Expansion of cold chain facilities in hot countries

Effective cold-chain logistics are essential for the economic growth of hot countries. In Africa, Asia, as well as the Middle East, various stakeholders are engaged in setting up cold storage refrigeration warehouses and temperature-controlled transport. These newly inaugurated refrigeration facilities pave way for global trade opportunities.

According to an IIR Informatory Note to be published soon, over 17% of perishable food produced in developing countries is lost due to a lack of refrigeration [1]. Therefore, effective cold-chain logistics that connect producers to consumers in a timely manner are key to reducing food loss.

In India, the economy of Uttar Pradesh state relies solely on its agricultural products, which are in high demand locally and in the global market. The government aims at setting up a hub of container logistics to further unlock the potential for trade offered by the region.

A step towards that goal has recently been achieved: the first end-to-end refrigerated shipment of green chillies from Uttar Pradesh to UAE was delivered by Maerks in a record time of 9 days [2]. Accurate monitoring of the temperature of the cargo and tracking of the container were required for successful completion of the refrigerated shipment. The company worked in close partnership with various stakeholders and with the Agricultural and Processed Food Exports Development Authority (APEDA), the apex organization under the Indian Ministry of Commerce and Industry, responsible for the export promotion of agricultural products.

Initiatives from the private and the public sector along with proper regulations are necessary to promote efficient solutions for better refrigeration facilities.

In Oman, a decision issued by the Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries now prohibits transport of agricultural products in non-refrigerated trucks [3]. As of 1st February 2020, the import and export of all agricultural products through the border posts must be in refrigerated trucks. Moreover, refrigerated vehicles should be used exclusively for transporting food and agricultural products and must be equipped with devices allowing readings of temperature and humidity from the outside.

The expansion of cold-chain capacity in hot countries clearly ties in with social and economic benefits. As a result, refrigeration equipment is growing.

In Ethiopia, the Ethiopian Pharmaceutical Fund Supply Agency (EPSA) has inaugurated a cold chain warehouse featuring three independent cold rooms [4]. Each cold room has a storage capacity of 300 cubic metres and operates at temperature ranges from 2 to 8 °C.

This warehouse is intended for the storage of pharmaceutical items like vaccine, insulin, laboratory reagents and other temperature-sensitive medical equipment. Spare parts for the cold rooms are donated by United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF).

In Rwanda, DP World has opened the country’s first cold storage in the Kigali Logistics Platform [5]. The new facility should benefit Rwanda’s economy by expanding the range of fresh produce that can be exported, beyond tea and coffee. Compliant with global health, safety and environmental standards, this cold chain supply solution will enable greater volumes of imports and exports. This should attract investment from companies from various sectors such as fast-moving consumer goods, healthcare and hospitality.

Several local and multi-national companies have already signed up to use the new 500-square meter cold storage and DP World plans to expand capacity to 1000 square meter in 2021.

In the Philippines, the cold storage industry is expanding to meet the needs of a growing population [6]. Consequently, new companies, both local and foreign, are entering the Philippine cold-chain market. There is an increasing number of cold-storage facilities built on the outskirts of main cities and companies need to be cost competitive. Given the high cost of electricity, companies must also keep up with new technologies in order to offer cost-effective refrigeration systems with lower power consumption.

Looking into the importance of the latest technology and its application to food and health security in hot countries is one of the many objectives of the IIR working group on “The Cold Chain in Hot Countries”. Lead by Halima Thraya, Tunisian delegate of the IIR, the working group has recently participated in the preparation of the 6th IIR Informatory Note on Refrigeration and Food.[1]

Overall, cold chain logistics represent a global challenge and all countries need to implement efficient and sustainable refrigeration facilities. The 6th IIR Conference on Sustainability and the Cold Chain will address these issues, bringing together all cold chain stakeholders.

1. IIR, 6th Informatory Note on Refrigeration and Food “The Role of Refrigeration in Worldwide Nutrition” (to be published).

2. India. https://economictimes.indiatimes.com/industry/transportation/shipping-/-transport/in-first-trial-of-end-to-end-refrigerated-shipments-maersk-helps-chillies-from-varanasi-reach-uae-in-9-days/articleshow/73271964.cms

3. Oman. https://www.zawya.com/mena/en/legal/story/Food_products_can_be_transported_in_Oman_only_in_refrigerated_trucks_from_February-SNG_165106189/

4. Ethiopia. https://reliefweb.int/report/ethiopia/epsa-inaugurates-chill-hub-state-art-cold-chain

5. Rwanda. https://www.logisticsmiddleeast.com/34982-dp-world-expands-rwandas-consumer-goods-portfolio-while-enabling-greater-trade-investment

6. The Philippines. http://www.r744.com/articles/9350/industrial_contractor_gnq_sees_opportunity_in_the_philippines