Is Racking Just Racking? Not All Pallet Racks Are Created Equal.

Things You May Want to Consider Before Purchasing Offshore Pallet Racks

When a pallet racking offer lands on your desk, you must ask yourself:

  • Where is this coming from?

  • Who made this?

  • Who is accountable for the process of making, painting, and engineering?

  • Who are you supporting with your hard-earned capital?

  • Is racking just racking?

When it comes to purchasing pallet racking for your company, there is a lot more that needs to be considered than cost alone. Below, we will explain why knowing the answers to the questions we asked above is important to your company, even if it means spending a little more on the pallet racking.

Pallet Racking and the Transparency of Domestic Manufacturing

Here is an interesting piece of trivia about warehouse storage:

In the US over the last decade, there has been 1 billion square feet of US inventory space created and yet that accounts for only 11% of the country’s total inventory space of 9.1 billion square feet.

Where is the rest of it? Look up, way up. It is stacked high in warehouses which get higher every year.

This may be a US statistic, but we can easily draw comparisons to the BC Lower Mainland. New warehouses take advantage of what little land we have available and reach ever further into the sky in an effort to address the enormous volume of goods and consumables that pass through Vancouver ports each year.

So, what is holding it up? Pallet racking of course! It is manufactured all over the world and, over the last decade, distributors have found that racking sourced from overseas can be packed into container ships and assembled here, leaving room for enormous profit margins.

Why is that?


The price of foreign steel and racking production is 50%- 65% of North American suppliers. This is a result of many factors domestic mills must accommodate in their pricing, including costs of raw goods, power, transport, tax burden, wages, and health care for its workers. Add in foreign government incentives or in some cases, ownership of steel mills, you can see how the price gap quickly widens.

Lighter Steel

If imported beams were constructed with the same steel thickness as domestic manufacturer’s, they would reach the container’s weight limit before it was filled with product. To address this, foreign rack manufacturers favour using thinner steel gauges (thickness) to ensure they can fill the shipping container, at the expense of a lower capacity. Unless you measure the steel gauge, you cannot tell since steel thickness is not marked on the beams.

Canadian Code Vs. The World

Some countries have long-established pallet racking testing and building codes which hold importers accountable to meet a minimum steel and product strength and documented steel composition. While Canada has only recently introduced a pallet racking code, domestic manufacturers have been working to a design code we all agree is in the best interests of public safety. There are no pallet racking manufacturers outside of North America that participate in these discussions, so what standards are they building to?


Canada currently has no tariffs on Asian pallet racking. Other countries have imposed tariffs on importing pallet racking in the range of 32%-45% to address what customs investigations determined were “dumping” price practices, and “non-repayable government loans” within the industry. While the US has these protections in place, Canada does not, for now.

Accountability to the Customer

Canadian manufacturers voluntarily invest money in research, improved safety standards, and best practices in the field of health and safety, as well as the wellness of our Canadian employees and customers like you. They remain available for you as a resource for design and, in the event of a WorkSafe BC visit to your facility, are there to ensure your facility can be made compliant.

Is One Rack as Good as the Next?

Ask yourself, if you were buying fish for your family, are you more likely to buy confidently off the pier in Steveston, or from a freezer package that came in a container from overseas? Why? It might be because one source is inherently more transparent in the process to which it made its way to you, the consumer. As you get further away from seeing the process, eventually one would be forgiven for thinking one fish is as good as the next.