Taking a walk through any supermarket and looking around at how many products need to be refrigerated or frozen offers an insight into how important and how prolific the need for cold storage is in the supply chain and logistics efforts of not only these supermarkets, but of businesses in general. It allows the safe and reliable transport of these items that require constant temperature control and makes it possible for affordable and highly available refrigerated items to be stocked at your local supermarket.

Like most things in our modern, technology-forward world, the world of cold storage in freight and logistics is evolving, and some new trends have started to develop in the industry. Keeping on top of these trends and embracing them is going to be critical for your business.

Customer Habits Drive Business Behaviour

There’s an enormous global awareness starting to emerge about the source and contents of our food. We’re all, as a collective, rejecting the inclusion of preservatives and the processing of food to make it shelf stable or last longer. The demand for fresh produce and organic food is driving an increase in the need for reliable cold storage and cold chain logistics. This need is evolving the industry, and many aspects of the cold chain are changing drastically to cater for this.

The Evolution of Product Packaging

The journey from the supermarket fridge to the consumer’s plate is often the weakest link in the chain, where these cold products suffer from exposure to being without refrigeration for extended periods – like in a shopping trolley, into a warm car and to the consumer’s home where they might be getting placed in a fridge that isn’t performing to standard. That’s why there has been an increasing focus and investigation on product packaging to increase insulation and negate the effects of this very last part of a product’s life. Packaging designed to keep a product cool for longer once it leaves the cold storage supply chain is a developing trend in the industry.

Cold Chains Are Global

As our planet gets smaller thanks to the ever-growing network of transport and supply chain logistics, cold storage is expanding globally. Using the same advancements in packaging that are being used on a smaller product scale, packaging that can keep products cold for 24 to 72 hours is finding its way into this global supply chain. Manufacturing plants are becoming more specialised too, as the ability to ship their products farther afield grows, which leads to leaner manufacturing and better quality overall. This global cold chain is an increasing trend and one that shows no signs of slowing.

Regulations Are Getting Stricter

Naturally, with the rise of global cold chain logistics, regulations on the movement and storage of these goods are on the rise with it. Temperature regulations and storage organisation is a key focus for many regulatory bodies. As such, commercial coldrooms are becoming a necessity for manufacturers in many industries. It’s not only food, after all, that now needs to be in a temperature-controlled environment. We’re also seeing tighter rules and regulations around the transportation of pharmaceuticals, particularly in the European Union and the United States. The need for temperature-controlled shipping and freight of medications and other pharmaceuticals means even more demand for this service and the formation and growth of third-party cold chain logistics.

The Increasing Reach of Third Parties

Outsourcing cold chain logistics is becoming more commonplace thanks to the expertise presented by these third-party logistics companies who focus on increasing both the efficiency and reliability of their cold chain logistics. Your business can stand to save on equipment and staffing by using a third party to handle logistics.

When linked back to the globalisation of the supply chain, and the need for regulations to be adhered to for import and export, making use of a third-party company that can assist with compliance with these regulations is going to simplify your supply chain greatly. The technology investment into this supply chain is quickly becoming apparent, with the introduction of last-minute labelling and packaging increasing the economy of shipping. The increased use of x-ray in these product shipping lines is also a testament to how much more seriously the industry is taking the safety and sustainability of cold storage logistics.

The demand for fresher, artisanal and locally produced goods is on the rise, and cold storage logistics has a huge role to play in this trend. As a whole, consumers are becoming far more conscious of what they’re eating, and shelf stable foods full of preservatives are being rejected in favour of these fresh and healthier alternatives. Keeping up with these demands means evolving your business models and embracing these new cold storage trends for your supply chain.

Ella Woodward, contributing writer