Classifying commodities

The stores are a vital part of any commercial kitchen. Did you know that at any given time the stores here can contain up to 900 unique items? Many of which have special storage requirements.

Fortunately, most commodities can be classified into one of three categories, making it easy to sort them ready for proper storage. The three categories are:


Perishable commodities

Perishable items

Perishable commodities are those commodities which deteriorate quickly when not stored properly. Perishable commodities usually require some sort of refrigerated storage.

Perishable commodities include:


Dairy products and eggs

Dairy products are those commodities, which are derived from or based upon milk, and include creams, yoghurts, butter, cheese and ice cream.

Milk needs to be stored in the refrigerator at a temperature between 3 to 4°C. If stored this way fresh milk will last about 10 days.

Cream, yoghurts, butter, cheese and eggs should also be stored at between 3 to 4°C. The shelf life of these products will vary depending on their method of manufacturing, and you should check individual use by dates on the packaging.

Ice cream needs to be kept frozen at a temperature of -18°C or below.

All dairy products need to be kept well sealed when in storage, otherwise they will absorb flavours from strong smelling foods around them.


Meat and poultry

Meat and poultry should be stored between 1 and 3°C. All meat and poultry should be stored on clean trays and covered with plastic wrap. You should never store raw and cooked foods on the same tray.

Meat can be stored in the cool room for 4-6 days, or if vacuum-sealed up to 12 weeks. Poultry can be kept for 3-4 days. If frozen, meat and poultry can be kept for up to six months.



Seafood has a very short shelf life and must be stored with extra care. It should be stored at 1°C. Unfortunately most cool rooms are not set for temperatures as low as this, so seafood should be wrapped in plastic film and stored in the coldest part of the cool room on a bed of crushed ice. If kept in these conditions seafood should last for 5 to 6 days.

Live seafood such as crabs and yabbies should be kept at temperatures between 1 to 3°C in sealed containers. Frozen seafood can be kept in the freezer for up to 3 months.


Cooked foods and leftovers

These are also considered perishable and should be stored in the cool room at between 3 to 4°C. Cooked foods should be covered before storage and need to be stored separate from raw foods and never on the same tray.

Always allow hot foods to completely cool prior to refrigeration.


Fruit and vegetables

Fruit and vegetables vary in their storage requirements, but as a general rule most fruit and vegetables should be stored between 5 and 9C. There are a couple of exceptions such as broccoli, which usually arrives packed on ice, and should be stored at 1°C, and tropical fruits such as bananas and pineapples which should be stored at around 18°C.

Because fruit and vegetables require a higher temperature storage (between 7 and 10°C) they are best kept in a separate cool room.

Lettuce should be stored in the cool room, where the temperature is below 5°C.

Root vegetables, such as carrots, potatoes and onions are classed as semi-perishable and do not require refrigeration.

Frozen vegetables and fruit are stored in a deep freezer where the temperature is set at -18°C or less.

Processed vegetables and fruit come in cans, jars, and packages. They should be stored on shelves in a cool dry room away from sunlight. It is important to rotate this stock.


Semi-perishable commodities

Semi-perishable items

Semi-perishable commodities are those that do not require refrigeration, but still have a limited shelf life. They include things like potatoes, onions, pumpkins and salamis.

These items are usually kept on shelves in the storeroom complex, where they get plenty of air circulation around them. Potatoes need to be kept away from light as they will start sprouting.


Non-perishable commodities

Non-perishable items

Technically speaking there is no such thing as non-perishable commodities, as all goods deteriorate overtime. But some commodities deteriorate so slowly that they are called non-perishable. Examples of non-perishable goods are:

  • flour

  • spices

  • canned foods

  • jars and bottles

  • nuts

  • dried packet goods, for example noodles and pasta

These items are usually kept in the drystore where they are kept cool and are protected from moisture contamination. Drygoods like flour, grains and pasta often come in bags or sacks, and are not safe from vermin or weevils and should be transferred to clean storage bins with tightly fitting lids. Some jars, such as caviar, are actually perishable and should be stored appropriately.

Alert icon

Once you open a can, bottle or jar, the contents become exposed to the air and start to deteriorate. The contents should then be treated as perishable and stored appropriately. Canned produce should be transferred to a clean container before storage.