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

While the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s most recent report on cold storage capacity shows a drop in overall numbers, there’s no lack of examples in the fresh produce supply chain suggesting that sector is seeing growth.

According to the Capacity of Refrigerated Warehouses 2017 report from the National Agricultural Statistics Service — the 50th biennial report — released in January, the gross refrigerated storage capacity in the U.S. totaled 3.6 billion cubic feet on Oct. 1, 2017.

The previous report, released in early 2016, put that capacity at 4.17 billion cubic feet.

That number doesn’t specifically target fresh fruits and vegetables, and includes freezer space for frozen foods.

News from numerous distributors and ports, however, detail a growing trend of expansion throughout the country that benefits the fresh produce supply chain.

At the Port of Oakland, Calif., the 283,000-square-foot refrigerated distribution center known as Cool Port Oakland is scheduled to open this summer.

Operated by Lineage Logistics and Dreisbach Enterprises, the facility is designed to, in part, spur exports of Midwest pork and beef, but fresh fruit exporters will see some benefits, said the port’s director of communications, Mike Zampa.

According to port statistics, nearly 103,500 20-foot-equivalent (TEU) container units of fruit were exported at Oakland in 2017, worth $4.6 billion, a 44% increase from 2013. Fresh fruit imports in 2017 were worth $1.5 billion, up 16% from 2013.

Zampa credited the port’s proximity to the Salinas Valley and California production areas. Almonds, oranges and grapes led the specialty crop exports.

“We’re making the case that the most convenient and cost-effective way (to Asian markets) is through Oakland,” Zampa said.

Other notable cold storage projects under construction or recently opened include:

 

Henningsen Cold Storage

Henningsen plans to open a 5-million-cubic foot facility in Grandview, Wash., this summer.

The facility will be close to apple, pear and potato production areas, with a capacity of more than 20,000 pallet positions.

 

Brothers Produce

Houston-based Brothers Produce is adding cold storage space for a total of 65,000 square feet.

Some storage at the company will be dedicated to Brother Produce’s restaurant storage and distribution business.

 

Americold

Late last year, Americold opened a 9.5-million-cubic-foot warehouse in Clearfield, Utah, bringing total space to almost 21 million cubic feet.

Americold facilities in Rochelle, Ill., and Middleborough, Mass. (an Ocean Spray plant) are also in the works.

 

Divine Flavor

Nogales distributor Divine Flavor has scheduled a grand opening May 22 for its $7.5 million cold storage project, which includes seven cold rooms and an inspection area.

 

Lineage Logistics

Lineage Logistics broke ground on an addition to its Sunnyvale, Texas, warehousing and distribution facility in the Dallas-Ft. Worth area recently, according to a news release.

The 94,000-plus square-foot addition will bring the company’s total space there to 311,885 square feet.

 

Evergreen Cold Storage

In mid-February, Evergreen Cold Storage, Pharr, Texas, broke ground on a new 283,000-square-foot facility to be built in three phases: a 117,000-square-foot warehouse to be completed in December, a 96,000-square-foot warehouse, and a 13,000-square-foot commercial area, to be completed in December 2020.

 
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