Construction was underway in mid-April on Americold’s new facility in Rochelle, Ill. ( Courtesy Americold )

As consolidation in the U.S. cold storage industry continues, the amount of space available for the fresh produce supply chain and other refrigerated goods continues to grow.

According to the 2018 Global Cold Chain Alliance Global Cold Storage Capacity report, the U.S. refrigerated warehouse capacity in 2018 is 131 million cubic meters, up from 118 million in 2016 and 115 million in 2014, according to the report.

That puts overall facility space in the U.S. between leading country India, with 150 million cubic meters, and China, at 105 million cubic meters, according to the report.

The report was prepared by Victoria Salin, a professor in the Department of Agricultural Economics at Texas A&M University, for the International Association of Refrigerated Warehouses, a core partner of the Global Cold Chain Alliance.

Of all cold storage facilities, the percentage of public for-hire cold storage facilities in 2017 was just under 85%, which is higher than all previous surveys by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, which started reporting the number in 1955. 

That first year, the percentage was in the low 80s and had not reached that number since 2017.

Advanced cold storage technologies that offer beneficial features, such as advanced refrigeration technologies and monitoring and tracking systems of various products like fruits and vegetables, significantly mitigate the possibility of wastage of temperature-sensitive goods.

The average size of the 1,154 for-hire refrigerated warehouses in the U.S. is 113,487 cubic meters, according to the report.

The USDA’s cold storage surveys have changed to include only facilities that store product for four weeks. Because of this, the alliance relied mostly on its own reporting to provide continuity for the report, which is released every two years. 

The report focuses on public (for hire) warehouses, regardless of how long products are stored, according to the report’s summary.

Other recent studies are optimistic about the growth of square footage in North America, driven in part by the need for fresh perishables that are in demand by consumers’ pursuit of healthy lifestyles. 

According to a cold storage report from Grand View Research released in April, the North American cold storage market is estimated to reach $68.23 billion by 2025, which is at a compound annual growth rate of almost 10% during that time.

“Technological advancements in cold storage warehouses are stimulating the growth of the market,” according to a summary of the report. 

“Increasing automation is changing the conventional warehouse operations, enabling companies to maximize their output. Growing penetration of robotics applications, automated material handling equipment, and high-speed conveyor systems help in achieving the order accuracy.”

Another Grand View Research study, released in September, reports that the “U.S. is widely regarded as one of the leading markets in developing technologies responsible for effective management of cold storage processes.”

“Advanced cold storage technologies that offer beneficial features, such as advanced refrigeration technologies and monitoring and tracking systems of various products like fruits and vegetables, significantly mitigate the possibility of wastage of temperature-sensitive goods,” according to the report, a market analysis by warehouse type, construction type, temperature type and application. 

 
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