What Are the GMA Pallet Guidelines for Food Industry Pallets?


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GMA pallet

GMA palletGrocery 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) 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 grades: A and B.

Grade A Standard GMA Pallet Grade A Standard GMA Pallet

Grade A or #1 is the highest quality recycled pallets. These are products that are in excellent condition, with no stringer repairs and only minor discoloration. Many recyclers use subdivisions within the category to distinguish between pallets with a cleaner appearance, such as food grade or premium grade.

  • 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
  • Food Grade requirements: pallets must be clean, dry and free of contaminants

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

Grade B is very popular due to the lower cost than a Grade A pallet.

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.

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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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