallets include food, chemicals and pharmaceuticals, government, dairy, and beverage.  But, which industry uses the most pallets, you might wonder? The food industry—and grocery stores in particular—use the most pallets out of any other market. It only seems natural, then, that the industry using the most pallets was also the first to develop a pallet standard in order to lower costs for handling and storage.

Almost 60 years ago, nearly all groceries were shipped in individual cases loaded on the floor of a delivery vehicle or truck.  This process took significant time to load and unload products.  In the 1960s, General Foods, a large company with great bargaining power at the time, persuaded the grocery industry that it needed to develop a better method. The Grocery Manufacturer Association (or GMA) stepped in to design a standard pallet footprint of 48” x 40”.  This standardization helped to make distribution operations smoother so that packaged consumer goods could be mobilized around the U.S. ensuring healthy and affordable food options for everyone.  Furthermore, with a standard size, it was possible for grocery shippers to design a unitized load that was acceptable to nearly every buyer.

While many features of this standard have since disintegrated, the size specifications remain today. In fact, the most common size pallet is the 48×40 four-way pallet or GMA pallet. The GMA pallet has deckboards of 40 inches and stringers of 48 inches. It is used for heavy loads (or general-purpose systems that might have heavy loads). Plus, these pallets are nestable; they fit nicely together when not in use, which saves space.

So, the next time you’re in a grocery store which–for many of us–is at least once a week, consider for a moment the humble pallet.  Every food item—the staples you rely on—was transported on a pallet to that particular store for your consumption.  What a palatable concept!

If you are in the market for pallets, look no further.  The pallet pros are ready to help you determine which pallet, whether GMA pallets or any number of others, is right for your organization.  Contact us today!

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