Publication : TCBU Editorial

Exploring the emerging need for cold chain warehousing, Sushil Teotia, AVP, Bry-Air, states to ensure the delivery of superior quality medicines and pharmaceutical products, proper storage and transportation are essential to minimise spoilage, necessitating growth in demand for cold chain warehousing.

What emerging factors are driving the demand for cold chain warehousing in India?

Due to the constantly changing consumer dynamics, cold chain warehousing is on the brink of significant growth and progress. As an agricultural country, India is responsible for meeting the demands of its rapidly increasing population. The country’s diverse nature necessitates the transportation of perishable goods between states, which creates a need for efficient cold storage facilities. To address this demand, industries must prioritise the development of robust active and passive cold storage infrastructure supported by advanced dehumidification solutions. Establishing a strong network of high-quality storage facilities and warehouses is crucial.

Moreover, India is a notable exporter of premium products such as mushrooms, apples, mangoes, cherries, and broccoli. The country is also emerging as a significant global hub for seafood, with states like Telangana, West Bengal, and Kerala being prominent exporters.

Additionally, consumer purchasing patterns have significantly shifted in recent years, with a growing preference for online food shopping and increased demand for meat and frozen products like prawns, lobsters, peas, and corn. Online food aggregators must ensure the seamless operation of storage warehouses and excellent cold storage facilities throughout their supply chains to guarantee safe, high quality, and hygienic food for consumers.

Furthermore, the pharmaceutical and flower industries are experiencing remarkable growth, further driving the need for cold chain warehousing. The demand for loose flowers has seen a steep increase, leading to the emergence of commercial floriculture as an industry. Flowers, valued for their aesthetics, social significance, and religious purposes, also find industrial applications due to their flavours, fragrances, natural colours, and medicinal value. In 2022, India produced over three million metric tons of floriculture produce, presenting new opportunities for cold chain warehousing facilities, particularly in states like Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh, West Bengal, and Andhra Pradesh. Additionally, India’s recognition as the “pharmacy of the world” and its expanding footprint in the international market place an inherent responsibility to meet the highest quality standards, including those set by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). To ensure the delivery of superior quality drugs, medicines, and pharmaceutical products, proper storage and transportation are essential to minimise the risk of spoilage. These factors collectively contribute to the growing demand for cold chain warehousing and emphasise the need for dehumidifiers to preserve the freshness and quality of the products.

What infrastructure innovations have occurred, given the increasing online demand for frozen commodities?

The cold chain industry has undergone significant changes due to the shift towards frozen commodities and the widespread use of technology. Automation has played a crucial role in upgrading various processes within the industry. Previously done manually, tasks such as sorting, grading, drying, and cleaning are now automated. Spoiled or decayed products can be separated automatically during sorting. Integrating innovative technologies like AI, ML, and IoT has enabled grading based on size, weight, diameter, and other factors. Packaging processes have also been automated, opening doors to agri-retailing.

Industry 4.0 has further improved operations by allowing real-time temperature and humidity monitoring using dehumidifiers. Remote monitoring of dehumidifiers facilitates efficient decision-making based on live data.

To enhance the shelf life of products, various solutions are available. Bry-Air offers compact desiccant dehumidifiers that control moisture, prevent ice buildup on evaporator coils, and minimise issues like fogging, slippery floors, and damaged cartons. This reduces wastage, accidents and improves operational efficiency.

The Bry-Air Ethylene Scrubber (BES) inhibits the over-ripening of fruits and vegetables. Ethylene, a major contributor to spoilage, is continuously removed from the air emitted by the produce.

Other offerings from the group include Treated Fresh Air (TFA) units, which help maintain proper CO2 levels and reduce energy consumption, and ARCTIC Coolers, which increase the ideal humidity (RH) value in passive cold stores over time.

How do you evaluate warehousing and logistics industry growth in India?

According to the IMARC report, the Indian cold chain market was valued at INR 1814.9 billion in 2022. With the growth of various industries, it is projected to reach INR 3798.7 billion by 2028, representing a growth rate of 12.3 percent from 2023 to 2028. The pharmaceutical industry’s international expansion emphasises the need for cold chain warehousing and logistics to ensure the quality of drugs and medicines throughout their shelf life.

The floriculture industry has also witnessed significant growth, with the market expected to reach INR 460.6 billion by 2028, growing at a rate of 13.1 percent from 2023 to 2028. Cold storage warehouses play a crucial role in preserving flowers, which are stored for some time after being harvested and procured. Additionally, beetle leaves, which are exported, require proper cold storage facilities to maintain their freshness during transportation.

The market is also evolving with the changing trends. To meet the seasonal demand, fruits, vegetables, grains, etc., are produced in bulk, following which it becomes a prerequisite to store them in warehouses. Consumers these days are very much aware they seek quality and hygienic products. Owing to this, there is a constant responsibility to increase the shelf life of the products so that the quality is kept intact for consumption. As a result, industries across the verticals are constantly looking for refrigeration warehouses that are well-equipped with advanced dehumidification technologies to maintain a certain temperature to enable cold storage in the warehouse.

What are the two types of storage options available in the industry?

Integrating advanced technologies like AI, ML, robotics, and IoT has revolutionised cold storage infrastructure, ensuring resilience and efficiency. The industry offers two types of storage: Active and Passive. Active cold storage caters to everyday products with dynamic storage applications and multiple temperature zones within a single warehouse. On the other hand, passive cold storage is designed for long-term storage of perishable goods.

How has the Pahwa Group contributed to improving efficient cold storage facilities?

With extensive expertise in dehumidification and quality air solutions, the Pahwa Group is at the forefront of establishing efficient cold storage facilities. Over time, the industry has made significant advancements, including installing air curtains to address air ingress issues. The manual operation of cold storage facilities has been replaced by digital technologies, leading to complete automation.

Energy efficiency and improved coefficient of performance are key focus areas for the industry. Embracing energy-efficient technologies, such as advanced-quality air and dehumidification solutions, can improve energy efficiency and significant electricity savings for cold storage facilities.

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