What are perishable goods? Storage and Transportation

By Danielle Allen

The storage and transportation of perishable goods is a specialist area for order fulfillment, whether B2B or B2C. There are many legislative and cost implications to being responsible for items that can quickly be wasted if not treated with the correct care and attention. 


In this article, we will explore the types of products that are considered perishable and non-perishable, how to store them, what considerations you need to make about their storage to ensure best practice, and how to transport them. 


What is a perishable good?


Perishable goods are defined as goods that have a fixed or specified shelf-life or expiry date - after which, they become unsuitable for consumption or use.


Additionally, some perishable goods need specialised storage as they’re subject to deterioration, spoilage or impairment over a period of time, if not chilled, refrigerated or frozen.


Usually, the term perishable goods refers to food and drink items that have characteristics that make them likely to deteriorate in a short period of time, however it can also refer to other types of products. Some examples of perishable goods include: 

  • Food items
  • Beverages
  • Dairy products
  • Pharmaceuticals
  • Medicines
  • Cosmetic items
  • Flowers
  • Plants
  • Chemical materials


Perishable vs non perishable


Non-perishable goods refers to products that have a long shelf-life and can be stored at room temperature for a long period of time, without them becoming unsafe for consumption or use, as long as their packaging remains intact and sealed. 


Unlike perishable goods, non-perishable means they can withstand a delayed delivery, and be stored without specialist arrangements.


Some examples of non-perishable goods are:

  • Canned, jarred, dried or dehydrated food
  • Instant coffee 
  • Bottled water
  • Cleaning products
  • Personal hygiene products


How to store perishable goods in a warehouse


To store perishable goods, your warehouse facilities need to offer the ideal conditions. There are multiple factors to consider as perishable goods are affected by temperature, humidity, light and atmospheric pressure. Therefore, specialised storage is required to ensure the products remain suitable for consumption or use.


In the UK, there are various legislative standards your facilities must adhere to, to be able to store perishable goods. These include The Food Hygiene (England) Regulations 2006 (or equivalent for other UK regions), as well as well-known industry standards such as the Regulation (EC) 852 of 2004, BRGCS certification and The HACCP framework. Typically, you should go above and beyond these industry standards to deliver excellent service for the storage of perishables.




As perishable goods quality and viability can be affected by temperature and humidity, maintaining the correct storage temperatures is crucial. The temperature at which you store perishables will depend on the types of goods. 


Some of the most commonly used warehouse storage solutions are cold stores and freezing chambers as these can hold large quantities of stock while ensuring the correct temperatures, and can have their temperatures set according to the type of goods being stored.




The hygiene with a perishable storage facility is paramount as these products need to be fit for human consumption or use. Due to this, the danger of outside contaminants rendering products unsafe is extremely high, meaning key areas will need to be kept at a high level of cleanliness. 


These areas include floors, walls, racking, trollies, any means of warehouse transportation and all other equipment used. The use of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) is also crucial to minimise the chance of contamination passing from the staff members that work in these areas.




Being able to track perishable goods at every stage of their supply chain journey is essential, and during their storage before transportation is a part of the journey. 


Both the suppliers and customers of perishables need full visibility of where and how goods have been stored, for the certainty of its quality for the end consumers. 


Inventory management software used, as well as barcode scanning technology (if you use it) should enable warehouses to keep detailed records of perishables, including when goods arrived, their batch numbers,, their best-by and expiration dates, where and how they are stored within the warehouse, any movements within the warehouse and their despatch, for full traceability which can be used should there be any discrepancy, quality issue, or recall of the products.


Expiration dates


A perishable products’ expiration date is a key piece of data which will influence its inventory and warehouse movements. The expiration dates will need to be closely monitored by staff members to make decisions about stock rotation to avoid stock becoming waste products unnecessarily. 


Stock rotation


Stock rotation is a core part of storing perishable products; there are two main inventory storage methods which can be used to avoid unnecessary waste. 


First In, First Out (FIFO)


This method means that the products first booked into the warehouse will be the first despatched to their final destination. This is to ensure perishables spend as little time in the warehouse as possible.


First Expire, First Out (FEFO)


This method relies on the products expiry date, and ensures that items with the earliest expiry dates are the ones to be picked and despatched first. This is to ensure minimal quantities of stock become waste products.


Transporting perishable goods


The transportation of perishable goods is as important as their storage, to ensure goods do not spoil in transit. 


Much like their storage, correct temperatures and transportation methods must be used to ensure their quality. For example, bulk or business to business (B2B) orders should be shipped using refrigerated trailers and hygiene must be maintained through their transfer from storage to transportation and during their journey.


Goods shipped directly to consumers (B2C) must also be transported in a method that will ensure their quality - a common example of this is food subscription boxes packaging their products with ice blocks and insulted materials to ensure the food remains frozen and/or fresh in-transit.


Using Mintsoft to help manage perishable goods inventory


If you’re looking for a Warehouse Management Software (WMS) that can cope with the demands and methods required to store and despatch perishable goods, Mintsoft may be the WMS software for you. 


With inventory tracking capable of containing the critical information required for perishables, along with customisable workflows to support both FIFO and FEFO picking allocations.


If you’d like to explore Mintsoft’s cloud-based WMS software further, please book a session with one of our fulfillment experts for a personalised demonstration of the system and its capabilities for the fulfillment of perishable goods.