The global cold chain market size was valued at USD 210.49 billion in 2020 and is expected to grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 14.8% from 2021 to 2028. The growing penetration of connected devices and automation of refrigerated warehouses across the globe is anticipated to spur the industry growth over the forecast period. An increasing number of organized retail stores in emerging economies are leading to increased demand for cold chain solutions. Moreover, trade liberalization, government efforts to reduce food waste, and expansion of retail chains by multinational companies are expected to boost industry growth over the forecast period. The World Trade Organization (WTO) and bilateral free trade agreements, such as the European Union Free Trade Agreement (FTA) and the North America Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), have created opportunities for exporters in the U.S. and Europe to increase trade of perishable foods in a manner that is free of import duties.
In developing economies, the refrigerated storage market is driven by a shift from carbohydrate-rich diets to protein-rich foods, owing to rising consumer awareness. Countries, such as China, are expected to portray a significant growth rate over the coming years due to a consumer-led transition in the economy. With growing technological advancements in warehouse management and refrigerated transportation, the market is likely to expand in developing economies.
Furthermore, growing government subsidies have enabled service providers to tap these emerging markets with innovative solutions to overcome complex transportation. Cold chain services are designed to provide ideal transportation and storage conditions for temperature-sensitive products. Increasing demand for perishable products and fast delivery requirements associated with the e-commerce-based food and beverages delivery market has created a significant boost in cold chain operations.
This is a stark shift from the earlier trend of consumers buying processed foods that had a longer shelf life. The rising trend of purchasing perishable products online has led to new opportunities and challenges. These include the need for innovative solutions to provide last-mile delivery, automated warehouses to manage inventories and reduce per-item costs, and low-cost and advanced temperature monitoring devices to maintain the safety of fresh food products.
In terms of revenue, the storage segment accounted for the largest revenue share of more than 58% in 2020 and will retain the dominance over the forecast period owing to increasing preference for packaged foods across the globe. Changing dietary patterns and lifestyles of consumers is driving the demand for frozen foods. This is expected to boost the demand for storage solutions.
Cold chain systems are crucial for supplying food, beverages, and healthcare products. Demand for high-cube refrigerated trailers, connected refrigerated trucks, insulated containers, and vehicles favoring cross-product transportation is expected to drive the transportation segment over the forecast period.
The use of monitoring components in the cold chain is particularly increasing. This growth can be attributed to the technological advancements and growing need to ensure the integrity, efficiency, and safety of shipments. Advances are equally noticeable in backend IT infrastructure and frontend devices deployed for collecting and reporting real-time shipment information.
Efficient management of cold storage greatly depends on software and hardware components used for monitoring purposes. Hardware components include data loggers, remote temperature sensors, RFID devices, networking devices, and telematics devices. The stringent regulatory environment in the pharmaceutical industry surrounding the maintenance of product quality has positively influenced the adoption of cold chain temperature monitoring solutions.
The product packaging segment held the largest revenue share of over 73% in 2020. The product segment includes a detailed analysis of crates, insulated containers and boxes, cold packs, labels, and temperature-controlled pallet shippers. The materials segment includes an in-depth analysis of insulating materials and refrigerants. The insulating materials and refrigerants are considered complete systems for temperature-sensitive products. The insulating materials segment is further classified into Expanded Polystyrene (EPS), Vacuum Insulated Panel (VIP), Polyurethane (PUR), cryogenic tanks, and others.
Temperature-controlled Packaging (TCP) is a majorly used element in the refrigerated storage market. TCP is developed in accordance with various standards to maintain the products at specific temperatures for a particular period. Active TCP systems include pallet shippers and refrigerated boxes that are operated through power sources, such as a lithium battery. On the other hand, passive systems are cost-effective and practical as they rely on insulated packaging along with refrigerants. At present, Styrofoam and water-based Phase Change Material (PCMs) are preferred by most pharmaceutical companies.
