Brazilian cold chain panorama

An article from the International Journal of Refrigeration presents a few figures about the infrastructure, energy sources and expenditure of the Brazilian cold chain.
In an article published in the International Journal of Refrigeration in June, Cirilo Seppi Bresolin et al. give an overview of relevant aspects concerning the Brazilian cold chain, such as infrastructure, energy sources and expenditure, legislation and technology. The cold chain includes different processes, from food harvesting or slaughter, pre-cooling, processing, storage, transport and distribution, to retail and domestic refrigeration.

Regarding food consumption and production, the authors selected representative products to assess the cold chain and estimated the Brazilian production and consumption for each one of them. For example, Brazil produces approximately 24 million tons of frozen products per year, such as poultry, beef, or pork products. Southern Brazil accounts for 45.3 % of the country's total production for these commodities.

Brazil also produces 18.1 million tons of chilled products per year, including lettuces, potatoes, cabbages, oranges and melons, among other commodities. The Southeast region of Brazil is the largest producer for these crops, accounting for 70.7 % of the total production.

The annual production of mild chilled products such as pineapples, bananas or mangos is estimated at 9.6 million tons, the Northeast region of Brazil being the greatest contributor with 41.41 % of the total production.

Data on the consumption of frozen, chilled or mild chilled products is also given. They show that the Southeast region is the biggest consumer of all kinds of food.

The refrigerated storage capacity in Brazil in 2010 was around 5.71 million m3 with 95.05 % available for rent. But this capacity has tripled in 5 years, reaching 16.05 million m3 in large facilities.The authors compared the annual growth rate of the refrigerated volumetric capacity in different countries and found that Brazil showed the biggest increase, with a rise of 29.5 % between 2010 and 2014 (compared to 5.6 % for India, the country showing the second biggest annual growth rate). But there is still a deficit in Brazilian refrigerated storage capacity estimated at 38.5 million m3.

As for transport,  61.8 % of goods are transported by road, followed by 19.5 % by railway, 13.8 % by maritime transport and 4.9 % by plane. The fleet of refrigerated vehicles is estimated to be around 7,500 vehicles for internal distribution, 43% of which are long-haul trunks and 57% short-haul trunks.

The question of energy is a crucial factor in the cold chain, but there is a lack of data for Brazil. Nevertheless the authors found that the consumption of electricity for refrigeration processes was estimated at 24.5 Tj in 2014, in comparison with 0.15 Tj from fuel oil. Based on the Energy Efficiency Index, a 12.2% decrease of electricity consumption was observed.

There is no unified legislation for the cold chain in Brazil, but governmental organizations help to control its quality through ordinances or resolution acts. Brazil is also subject to foreign legislation and is therefore required to maintain its cold chain at an adequate quality standard.

The article is available in Fridoc, free for charge for members within their quotas of download.