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When it comes to warehouse storage, sometimes how you store your goods is just as important as where.

Most of you reading this will be aware of FIFO, or first-in-first-out storage. FIFO is typically used as a way to manage lot and batch numbers by ensuring that products are sold and shipped in the order they arrived to the warehouse; this allows warehouses to keep better track of things like production times and serial numbers for goods with any kind of time sensitivity.


Sometimes, however, goods will need to be expedited along the logistics process outside of when they first arrived, such as perishable goods with a hard-and-fast expiration date. This is where first-expired-first-out, or FEFO, storage comes in.

FEFO, at its core, is a way of creating extra lead time on any perishable goods you sell, such as food, pharmaceuticals, or cosmetics. Most forms of FEFO are similar to FIFO, in that a date is assigned to a group of products in a supply chain, but the date hinges more on the products’ posted expiration date, and not the date of manufacture or the date it was placed on shelves, like FIFO does.


It’s not as complicated to implement as you may think, and can actually bring several benefits to your warehouse, including:

  • Increased customer confidence: Growing numbers of consumers are wary about the expiration dates on their food, with surveys showing that most shoppers won’t buy perishables within 3-5 days of their expiration date. FEFO helps you get items out on shelves with the longest lead time on expiration dates and help instill a greater sense of confidence in your customers.
  • Better management of cold chains: Anyone with experience in cold chains or refrigerated storage knows the struggles that come with managing these goods along the process. FEFO storage allows you more end-to-end control over the process by giving you a better idea of when the products need to get shipped out, and how long they can viably stay on shelves.
  • Reducing the amount of expired goods on shelves: At the end of the day, any of your retail partners – from the biggest franchise supermarket to the smallest local deli or grocery store – want to minimize the amount of unsellable, expired goods on their shelves. FEFO ensures products are being shipped in a way that will reduce the risk of unsellable goods lingering on shelves, and letting your clients know which items they need to get moved off shelves before new products come in.

Switching to a FEFO system isn’t as difficult as you might think, either – it may require some downstacking, and you’ll need to rearrange your pallet racks and food shelving as needed to accommodate the outgoing products better, but by focusing on this storage for your items, you can do a lot of good for your entire operation in the long run.

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