The global cold chain market size was valued at USD 147.55 billion in 2017 and is expected to expand at a CAGR of 15.0% from 2018 to 2025. Growing penetration of connected devices and automation of refrigerated warehouses across the globe are anticipated to spur industry growth over the forecast period. 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 European Union Free Trade agreement (FTA) and the North America Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) have created opportunities for exporters in 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 shift from carbohydrate-rich diet 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 warehouses 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 have 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.
Rising trend of purchasing perishable products online has led to new opportunities and challenges. These include 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 safety of fresh food products.
Based on type, the market has been categorized into storage, transportation, and monitoring components. Growth of the storage segment is attributed to increasing preference for packaged food across the globe. Changing dietary patterns and lifestyles of consumers is driving frozen food demand. This is expected to boost 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.
Use of monitoring components in cold chain is particularly increasing. This growth can be attributed to 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. Stringent regulatory environment in pharmaceutical industry surrounding the maintenance of product quality has positively influenced the adoption of cold chain temperature monitoring solutions.
Based on packaging, the market has been bifurcated into product and material. 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 as a complete system for temperature-sensitive products. The insulating materials segment 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 time. 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 polyurethane is declining, as polyurethane happens to be heavier than Styrofoam and is also not recyclable.
Temperature-sensitive materials used for shipments of non-bulk packaging include Polyurethane (PUR) foam, Expanded Polystyrene (EPS) foam, cryogenic tanks, insulated pallet shippers, and Vacuum Insulated Panels (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 trade-off between custom packaging solutions and off-the-shelf solutions.
Based on application, the market has been categorized into fruits and vegetables, fruit pulp and concentrates, dairy products, fish, meat and seafood, processed foods, bakery and confectionary, and pharmaceuticals. The processed food segment is projected to exhibit the highest growth over the forecast period owing to continued innovations in packaging materials. Advancements in packaging materials increase shelf life of foods. This has increased the trading of processed foods over the past few years.
High demand in the pharmaceutical segment can be attributed to its importance in maintaining efficacy and safety of pharmaceuticals. Cold chain in 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 expansion of 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 occurred during storage, processing, and transportation among other such reasons. Thus, the material used for packaging food items plays a major role in enhancing storage life of food products.
Technological developments in processing, packaging, and storage of seafood are anticipated to stimulate growth of the fish, meat, and seafood segment. Moreover, rise in fish production is expected to boost the segment growth.
Changing food habits and increasing levels of disposable income are triggering the demand from bakery and confectionary products. Shippers are collaborating with third-party logistics to cater to this rising demand and to ensure that products are delivered in optimal conditions on a proper schedule.
Based on equipment, the cold chain market has been categorized into storage equipment and transportation equipment. Storage equipment is further divided into on-grid and off-grid. Storage equipment are crucial in the refrigerated storage industry as they ensure the quality of products and increases their shelf life. The equipment used includes refrigerators, deep freezers, vaccine carriers, and others.
The demand for off-grid storage equipment is attributed to increasing need to prevent food losses post-harvesting and processing in developing countries. According to the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of United Nations (UN), more than 40% 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 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 has 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.
Based on region, the industry has been divided into North America, Europe, Asia Pacific, Middle East, Africa, and South America. North America held the highest market share in 2017 and enables more significant growth opportunities for the companies planning to invest for long haul. Increasing penetration of connected devices and a large consumer base are expected to further fuel market demand over the forecast period.
The APAC region is anticipated to witness significant growth over the projected period owing to increasing government investments for logistics infrastructure development and penetration of warehouses management systems. China is the major contributor in the Asia Pacific region.
The Chinese market is expected to have considerable growth over the forecast period owing to a combination of factors, such as technological advancements in packaging, processing, and storage of seafood products. Rapidly rising demand and growing cold chain infrastructure development have made China a top market for cold chain. Currently, China is undergoing a rapid transition from a construction- and manufacturing-led economy to a consumer-led economy.
Rising innovations in pharmaceutical sector in China are expected to boost the demand for cold chain solutions. Also, one of the major drivers for cold chain is expansion of biopharma in the region. Transportation and storage of vaccines at a specific or desired temperature is also fueling the growth of the market in China.
Some of the key market participants are Americold Logistics LLC (U.S.); Al Rai Logistica K.S.C (Kuwait); Burris Logistics, Inc. (U.S.); Lineage Logistics (U.S.); Agro Merchants Group LLC (Netherlands); Swire Group (U.K.); Berlinger & Co. AG (Switzerland); and Henningsen Cold Chain Company (U.S.).
Cold chain service providers 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.
Base year for estimation
Actual estimates/Historical data
2014 to 2016
2018 to 2025
Revenue in USD million & CAGR from 2018 to 2025
Volume in thousand units
Refrigerated warehouse capacity in million cubic meters
North America, Europe, Asia Pacific, South America, Middle East, and Africa
U.S., Canada, Mexico, U.K., Germany, Italy, Spain, France, India, China, Singapore, Japan, South Korea, UAE, Saudi Arabia, Israel, South Africa, Nigeria, Egypt, Kenya, Brazil
Revenue and volume forecast, refrigerated warehouse capacity, company share, competitive landscape, growth factors, and trends
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This report forecasts revenue growth at global, regional, and country levels and provides an analysis of the latest industry trends and opportunities in each of the sub-segments from 2014 to 2025. 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, 2014 - 2025)
Packaging Outlook (Revenue, USD Million, 2014 - 2025)
Insulated Containers & Boxes
Cold Chain Bags/Vaccine Bags
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)
Temperature-controlled Pallet Shippers
Others (Insulating Pouches, Hard Cased Thermal Boxes, and Active Thermal Systems)
Equipment Outlook (Revenue, USD Million, 2014 - 2025)
Solar Powered Cold Boxes
Others (Solar Refrigerators and Products Related to Solar Panels)
Application Outlook (Revenue, USD Million, 2014 - 2025)
Fruits & Vegetables
Fruit Pulp & Concentrates
Fish, Meat, and Seafood
Bakery & Confectionary
Others (Ready-to-cook, Poultry)
Regional Outlook (Revenue, USD Million, 2014 - 2025)
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