Demand for PUR is declining, as the material happens to be heavier than Styrofoam and is also not recyclable. Temperature-sensitive materials used for shipments of non-bulk packaging include PUR foam, EPS foam, cryogenic tanks, insulated pallet shippers, and VIPs. Three types of commonly used refrigerants are dry ice, gel packs, and PCM. Key factors to be considered while evaluating temperature-sensitive packaging solutions include system cost, thermal performance, pack-out simplicity, and physical performance. The variable that determines system cost comprises payload maximization, re-usable systems, packaging costs, and the trade-off between custom packaging solutions and off-the-shelf solutions.
The storage equipment segment accounted for the largest revenue share of over 75% of the global market in 2020. Storage equipment is crucial in the refrigerated storage industry as they ensure the quality of products and increase their shelf life. The equipment used includes refrigerators, deep freezers, vaccine carriers, and others. Storage equipment is further divided into on-grid and off-grid.
The demand for off-grid storage equipment is attributed to the increasing need to prevent food losses post-harvesting and processing in developing countries. According to the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations (UN), more than 40% of food losses occur during post-harvesting and processing, especially in developing countries. This creates the need to establish sustainable and energy-efficient cold chains that can increase food supply in these countries by nearly 15% or about 250 million tons.
Increasing efforts taken by the governments in developing countries to promote off-grid cold chains are expected to stimulate the demand for off-grid solar energy-based storage equipment. For instance, in March 2018, the Global Lighting and Energy Access Partnership’s (LEAP) competition to develop energy-efficient cold storage facility encouraged the adoption of off-grid solar energy-based storage equipment. This facility is aimed at meeting storage requirements for dairy products and fresh fruits and vegetables in Sub-Saharan African countries.
The fish, meat, and seafood segment led the global market accounting for the highest revenue share of 24% in 2020, and will retain the leading position growing at a steady CAGR from 2021 to 2028. Technological developments in the processing, packaging, and storage of seafood are anticipated to stimulate the growth of this segment. Moreover, a rise in fish production is expected to boost segment growth. However, processed food is projected to be the fastest-growing application segment over the forecast years owing to continued innovations in packaging materials. Advancements in packaging materials increase the shelf life of foods. This has increased the trading of processed foods over the past few years.
High product demand in the pharmaceuticals segment can be attributed to its importance in maintaining the efficacy and safety of pharmaceuticals. The cold chain in the pharmaceutical industry is driven by stringent regulatory norms, such as Goods Distribution Practices (GDP) in the European Union (EU). These regulations are a shift witnessed in governments across the world toward standardizing regulations globally for better transportation systems for healthcare-related products.
Improvements in food packaging materials have become essential owing to the growing trade over the past few years. As per the FAO of the United Nations, 20 to 40% of the total production of fruits and vegetables is wasted due to accidents that occurred during storage, processing, and transportation. Thus, the material used for packaging food items plays a major role in enhancing their storage life.
Changing food habits and increasing levels of disposable income are triggering the product demand from the bakery and confectionary segment. Shippers are collaborating with third-party logistics to cater to the rising demand and to ensure that products are delivered in optimal conditions on a proper schedule.
North America held the largest revenue share of more than 35% in 2020 and will retain the dominant position throughout the forecast period as the region has significant growth opportunities for the companies planning to invest for a long haul. Increasing penetration of connected devices and a large consumer base are also expected to fuel market growth over the forecast period. However, Asia Pacific is anticipated to be the fastest-growing regional market over the projected period owing to increasing government investments for logistics infrastructure development and penetration of Warehouse Management Systems (WMS).
China is the major contributor to the APAC regional market. The market growth in China is attributed to factors, such as technological advancements in packaging, processing, and storage of seafood products. Rising demand and growing cold chain infrastructure development have made China a top market for cold chains. Currently, China is undergoing a rapid transition from a construction- & manufacturing-led economy to a consumer-led economy. Rising innovations in the pharmaceutical sector in China are also expected to boost the demand for cold chain solutions. Another major factor driving the market includes the rapid expansion of biopharma in the region.
Major service providers in the market are constantly upgrading their technologies to stay ahead of the competition and to ensure efficiency, integrity, and safety. Vendors have adopted Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points (HACCP) and RFID technologies to improve efficiency with a decreased size of shipments. In addition, they are increasing their multi-compartment refrigerated vehicle fleets to provide additional services to customers. Some of the key companies in the global cold chain market are:
Agro Merchant Group (U.S.)
