Food Processing Facility and Cold Storage Warehouse Design

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A food processing facility or cold storage warehouse design requires a great deal of planning. Information must be collected from many sources and combined into documents that are simple to read and share with others.

There are four main areas of focus during the design phase. The main areas of focus can be broken down into the following: Facility, Process, Products, and Other. Below, we break down a few of the components of each phase. (For a complete checklist, please click HERE. 


When considering your facility during the design phase, there are over 20 different items that must be addressed. For example, you will need to consider you site location, site size, project budget, and utilities. 

Other items to keep in mind are local, state, and federals codes and permits that are required. The variations in the governing laws depends on the type of facility and products you plan to produce or distribute. Let’s breakdown just a few of these facility focus points. 

Site Selection

Identify the best location(s) for the facility, considering the following factors:

  • Economic development assistance – grants or other support offered to new businesses
  • Flexibility
  • Expansion
  • Utilities availability
  • Maintenance
  • Sanitation
  • Access
  • Environmental impact
  • Zoning laws
  • Permit requirements
  • Parking for employees and delivery vehicles

Facility Size

Existing or proposed facility size (square feet)

    • Designate size of dedicated areas (storage, cooler, processing, packing, etc.)
    • Provide a plan view of the proposed facilities layout (a scaled drawing is not necessary if dimensions are included)
    • Estimate expansions requirements (show on drawing)


Identify source(s) and cost to provide utility service. Review the impact of variable demand charges (if any) and limitations on quantity (e.g. BOD of discharge to treatment system). Consider including meters that can record utility usage to provide data for improving operating efficiency.

Refrigerated Storage Requirements

Refrigerated storage requirement (square feet or amount of products/materials/pallets) for proper handling, rotation and placement of goods

    • Temperature
    • Raw materials (ingredients)
    • Finished product
    • Rework
    • Long-term storage requirements for seasonal goods
    • Stack height

As you can see, there are a lot of parts to address when it comes to a food processing facility and cold storage warehouse design. Also keep in mind, that different strategies will be needed for maximizing energy efficiency, and your employees will require service facilities such as restrooms and breakrooms as well. 


Food processing facility and cold storage warehouse design process

When designing a food processing facility or cold storage warehouse, understanding your processes is critical to the overall efficiency of your facility. It is important to understand your process organization and flow charts, the technology that will be used, and how you will handle waste treatment operations. 

Other items that deserve consideration during this phase of the design process include: 

  • Regulatory requirements for products (local, state, federal and international)
  • The level of process automation desired for the facility
  • How will packaging materials be delivered to the facility (delivery size, frequency, pallet dimensions, stacking specifications, case size and plans for handling)
  • Expansion capability and space availability
  • Flexibility (changeovers, seasonal packs or products, and future upgrades)


food processing facility and cold storage warehouse product design phase

What is the value-added products to be processed? Describe the physical properties of ingredients, intermediate and final product(s) (include or forecast ingredients in future plans). Intermediate products may be important in cases where physical properties of the intermediate are unique when compared to the ingredients and final product.


Here is a small list of other things to keep in mind during a food processing facility or cold storage warehouse design. 

  • Food and Drug Administration, United States Department of Agriculture, or applicable regulations
  • Local state and federal permits (construction, business and environmental)
  • Local labor groups and labor statistics
  • Local cropping practices and soil types
  • Local weather patterns
  • Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point (HACCP) program
  • Test kitchen (product development) requirement
  • Research and development laboratory and/or pilot plant
  • Seasonal processing requirements
  • Softened water requirement
  • HVAC system pressure and balance for sanitation, and process and odor control
  • Lighting requirements
  • Energy and process materials recovery
  • Return on investment
  • Environmental safety (chemical handling, storage, and disposal)

Food Pro Tec Wants to Help!

Food Pro Tec has done this before and has experience in many different situations. Let Food Pro Tec guide you during your start-up business or your next business growth phase and provide you the value and service that you deserve. If you have a project that you would like our help on, please CONTACT US and we will be happy to assist in any way that we can! 

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