What is going on in the cold chain this year?
Consumers are driving change and growth in the cold chain industry. This means SKU proliferation, faster inventory turns and an increased need for real time data transparency and fast shipments. More individual orders, processed and delivered faster is now the norm. Development and adoption of innovative new temperature-sensitive biologic pharmaceuticals is increasing the need for refrigerated transportation, transparency and cold storage warehousing as well as for new technologies to monitor and safeguard products. The labor shortage continues and the investment in new technologies to compensate advances. Third party refrigerated warehouses have increased the range of value added services that they provide to shippers. Cold storage warehouse operators have become increasingly aware of and invested in reducing energy consumption and adopting sustainable operations. The continued incidence of foodborne illness is a major issue in the cold chain industry. Problems with insufficient worker training, precooling, transportation ground operations and commercial handling practices remain weaknesses. The projected increase in online grocery sales is fueling demand for more cold storage warehouse space. An FMI/Nielsen report indicates a projected pattern of growth from $19 billion to $100 billion by 2024. Current U.S. cold storage warehouse occupancy rates already top 85%. Location of refrigerated warehouses tends to be near population centers, agricultural areas and at or adjacent to centers of consolidation. This is to reduce transit time to consumers and take advantage of ways to reduce cost. The cold storage warehouse industry remains dominated by the top 10 operators which own 80% of the market.