Nordic Logistics and Warehousing, LLC (U.S.)
Preferred Freezer Services, LLC (U.S.)
Cold Chain Technologies, Inc. (U.S.)
Cryopack Industries, Inc. (U.S.)
Cold Box Express, Inc. (U.S.)
Market size value in 2021
USD 238.4 billion
Revenue forecast in 2028
USD 628.3 billion
CAGR of 14.8% from 2021 to 2028
Base year for estimation
2017 - 2019
2021 - 2028
Revenue in USD billion and CAGR from 2021 to 2028
Revenue forecast, company ranking, competitive landscape, growth factors, and trends
Type, packaging, equipment, application, region
North America; Asia Pacific; Europe; South America; Middle East; Africa
U.S.; Canada; Mexico; Germany; U.K.; France; Spain; Italy; China; India; Singapore; Japan; South Korea; Brazil; Saudi Arabia; UAE; Israel; South Africa; Nigeria; Egypt; Kenya
Key companies profiled
Agro Merchant Group; Nordic Logistics and Warehousing, LLC; Preferred Freezer Services, LLC; Cold Chain Technologies, Inc.; Cryopack Industries, Inc.; Creopack; Cold Box Express, Inc.
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This report forecasts revenue growth at the global, regional, and country levels and provides an analysis of the latest industry trends in each of the sub-segments from 2017 to 2028. For the purpose of this study, Grand View Research has segmented the global cold chain market report on the basis of type, packaging, equipment, application, and region:
Type Outlook (Revenue, USD Million, 2017 - 2028)
Packaging Outlook (Revenue, USD Million, 2017 - 2028)
Insulated Containers & Boxes
Large (32 to 66 liters)
Medium (21 to 29 liters)
Small (10 to 17 liters)
X-small (3 to 8 liters)
Petite (0.9 to 2.7 liters)
Cold Chain Bags/Vaccine Bags
Temperature-controlled Pallet Shippers
Others (Insulating Pouches, Hard Cased Thermal Boxes, and Active Thermal Systems)
Equipment Outlook (Revenue, USD Million, 2017 - 2028)
Solar-powered Cold Boxes
Others (Solar Refrigerators and Products related to Solar Panels)
Application Outlook (Revenue, USD Million, 2017 - 2028)
Fruits & Vegetables
Fruit Pulp & Concentrates
Fish, Meat, and Seafood
Bakery & Confectionary
Others (Ready-to-Cook, Poultry)
b. The global cold chain market size was estimated at USD 210.49 billion in 2020 and is expected to reach USD 238.4 billion in 2021.
b. The global cold chain market is expected to grow at a compound annual growth rate of 14.8%% from 2021 to 2028 to reach USD 628.3 billion by 2028.
b. North America dominated the cold chain market with a share of 35.7% in 2019. This is attributable to the increasing penetration of connected devices and a large consumer base in the region.
b. Some key players operating in the cold chain market include Americold Logistics LLC (U.S.); Al Rai Logistica K.S.C (Kuwait); Burris Logistics, Inc. (U.S.); Lineage Logistics (U.S.); Berlinger & Co. AG (Switzerland); and Henningsen Cold Chain Company (U.S.).
b. Key factors that are driving the cold chain market growth include the growing penetration of connected devices and automation of refrigerated warehouses across the globe.
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The automotive & transportation industry is amongst the most exposed verticals to the ongoing COVID-19 outbreak and is currently amidst unprecedented uncertainty. COVID-19 is expected to have a significant impact on the supply chain and product demand in the automotive sector. The industry's concern has moved on from being centered on supply chain disruption from China to the overall slump in demand for automotive products. The demand for commercial vehicles is expected to plummet with the shutdown of all non-essential services. Furthermore, changes in consumer buying behavior owing to uncertainty surrounding the pandemic may have serious implications on the near future growth of the industry. Meanwhile, liquidity shortfall and cash crunch have already impacted the sales of fleet operators, which is further expected to widen over the next few months. We are continuously monitoring the COVID-19 pandemic, and assessing its impact on the growth of the automotive & transportation industry. The report will account for Covid19 as a key market contributor.