The most popular standard pallet size in US inches is 48L x 40W. How popular? The 48x40 accounts for approximately 30% of all wooden pallets produced each year.
The 48x40 standard was set by the Grocery Manufacturers Association (GMA) more than forty years ago. For this reason, you may hear it called a GMA pallet. But, not all 48x40 pallets are designed to GMA specs nor are they all used in the grocery industry. Interestingly, that's true of most any "industry standard" pallet. Even though a pallet may have originally been standardized for a specific trade, its use is often not exclusive to that industry alone.
Most Popular US Pallet Sizes
You'll notice many of the most popular sizes on this list are square pallets or nearly square. That's simply physics. A square base can help to prevent load tipping. Below are ways you'll most often see these popular pallet sizes used:
Pallet Sizes for Exporting
The 1200x800 Euro pallet (you may see it labeled as EUR, EUR1 or EPAL) is Europe's market leader by a landslide. Many European conveyor systems and other handling equipment cannot accept larger pallets. Ship in the wrong size and you may get hit with disposal and repacking fees. Many metric dimension pallets in use around Europe, Asia and other foreign locations are similar in dimensions to popular US pallets bringing us close to global pallet size standardization:
Retail and Beverage Pallets
Most anything you drink from an aluminum can, plastic or glass bottle was probably sitting on a beverage pallet (including the popular 36x36 pallet listed above). At the store, you may find your favorite soda pop stacked on a point-of-purchase or retail pallet placed up front or at the end of an aisle. The brewing industry transports beer kegs on larger bulk beverage pallets.
You will often hear chemical pallets called by the short-cut name, CP pallets. There are nine standard designs manufactured in metric dimensions. Each pallet is stamped with a designation from CP-1 thru CP-9. The specifications were set by European chemical industries but are suitable for many other uses. In the US, chemicals are commonly moved and stored in drums and bags using the popular 48x48 and 44x44 pallets mentioned in the first list.
Other Pallet Sizes
The pallet sizes shown in the "most popular" list above make up about 60% of the US market. Every other size in this post plus hundreds of others make up the remaining 40%. The rare standards and a large number of custom wooden pallets in circulation show us that close to half of pallets in use are not a standard size. Some of these include:
Were any standard pallet sizes from your industry missed? Let me know in the comments below and I'll update the pallet list to make it as complete as possible.
Post by: Jonathan Haynes, Regional Sales Manager
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