What Are the GMA Pallet Guidelines for Food Industry Pallets?

GMA pallet

Grocery stores, distribution centers and manufacturing plants all use pallets to handle food and beverages. To ensure the process of moving products between warehouses and locations is quick and standardized, the Grocery Manufacturers Association (GMA), now known as the Consumer Brands Association (CBA), has established a set of guidelines for all food industry pallets.

These GMA pallet guidelines contain detailed dimensions and specifications, as well as quality classification parameters.

What are the specifications of GMA pallets?

Pallets manufactured to GMA specifications are typically referred to as GMA pallets. A GMA pallet is one of the six most common size pallets, and is by far the most popular size in the US. A GMA pallet has:

  • An overall footprint of 48” by 40”
  • A minimum load-bearing capacity of 2,500 pounds
  • Four-way forklift entry with two notches on the side
  • Top and bottom deck boards are a minimum of 1/2 inch thick
  • A 5 1/2″ x 40″ board on each end of the pallet top, and five 3 1/2″ x 40″ boards in the center
  • A 5 1/2″ x 40″ board on each end of the pallet bottom, and three 3 1/2″ x 40″ boards between the notches

What are the different grades of GMA pallets?

The GMA pallet is a recycled pallet categorized into two general grades: A and B. In certain regions, these categories may be referenced to as #1 and #2. 

Grade A Standard GMA Pallet
Sample photo of a Standard Grade A GMA Pallet. Disclaimer: Appearance and discoloration may vary slightly.

Grade A Standard GMA Pallet

A Grade A or #1 is the higher quality recycled pallet of the two. These are products that are generally in good condition. These pallets may feature mending plates or staples, but cannot include block or companion board repairs.

Within the Grade A GMA Pallet product segment, there are two subcategories: Premium Grade and Standard Grade.

The most significant difference between the Premium Grade and Standard Grade pallets is the presence of a wide-lead (nominal 6″) lead boards on both the top and bottom decks. Premium Grade A pallets should have 6″ lead boards on both the top and bottom. Some Standard Grade A pallets may include wide-lead boards soley on the top and be considered a Standard Grade A.


  • No block repairs to stringers
  • Lead board chip-back breakage of up to 1” x 8” acceptable
  • Each stringer may have one set of repair plates or staples to strengthen any split
  • Minimal small black-out markings on sides acceptable

Grade B Standard GMA Pallet

Grade B Standard GMA Pallet

Grade B or #2 pallets show indication of more extensive use than Grade A pallets. They may be worn and discolored, or have broken stringers that have been repaired with companion runners.


  • Block/Plug repairs to stringers acceptable
  • Block/Plugs can be in various locations & of various lengths
  • No more than two extra blocks (stringers) thick at any one point
  • Lead board chip-back breakage of up to 1” x 20” acceptable
  • Popular for those that can accept the standard due to lower cost compared to Grade A pallets.

Visual Comparing The Various Grades

A Green Graphic comparing the three standard types of 4840 GMA Pallet Grades

Custom Specifications for the Food Industry

At Kamps, we understand that not every situation is the same. As a food processor or manufacturer, you may have customers with varied demands. As the experts at 48×40 GMA pallets, we have the ability to work with your organization and your customers to outline custom grade expectations that ensure all parties are satisfied.

Why Work With Kamps

At Kamps, we sort, repair and deliver thousands of GMA pallets every day – you could say it’s our specialty. Our first and main location, in Grand Rapids, Michigan is home to many food processors and manufacturers, as well as grocery stores and restaurants. Our clients rely on Kamps to provide the pallets that keep this food chain moving so that fresh and packaged food gets to their customers on time and in good condition. We take this responsibility very seriously.

We also make it a point at Kamps to standardize these grades across all locations nationwide. Because we believe that our customers, and their clients, deserve consistent quality and a partner that can meet expectations – regardless of size.

If your business uses GMA pallets and you would like to discuss which grade pallet would best meet your needs and your company’s budget, contact us today. We’d love to go through your options and supply you with a great pallet at a great price.

This article was originally published on Oct 30, 2018 and updated on June 3rd, 2020.

Fuad Hasanovic

Fuad is the Brand Management Specialist at Kamps. He is experienced in Thought Leadership Marketing and Blogging, and holds an MBA from Davenport University.


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