Cold storage vital to supply chain resilience

Reading, UK: Cold storage in the UK accounts for 12% of total warehouse space with a further 1.551m sq m) currently under construction, according to a new report by Savills, undertaken in collaboration with the Cold Chain Federation.

Brexit and the Covid-19 pandemic have placed significant emphasis on supply chain resilience and the shift from a ‘just in time’ to a ‘just in case’ model. “Consequently, having a clearer picture of cold storage capacity will be essential to understanding the role it can play in meeting consumer demand, which will help to manage current and ongoing economic uncertainties,” the federation says.

Savills calculates that there are 678 warehouse units with cold storage space over 50,000 4,600sq m) in the UK, equating to 12.449m sq m, 29% of which are in Yorkshire and the North West. A further 22 units, currently under construction are set to contain cold storage.

The Cold Chain Federation says that as well as boosting cold storage capacity, the addition of the new energy-efficient infrastructure that is under construction will help the industry towards its net zero future in line with the government’s 2050 target.

As a result, there is growing evidence of significant investment in to the UK cold storage market. For example, operator NewCold’s purchase of a site in Corby, which will result in one of Europe’s largest, coldstores.

But there still remains a lack of supply. Given current consumer demand and Savills research shows that on a per capita basis, each household in the UK requires 0.46sq m) of cold storage. According to Savills, taking the country’s current housing requirement of 337,235 new homes every year into consideration, could see a need for an additional 785,030msq m of extra cold storage space over the next five years, even before a potential increase in demand from structural changes associated with both Brexit and Covid-19.
Kevin Mofid, head of industrial research, Savills, says: “Recent macro events have proven the importance of knowing just how much capacity the UK has when it comes to cold storage and what’s clear is that right now we simply don’t have enough to cater for growing demand. However, the data gleaned from this report is a step in the right direction when it comes to tackling some of these problems, in particular the lack of supply that the industry currently faces.”
Shane Brennan, chief executive, Cold Chain Federation, says: “The UK cold storage sector is buoyant and growing, it has seen plenty of international investment in recent years and the challenges of Covid and Brexit stockpiling have underlined just how vital this service is to national food supply.
“In an era of change, this report marks the start of a Cold Chain Federation programme to build crucial insight into the existing UK cold storage estate and the opportunities it presents for investors, operators and customers now, and in the net zero economy of the future.”

The new research has been released as part of Cold Chain Live! Towards a Net Zero Cold Chain, the Cold Chain Federation’s four week event.


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