Cold Chain Industry : Key Factors behind Market’s Rapid Growth

The cold chain market refers to the infrastructure and logistics involved in maintaining the integrity and freshness of perishable products, typically food and pharmaceuticals, throughout the supply chain. This process involves temperature-controlled storage, transportation, and distribution to ensure that products remain within specified temperature ranges from the point of origin to the point of consumption. The global cold chain market is on a trajectory of significant expansion, with an estimated value projected to reach USD 372.0 billion by 2029 from the 2024 valuation of USD 228.3 billion, displaying a promising Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) of 10.3%. The cold chain refers to a series of temperature-controlled processes, facilities, and logistics used to ensure the integrity and quality of perishable goods throughout their journey from production to consumption. It encompasses refrigeration, freezing, and controlled atmosphere technologies to maintain specific temperature and humidity levels.

Key components of the cold chain market include refrigerated storage facilities, refrigerated transport vehicles (such as trucks, ships, and airplanes), temperature monitoring devices, and packaging materials designed to insulate and protect perishable goods.

The growth of the cold chain industry is driven by several factors:

  1. Increasing demand for perishable goods: With changing consumer preferences and dietary habits, there is a growing demand for perishable products such as fresh fruits and vegetables, dairy products, seafood, meat, and pharmaceuticals that require temperature-controlled storage and transportation.
  2. Globalization of supply chains: As supply chains become increasingly globalized, there is a need for efficient cold chain logistics to ensure that perishable products can be transported over long distances without compromising quality and safety.
  3. Stringent food safety regulations: Governments and regulatory bodies around the world have implemented strict regulations governing the handling and transportation of perishable goods to ensure food safety and quality. Compliance with these regulations drives the adoption of cold chain solutions by food producers, distributors, and retailers.
  4. Technological advancements: Advances in refrigeration technology, temperature monitoring systems, and packaging materials have improved the efficiency and reliability of cold chain logistics, reducing product losses and ensuring product quality throughout the supply chain.
  5. Growing pharmaceutical industry: The pharmaceutical industry relies heavily on cold chain logistics to transport temperature-sensitive drugs and vaccines safely and effectively. With the increasing demand for healthcare products, especially biologics and vaccines, the pharmaceutical cold chain market is expected to witness significant growth.

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India is poised to witness the fastest growth within the Asia Pacific cold chain market during the forecast period.

India stands as a significant producer and consumer of dairy products, particularly milk and curd. With a burgeoning population and a cultural inclination towards dairy consumption, the demand for efficient cold chain logistics to maintain product integrity from farm to table is imperative. As per a May 2023 report from Slurrp, India boasts a significantly higher milk consumption rate compared to the global average, with nearly half of its population (48.1%) regularly consuming milk or curd. The increasing demand for dairy products in India can be linked to its fast urbanization and improving living standards. India’s daily milk consumption stands at 427 g, well above the global average of 305 g.

Moreover, India’s rapid industrialization has spurred the growth of various sectors, including pharmaceuticals, processed food, and agriculture. These industries heavily rely on cold chain solutions to preserve the quality and safety of their products. Additionally, the proliferation of Quick Service Restaurants (QSRs) and the changing dietary habits of the urban populace have fueled the demand for frozen and chilled food products. As per a report from the credit rating agency ICRA, the Indian Quick Service Restaurant (QSR) sector is projected to experience growth ranging between 20% to 25% during the fiscal year 2024.This surge in demand necessitates robust cold chain systems to ensure the seamless delivery of perishable goods, thereby propelling the expansion of the cold chain market in India.

Increasing international trade has significantly fueled the demand for the cold chain market at the highest CAGR.

With reduced trade barriers and interconnected supply chains, perishable goods like fruits, vegetables, and pharmaceuticals are transported across borders, necessitating temperature-controlled environments. In 2022, the USDA reported that the total export value of baked goods from the US amounted to USD 4.21 billion, with a volume of 1 million metric tons, reflecting a 1.7% compound annual growth rate from 2013 to 2022. Notably, there was substantial year-over-year growth compared to 2021, when the total export value was USD 3.73 billion. Canada led as the top market for US baked goods in 2022, with a value of USD 2.70 billion, followed by Mexico, Japan, South Korea, and the Philippines.

Furthermore, in November 2023, NFUonline reported that the UK Government initiated the UK Dairy Export Programme, allocating USD 1.2 million to support farmers in enhancing the global export of British dairy products. This commitment, announced by the Prime Minister in May 2023, reflects the government’s strong backing for the dairy sector. The programme aims to create new opportunities for businesses worldwide. Currently, the UK dairy industry exports goods worth over USD 2.47 billion annually to 135 countries, and this initiative is anticipated to bolster its global standing further. Such export-focused endeavors in the dairy sector have the potential to significantly influence the cold chain market.

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Social media play pivotal role in this phenomenon by facilitating the dissemination of information and trends. Influencers, bloggers, and online platforms showcase diverse cuisines, products, and lifestyles, sparking curiosity and demand in previously untapped markets. For instance, the promotion of use of butter and cheese in various cuisines through social media channels has sparked a newfound fascination in Asian countries, where traditionally these dairy products held less prominence. In 2022, China experienced a 7% increase in butter imports, driven mainly by increased demand from the bakery industry, according to the FAO. This cultural exchange fueled by digital platforms propels the demand for perishable goods, necessitating efficient cold chain logistics to ensure freshness and quality during transportation.

Market Opportunities: Intermodal transport to save fuel costs

Intermodal transport has emerged as a pivotal solution in the cold chain market due to its unparalleled ability to optimize fuel costs. Cold chain logistics demands a delicate balance between temperature control and efficiency. Intermodal transport achieves this balance by seamlessly integrating multiple modes of transportation, such as trucks, trains, and ships, to deliver goods to their destination. By strategically combining different transport modes based on their strengths and cost-effectiveness, companies can minimize fuel consumption. For instance, trains are substantially more fuel-efficient than trucks over long distances, while trucks offer flexibility and accessibility for last-mile delivery. By leveraging these strengths, businesses can significantly reduce their overall fuel expenditure, thereby enhancing cost-effectiveness in the cold chain market.

Moreover, intermodal transport fosters sustainability, a growing concern in modern supply chain management. By optimizing fuel usage, companies not only cut costs but also reduce their carbon footprint. This aligns with increasingly stringent environmental regulations and consumer preferences for eco-friendly practices.

Major players profiled

  • Americold Logistics, Inc. (US)
  • Lineage, Inc. (US)
  • Burris Logistics (US)
  • A.P. Moller – Maersk (Denmark)
  • United States Cold Storage (US)
  • Tippmann Group (US)
  • Coldman Logistics Pvt.Ltd. (India)
  • CONGEBEC (Canada)
  • NewCold (Netherlands)
  • Seafrigo Group (France)
  • Trenton Cold Storage (Canada)
  • Blue Water Shipping (Denmark)