Meeting coldstorage demand

London, UK: The UK’s coldstore’s capacity, usually finely balanced between supply and demand, has been thrown into disarray by the coronavirus pandemic.

Lack of UK capacity, with coldstores at capacity for most of the summer, has at times had severe consequences for food production. Earlier this year storage restrictions affected pork production already disrupted as exports to China slowed.

Other agricultural produce, peaking with the summer harvest season, placed yet more demand for coldstorage, particularly for frozen goods. Storage facilities are quickly filling up as many foodservice suppliers opt to freeze goods that cannot be redirected elsewhere. Meanwhile, food shipments continue to arrive at ports despite falling demand for many products.

It takes time to bring more coldstore capacity to market so demand is unlikely to let up for some time. Shane Brennan, chief executive, Cold Chain Federation, warns that businesses that do not traditionally use coldstorage are most likely to suffer as most operators will prioritise finding solutions for existing customers.

NewCold is to open a new deepfreeze warehouse on a 23-acre site in Corby, expected to be in operation October 2021. Jon Miles, country director, NewCold, said: “Since opening our first UK site in Wakefield five years ago, we have seen an increase in demand for our warehouse and transport services of over 150% and although the Wakefield plant is the largest of its kind in the country, handling 4,000,000 pallets annually and storing 143,000 at any given time, demand has outstripped supply,”

Miles says the Corby operation will enable NewCold to offer its services to customers for whom Wakefield may not have been geographically well-situated or who had run out of space. “The decision to build a second facility has been driven by an increasing wide-scale demand for storage and handling, while the number of deep-frozen storage facilities has reduced. This has seen coldstores at capacity during certain times over the last two years and the trend appears to be continuing, so we feel this is the right time to invest,” Miles says.

In 2015 NewCold made its first foray into the UK, opening an automated, 40m-high coldstore on a greenfield site in Wakefield, Yorkshire. NewCold, ranked number 8 in the Top 250 fastest growing companies in the Netherlands where it is based, last year begun construction of another automated coldstore in Montauban-de-Bretagne, near Rennes (pictured above) which at 700,000 cubic metres will be one of the largest in France. The coldstore operates at – 23°C and uses automated storage and retrieval systems. The multi-customer coldstore has Froneri as its anchor customer.

But it’s not just food: there is growing demand from pharmaceutical goods needing coldstorage. Last year PCI Pharma Services has expanded its coldstorage at its Hay-on-Wye site and doubled its onsite -40°C freezer -80°C freezer capacity.

The healthcare logistics industry is witnessing significant growth due to a rise in need for temperature-controlled logistics of pharmaceutical products and medical devices; thereby, boosting the market growth. The UK government is also taking initiatives to boost the adoption of temperature-controlled warehousing and transport for pharmaceuticals products.

Mike Thompson, chief executive of the Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry, has asked the UK government to build more cold-chain storage as the pharmaceutical products such as biologics, vaccines, insulin, and others require coldstorage. Growth in the pharmaceutical sector is one of the biggest drivers for growth in the UK cold chain logistics market.

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