Expert Topic Outbound Freight – shipping out full beer

The following article was posted on Feb. 18, 2015. It has been reviewed and updated as necessary by the ProBrewer editorial staff. 

Cases – Typically a full stack of beer (approx. 60 – 72+ cases in either cans or glass) – will weigh anywhere from 1900 to 2200 pounds per pallet stack.

Kegs – Full kegs can be stacked two pallets high. Each pallets load will be anywhere from 1200 to 1400 pounds (Full 1/6 barrel (20/pallet) – 1/2 barrel Sankey kegs (8/pallet). (Remember you are essentially doubling the weight load on the bottom pallet when you stack them two high, so make sure you have a pallet down there that can handle that load.)

Load shift:

The weight balance of the load you’ve created of full cases or kegs will shift in transit. This can be dangerous for shipping personnel, your load, and other loads sharing your cargo environment, but most of all you increase the risk of damage in transit, damage the carrier will not pay for.

  • Your cases or kegs not only need to be completely shrink wrapped, but also “tied to the pallet”. Wrap the goods and make sure you run the wrap around the base of the pallet to help secure the load to the base. Banding for kegs is preferable, but few brewers have the banding machine, so once again, do not get cheap with the shrink wrap – too much is never enough.
  • The important thing to remember here is to secure the goods to the pallet. The goal is to get the product to your wholesalers intact.

Load Stacking:

    • Cases: – Standard load stacking

When stacking cases of full beer; do not go too high, the higher the case stack the better chance for a load shift during transit. (consider 2200 lbs. per pallet a safe max weight per pallet position).

  • Kegs: Standard load stacking

1/2 bbl. kegs, 8 per layer or 16 full max per one pallet position (2 stack)
1/6 bbl. kegs; 20 per layer, 40 max per pallet position (2 stack)
1/4 bbl. kegs, 14 per layer, 28 max per pallet position. (2 stack)

Weight out (Maximum load weight) – When shipping out a full truck load of beer, you will “weight out” a truck before you take up the full length of the trailer, so think of weight as the max on what you can ship rather than the quantity the cargo space will allow – 20-22 pallets of full beer will usually do it.

Temperature – a valid concern, not just heat, but just as important, the potential for freezing during core winter months. There is NO RULE here, every brewery; from the small craft brewery to the big mega breweries have their own personal rules when it comes to full product and temperature. For example, this from the rule book of a few top 10 national brewers; Full beer that is going to be run overnight to the delivery point, typically less than 16 hours in transit, can be shipped in a dry van, in the summer or winter months, reefer not needed. With packaged beer you have more lee-way than draught. Once you start shipping longer distances, multiple drops, 2+ day transit, in the middle of the summer or winter months – then a reefer trailer must be considered necessary to protect the beer from extreme high or low temperatures.

Full TL rates for a Dry Van versus a TL Reefer are going to be less expensive; 15 cents to 50 cents per mile depending on the shipping lane and time of year. Reefer LTL is not available through the national carriers (previously mentioned). Reefer LTL can be very expensive with limited choices and timing. If you can ship on a flexible schedule you’ll increase your chance of finding a reasonable rate from the truck going the right direction, with space for 2-4 pallets to add to his current load. Not a common freight solution, but can be sourced with patience.

Freight Strategy and Wholesale Pricing

Strategies for shipment of full beer to beverage wholesalers outside of your local markets. (In most cases your local wholesalers pick up full beer and bring back empty kegs for free) The brewery has some decisions to make – how do I ship my beer to my non-local markets? How am I going to price my finished goods? Freight cost enters the equation when the brewer is negotiating with a wholesaler on the cost of your beer; cases and kegs to the wholesaler. The cost of the freight to deliver the beer to the wholesaler is handled in two ways:

  1. The beer is sold to the wholesaler FOB brewery dock, the wholesaler then has to arrange the freight and or use his own trucks to pick up the beer.
  2. The brewery controls the carrier or broker and when it is shipped out, paying for the shipping and freight to deliver the full product. The Negotiation starts here, the wholesaler will ask for a Freight Allowance – normally generous, but they have to arrange it, and it saves you time, but could be costing you money or margin. The cost of your beer or cases, starts at the shelf and works backwards. What price point do you want to be on the shelf in a particular market – the everyday 6-pack cost on the shelf to the consumer? That is where you start the discussion with your wholesaler, and then you work back to the margin the wholesaler needs. You know exactly what your costs are and what margin you require. Add that to the cost of freight to get it to the wholesalers’ dock.
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