As you might already know, we have been in the business of providing refrigerated delivery services for over a decade now – which means that we know all there is to know about chilled and ambient storage. We do appreciate however that the difference between the two isn’t always clear and it can be confusing to know on some occasions which one you need.

If this is a question you’ve been asking yourself, read on to find out what the difference actually is.

The basics

There does exist a very basic answer to the question, what’s the difference between chilled and ambient storage? Essentially, it comes down to temperature. Of course, storing perishable products and items such as medicine means that a very specific temperature must be maintained so that the goods remain in prime condition for the end consumer. The temperature your products must be stored at determines whether you need chilled or ambient storage solutions.

Chilled storage

Chilled storage means that the goods to be stored are required to be refrigerated below 8° C. Typically, this will cover food items such as read to eat sandwiches, chilled rather than frozen ready meals, foods that have a use-by date such as dairy products, fresh meats and any other item that must be refrigerated. Chilled storage, as it keeps the item below 8° C prevents harmful bacteria from developing, which could make the eventual consumer sick.

Chilled storage is an important part of the distribution and logistics process as it keeps the product in the correct, safe and high-quality state in which it was initially shipped. This ensures that the product reaches the end consumer at the highest possible quality, without any potential for harmful bacteria to grow.

Chilled storage facilities are required to undergo regular temperature checks to ensure that the correct conditions are being maintained to inhibit harmful bacteria growth. These are typically carried out by the BRC (British Retail Consortium).

Ambient storage

Ambient storage differs from chilled storage in temperature – whereas chilled storage requires goods to be kept below 8° C, ambient storage keeps products at room temperature rather than refrigerated. A typical ambient storage facility will be around 15° C but maybe as warm as around 25° C.

Ambient storage isn’t suitable for many fresh products as we have seen above, because it isn’t cool enough to prevent bacteria from developing, but it is appropriate for items such as canned foods or rice and grains which do not need to be kept chilled to remain safe for consumption.