Racks of goods in dry storage at BCS.

Dry storage is critical piece of food distribution pipeline

October 19, 2019

When shopping to feed their families, customers like their groceries fresh, good-looking and with plenty of shelf-life remaining. But how does that happen? Who is responsible for ensuring that food makes it from producers around the world to customers’ kitchens in prime shape?

Dry storage facilities like Bellingham Cold Storage play large roles in that food distribution pipeline. And with the growth of online groceryshopping, such facilities are more important now than ever, as dry storage centers are increasingly being used as hubs for home grocery delivery.

At its two locations in Bellingham, BCS works with companies to ensure that their food items are taken care of while awaiting distribution to grocery stores throughout the Pacific Northwest region and beyond. One example is Nature’s Path Organic Foods, a Canadian company based in Richmond, B.C., with U.S. production facilities in Wisconsin and in Blaine here in Washington state. Nature’s Path produces organic breakfast and snack foods that are sold in more than 50 countries around the world, and Bellingham Cold Storage helps ensure the distribution of Nature’s Path foods.

Storage companies like BCS offer facilities that control for factors that could impact food safety, security and quality — things like humidity, temperature and pests. Dry storage warehouses must provide climate-controlled, secure warehouses to ensure that food stays dry and cool, as moisture and high temps can lead to deterioration in food quality. Managed dry storage also must be protected from vermin, such as rats and mice, that can contaminate food.

Laptop screen showing the WebOPTICS interface.

Perishable food warehouses also must handle food using the first-in, first-out storage method. Properly rotating perishable food helps it arrive in stores with plenty of time before its expiration date. The proprietary WebOPTICS inventory management system developed by BCS is sought after by farmers and food producers looking for pinpoint control of their products, including selecting items for shipment and reviewing inventory by quantity or weight.

The timely shipping of food also is helped by the local transportation infrastructure. Ideally, dry storage warehouses are placed near robust transportation networks. Bellingham Cold Storage, with its campuses on the Bellingham waterfront in Whatcom County and near Interstate 5 and international rail lines, can provide for the rapid shipment of groceries by ship, truck or rail. Customers such as Nature’s Path with food in dry storage at BCS rely on that transportation network to help feed the world. Bellingham Cold Storage provides managed dry storage warehousing for companies in the United States and Canada, offering leased warehousing and processing space, export labeling capabilities and shipment by sea, road or rail.