24 Dec 2015

Perspective on India's Cold-chain

India has developed an enviable capacity in the cold storage format across the country. As per the 2014 report of IARW (International Association of Refrigerated Warehouses), India had 131 million cubic metres in cold storage capacity, overtaking USA which has 115 million cubic metres. China has the third largest capacity globally with about 76 million cubic metres in cold storage space. The worldwide capacity in refrigerated warehouses was reported as 552 million cubic metres in this report by IARW. Between May 2014 and July of 2015, India added another 200 units or a little more than one million tons to its cold storage space. Though about 5% of the facilities may have become obsolete over the years, India can now lay claim to having created almost 7200 cold stores equivalent to about 33 million tons in holding size, most of these over the past decade.

The distribution of these refrigerated stores is mainly in producing areas, focused on bulk storage of long term holding farm produce. This development has helped single season harvests of crops like potatoes and apples to be traded all across the year. A major success story is the case of potatoes, which though native to Peru, have become a staple food item in India, thanks to cold stores. In case of dried chillies too, the opportunity to trade across seasons opened up as their holding life extended in cold-stores.

India’s current capacity in cold stores is also used to service market demand for the “cannot-do-without” segment like ice-creams and frozen or processed products. These products cannot exist, without cold stores, refrigerated vehicles and deep freeze cabinets at point of sales.