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West Coast and California Logistics Blog

The Top 3 Mistakes Companies Make in Beer, Wine and Spirits Logistics

Thu, Jun 13, 2024 @ 09:17 AM / by David Hooper

Finding the right 3PL provider to perform and manage your beer, wine and spirits logistics operations can be a daunting task. Mistakes in this industry can be costly and damage your reputation with customers. In this article, we’ll examine the 3 most common mistakes that 3PL providers make when handling these sensitive products.

1. Failure to Ensure Proper Licensing

One of the most critical aspects of beer, wine and spirits logistics is ensuring that all involved parties, especially warehousing facilities, are properly licensed. Regulatory bodies such as the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) in the United States strictly monitor compliance in the handling of alcoholic beverages.

beer-wine-spirits-logisticsDifferent states also have their own regulations. To legally store alcoholic beverages in California, including beer, wine, and spirits, a 3PL must possess a Type 14 ABC (Alcoholic Beverage Control) license. This license, specific to the state of California, is obtained through a fairly invasive process involving ownership-level background checks and fingerprinting, along with adherence to various commodity-specific regulations and penalties. Without this license, a logistics company cannot legally store alcohol in the state.

If you inadvertently partner with an unlicensed facility, you risk severe penalties, including fines and disruptions in your supply chain. This could mean a frantic scramble to relocate inventory, a process that is not only stressful but also expensive. To avoid such pitfalls, you must perform thorough due diligence on potential partners to confirm all necessary licenses are in place.


2. Lack of Proper Handling Equipment and Environment

Different types of alcoholic beverages require specific handling equipment to ensure they are transported safely and without damage. For example:

  • Beer kegs require heavy-duty equipment like drum pickers for moving and storage
  • Bottles and cans require appropriate racking, forklifts, and slip sheets to prevent breakage and maintain the integrity of the products

Inadequate or inappropriate handling equipment can lead to significant product loss through damage, which is not only a direct financial hit but can also damage your reputation with its customers. It is vital that your chosen 3PL provider has the right tools for the job, tailored to the specific products they handle.

It is also vital that your products are stored in the appropriate environment. For temperature-sensitive products, this means partnering with a 3PL provider that has the specs, systems, and space to perform temperature-controlled warehousing.

  • Specs: Your products each have temperature-related requirements that they must adhere to. These are not only based on FDA regulations, but also on your own specific requirements to ensure the freshness, potency, longevity, and shelf-life of each product.
  • Systems: Knowing the specific temperature requirements of your products, your 3PL warehousing provider must be able to ensure that these requirements can be met 100% of the time using temperature- and humidity-regulation systems.
  • Space: Some facilities have the space and systems to securely house multiple temperature zones, while other facilities can only safely house a few zones or may specialize in just one. Importantly, the space between the zones matters just as much as the storage capacity within. Each zone must comply with strict regulations to prevent cross-contact.

Some 3PL providers, like Weber Logistics, also provide temperature-controlled transportation services which can integrate with warehousing services to create a full cold chain solution for your products.


3. Inadequate Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs)

Having robust standard operating procedures (SOPs) in place is vital, especially when dealing with potential spills or damages. Spills, particularly in the case of beer, can create extensive messes that attract pests and require specialized cleaning procedures. Make sure that your logistics partner not only has strong SOPs in place but also adheres to high standards of cleanliness and food safety management, such as those required by AIB certification.

“AIB” is short for the American Institute of Baking, now known as AIB International. AIB has become one of the world’s foremost providers of training and certification programs related to food safety, quality management, process optimization, and avoidance of recalls. AIB’s “Consolidated Standards for Inspection” represent requirements that a food-grade facility such as a warehouse must meet to keep food products safe.

AIB audits are conducted annually. The audit process typically takes 1-2 full days and covers every aspect of warehousing operations, from procedure and paperwork review to detailed reviews of equipment and facility conditions. This intense process – along with the associated price tag – keeps many companies from going through with it.

AIB certification shows that a 3PL truly walks the walk when it comes to keeping food and beverage products safe as they travel through the supply chain. With such an intensive audit and certification process, only the companies that have full confidence in their abilities will invite such an audit.


Turn to Weber for Beer, Wine and Spirits Logistics Excellence

While there are 3PLs of all sizes that handle beer, wine and spirits products, it’s only premium-service regional providers like Weber Logistics that have the infrastructure to support you, plus the flexibility to develop custom solutions for your business.

  • Agile: Weber is big enough to support the world’s best-known brands, while small enough to provide customized solutions.
  • Integrated: Weber’s drayage, warehousing and final-mile delivery services combine for one single-source solution.
  • Licensed: Weber has a Type 14 ABC (Alcoholic Beverage Control) license to operate within California.
  • Superior: All Weber’s food-grade facilities have received a superior rating from AIB International.
  • Compliant: Systems and processes exceed FDA and TTB requirements, including FSMA and HACCP.
  • Overweight: Weber can perform transloading and/or weight reduction services within California’s Overweight Corridor.
  • Temp-Controlled: Weber’s integrated services can keep your temperature sensitive products at spec throughout the supply chain.

Contact us today to learn how we can put our beer, wine and spirits logistics expertise to work for your supply chain.

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Topics: alcohol logistics

Written by David Hooper

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