Understanding the global cold chain

The cold chain is an important part of the global supply chain, enabling the transportation of temperature-sensitive goods around the world.

It encompasses all aspects of handling these goods, from production or harvesting through to retail, including storage, packaging and shipping.

In our latest eBook, we provide an overview of the dimensions and importance of the global and regional cold chains and outline the key components involved.

The worldwide dimensions of the cold chain are significant. The global cold chain logistics market is expected to grow significantly in the coming years, driven by rising consumer demand for perishables and processed food products. The market was worth nearly 248.4 billion U.S. dollars in 2020 and is expected to exceed 410 billion U.S. dollars by 2028. North America was the largest cold chain market in 2021, accounting for 37% of the global market.

The European cold chain logistics market is expected to reach 112.8 billion U.S. dollars by 2025, driven by factors such as the increasing popularity of online grocery shopping and the expansion of e-commerce.

However, the market faces some challenges, such as the emission of greenhouse gases from refrigeration units, CO2 production by diesel gensets, and food waste. Consequently, the industry is continually looking for both economic and environmental solutions.


New Zealand as an example: significance of cold chain for a national economy

The cold chain is a vital part of New Zealand’s economy, as it is responsible for storing and transporting food products that are exported worldwide. Today, approximately 45% of all exports from New Zealand are food products or by-products, and an estimated 60% of these are exported in the refrigerated state. The leading food sectors in terms of volume and income are the dairy industry, the red meat industry, the horticultural industry and the seafood industry.

New Zealand food exports form part of some of the longest cold chains in the world.

New Zealand’s export activity has been extremely successful in recent years. In particular, the country’s food and beverage exports have grown significantly, partly due to the demand for healthy and organic products from overseas markets. This success has led to increased demand for cold storage space in New Zealand as more businesses look to store their products in a safe and secure environment.

In recent years, there has been an increase in demand for cold storage space in New Zealand, due to the growth of the export industry and the rise in online grocery and food delivery. However, because of the specialised nature of the sector, developing purpose-built cold storage facilities is expensive and requires significant ongoing maintenance costs. Supermarkets are investing heavily to create more resilient supply chains and reduce travel and delivery times. This trend is only expected to grow in the coming years, so the demand for cold storage space will likely continue to increase.

The outbreak of COVID-19 has significantly impacted the demand for cold storage space in New Zealand. The need to store vaccines and other medical supplies has increased demand as businesses seek to ensure that their products are safe and secure. As a result, prices for cold storage space in New Zealand have increased.