FMI, GMA and FDI Release New Voluntary Shipping Container Guidelines

March 22, 1999
                     WASHINGTON, DC — March 22, 1999 — Helping the industry understand packaging issues within an increasingly complex supply chain, Food Marketing Institute (FMI), Grocery Manufacturers of America (GMA) and Food Distributors International (FDI) have released Supply Chain Packaging: Voluntary Shipping Guidelines for the U.S. Grocery Industry. The guidelines are intended to provide a better understanding of the criteria to consider in packaging a product for distribution in multiple channels.

     "Supply Chain Packaging addresses the need for an industry-wide commitment to quality and standards — a commitment to bring the consumer the highest quality products delivered through the most efficient distribution system," said Anne Lightburn, FMI Director, Industry Relations. "With this new report, we hope to encourage the use of knowledgeable teams working internally with trading partners to develop specific criteria for each packaging category."

     The Joint Industry Shipping Container Work Group, comprised of representatives from FMI, GMA, FDI and other industry organizations, recommends the following changes in unit load performance:

  • Maximum unit load raised to 2,800 pounds including pallet

  • Preferred maximum pallet height is 72 inches to lower edge of the top product layer
  • New preferred maximum and minimum case sizes
  • Minimum stack height strength is now two unit loads high
  • Case strength is now defined by mixed SKU unit loads

In addition to performance changes, the study offers other significant recommendations:

  • Fire safety should be introduced as a package material issue
  • Store-level activity based costing (ABC) data should be considered in packaging decisions
  • Cases, tray packs and display modules should have common requirements

     "These voluntary guidelines were prepared in a spirit of joint industry cooperation, with the realization that, in the vast food, beverage and consumer products distribution industry, one solution cannot be applied to all packages and shipping containers," said Mark S. Allen, Director, Industry Affairs at GMA. "The Joint Industry Shipping Container Work Group has provided a unique opportunity for trading partners to work together to enhance efficiency throughout the supply chain."

     For more information about Supply Chain Packaging: Voluntary Shipping Container Guidelines for the U.S. Grocery Industry, please contact FMI at 202/452-8444; GMA at 202/337-9400, or FDI at 703/532-9400. To order a copy from the FMI Web site, please click below.


Food Marketing Institute proudly advocates on behalf of the food retail industry. FMI’s U.S. members operate nearly 40,000 retail food stores and 25,000 pharmacies, representing a combined annual sales volume of almost $770 billion. Through programs in public affairs, food safety, research, education and industry relations, FMI offers resources and provides valuable benefits to more than 1,225 food retail and wholesale member companies in the United States and around the world. FMI membership covers the spectrum of diverse venues where food is sold, including single owner grocery stores, large multi-store supermarket chains and mixed retail stores. For more information, visit and for information regarding the FMI foundation, visit