SAQ Harmonizes Import Pallet Requirements to Boost Productivity and Reduce Environmental Impact

Standardized CHEP pallets will help eliminate the delays of repalletization and speed up the handling of inbound European spirits.

SAQ, the provincial Crown corporation responsible for the trade of alcoholic beverages in Quebec, Canada, has successfully improved operations by utilizing CHEP’s 48×40-inch rental pallet to ensure standardized quality. The conversion to the standardized platform and CHEP’s circular model began with pilot programs in Italy and France.

Like many import beverage warehouses, prior to engaging with CHEP, SAQ regularly received import pallets of varying size and quality, loaded with bottles. Dealing with suppliers from many countries, pallet compatibility is often an issue for spirits importers. Some of the import pallets were incompatible for placement in SAQ’s storage racks, and had to be re-boarded. In addition, the non-conforming pallets generated waste wood.

The Société des alcools du Québec (SAQ) is a government corporation whose mandate is to sell alcoholic beverages and whose mission is to provide superior service to the Quebec public by offering a broad range of quality products. Serving over 400 stores and generating sales of $3.2 billion (CAD) annually, SAQ provides a major income stream to the Quebec and federal governments in the form of taxes and duties.

To address these and other issues, SAQ decided to standardize its pallet platform for the 2,000 businesses it works with around the world, including 60 countries. Converting such a large group of vendors can be a daunting undertaking. CHEP offers a proven platform and supply chain expertise required for that kind of international flow solution.

Also read: Standard Pallet Sizes in Inches and Centimeters; the Strategic Importance of Choosing the Right Size

Looking toward greater standardization of inbound import pallets, CHEP and SAQ began a pilot program. First Italian suppliers transitioned to the CHEP 48×40-inch pallet, followed by vendors in France, Spain and Portugal.

“We are pleased to have extended our partnership with CHEP,” says Raymond Plantade, Director at AdVini.  AdVini, a leading French terroir wine producer, was an early adapter “Thanks to this new collaboration, our company joined an eco-friendly program to better serve our supply chain.”

“We are extremely satisfied about CHEP being a sustainable alternative for shipments overseas,” says Francesco Coppola, Supply Chain Manager, Gruppo Italiano Vini.

The pilots quickly proved successful, delivering time and cost efficiencies, reduced damage, greater sustainability and increased productivity.

SAQ enjoyed several benefits resulting from the conversion to CHEP pallets. These included:

  • Gained ability to convert 90% of the international flows.
  • Closed the loop with customers on the other side of the world to save more than 35,000 metric tons of CO2e and 36,000 empty miles in the first year.
  • Eliminated the need to repalletize the alcohol shipped to SAQ resulting in less product damage, time savings and a safer work environment.

“Our work has always eliminated waste throughout the supply chain,” says Paola Floris, Vice President and General Manager, CHEP Canada. ”Using CHEP’s pooled pallets enabled SAQ, AdVini and Gruppo Italiano Vini to remove whitewood pallets from their operations, along with thousands of empty miles in the supply chain. It’s a great example of how productive collaboration contributes to a smarter, more sustainable future.”

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