Cold Chain Market: Business Opportunities and Global Industry Analysis

Published Feb 28 


Rupali Patil
By Rupali Patil

93 Articles


The cold chain market was valued at USD 233.8 billion in 2020 and is projected to reach a value of USD 340.3 billion by 2025, growing at a CAGR of 7.8% in terms of value during the forecast period. The increasing need for temperature control to prevent food losses, growth in international trade owing to trade liberalization, along with the rising demand for perishable goods among consumers across the globe, is driving the growth of the cold chain market.

Market Dynamics:

Driver: Rising Consumer Demand for Perishable Goods

Consumers are now more aware of health and wellness, as well as the effect that food nutrients, especially protein, have on overall physical and mental growth and development. This has resulted in a change in the consumption pattern of perishable foods, such as dairy products, fruits and vegetables, and high-protein animal-based products (such as meat, eggs, and fish and seafood).

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Emerging economies in the Asia Pacific and Latin America are witnessing a high demand for perishable food products. This can be attributed to the rapid urbanization, changing tastes and preferences, and the rising disposable income of consumers in these countries. The market potential for processed and frozen food products is also high in these countries due to their lower adoption rates. The consumption of ready-to-eat meals, such as frozen pizzas, desserts, and snacks, is rising steadily in these countries.

Restraint: Environmental constraints regarding greenhouse gas emissions

Cold chain development places a significant burden on the environment since refrigeration is energy-intensive and is a source of greenhouse gases. Keeping products cold throughout the transportation phase of the cold chain (such as trucks, ships, and trains) accounts for around 7% of the global consumption of hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs). Also, diesel-powered transportation refrigeration units consume up to 21% more power than non-refrigerated diesel-powered trucks. This has significant implications on climate change, as the development of cold chains becomes more ubiquitous in developing countries.

Opportunity: Growth in the Organized Retail Sector

The development of retail channels and chains in the form of supermarkets, hypermarkets, and convenience stores is a major factor driving the growth of the cold chain market. Also, retail chains have developed to an extent where some of the producers have their own in-house refrigerated warehousing facilities. Large food retail chains such as Walmart, Tesco, Spar, and 7-Eleven are expanding their outlets in developed countries such as the UK, Germany, and the US, and in emerging markets such as China, Brazil, and Argentina. For instance, Walmart is the largest American multinational retail corporation with over 11,000 stores across 27 countries. It has a large fleet for the transportation of perishable goods and an effective distribution network. It also hires 3PL refrigerated warehousing service providers to efficiently transport perishable foods to its retail outlets. The emergence of such large retailers and their expanding operations in international trade are creating growth opportunities for the refrigerated warehousing and refrigerated transportation market. The figure below figure represents the high penetration of retail food sales in the high potential GCC market. Although the organized retail market is currently fragmented in this region, significant investment and entry of global retail chains in these countries are expected to boost market consolidation and simultaneously the retail sales penetration for food products.

Challenges: Lack of appropriate infrastructure in emerging markets

The cold chain industry is highly fragmented, mainly in the emerging markets across Asia, Africa, and South America. Cold chain service providers in these regions do not have the resources or the technology required to build high-quality cold chain facilities. Lack of proper food storage, processing, and cold chain logistics, together with weak organization and implementation of controls for compliance with standards, remains a serious challenge in these countries. From procurement to delivery at retail, service providers face many challenges in a cold chain network. Countries in Asia Pacific and South America lack efficient transport infrastructure and are not well connected. The missing links in these networks continue to constrain route choice, while insufficient capacity and the poor quality of infrastructure add costs and time to the transit. The cold chain systems in these markets are not integrated and compatible for use for multiple perishable commodities, which poses a major challenge to market growth.

By temperature type, the frozen segment to account for the larger share in the global market during the forecast period

Companies indulge in the freezing of the food products to enhance the shelf-life of the foods for making them inert. The freezing process slows down the biological and chemical reactions that promote the spoilage of the food. Frozen food locks in the nutrients in the food, making it more attractive than chilled foods. With the need for convenience, the demand for frozen products is growing among consumers. The increased demand for frozen foods is due to its consistent availability throughout the year in supermarkets, hypermarkets, and convenience stores.

Asia Pacific to account for the fastest-growing and largest market at a CAGR of 13.1% during the forecast period

The cold chain market in this region is estimated to witness robust growth propelled by the economic developments of countries such as China, India, Japan, and Australia. The shift of industrialization and investments in Asia Pacific has grown substantially over the past decade, especially in China and India, contributing to rapid economic growth. Countries such as India, Japan, China, and South Korea have a strong demand for dairy and meat products, which has led to the strong demand for preserving the quality and nutritive element in the products, which drive the market for cold chain in the region.

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Key Marker Players

Key players in this market include Americold Logistics (US), Lineage Logistics Holdings (US), Nichirei Corporation (Japan), Burris Logistics (US), Agro Merchants Group (US), Kloosterboer (Netherlands), United States Cold Storage (US), Tippmann Group (US), VersaCold Logistics Services (Canada), Henningsen Cold Storage Co. (US), Coldman (India), Congebec Inc. (Canada), Conestoga Cold Storage (Canada), NewCold (Netherlands), Hanson Logistics (US), Confederation Freezers (Canada), Seafrigo (France), Trenton Cold Storage (Canada), Merchants Terminal Corporation (US), and Stockhabo (Belgium).

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