Growth of cold chain in India

India for example has around 31 million tonnes of cold store capacity and perhaps 9,000 refrigerated trucks, whereas in France the balance is 5 million tonnes and 140,000 (India also has 27,000 milk tankers, but these are insulated and not refrigerated). The chief executive of India's National Centre for Cold-chain Development, Pawanexh Kohli, concludes that this causes a 'major breach of the cold chain' and that there is 'in effect no integration'.47 Mr Kohli has also calculated that to make proper use of just 10% of India's existing cold storage capacity, the country needs to build 30,000 new pack-houses with pre-cooling facilities, and 60,000 refrigerated trucks.48 By extension, making proper use of all of India's cold storage capacity would require 600,000 refrigerated trucks.

Taking a broader international perspective, if India had the same ratio of refrigerated vehicles to the value of its grocery market ($375 billion in 2012) as Britain ($243 billion), it would have 139,000 refrigerated vehicles, 18 times more than at present.49 And if it had the same ratio of refrigerated trucks to population as Britain, its fleet would number more than 1.5 million.50

The picture in China is similarly skewed. Demand for cold chain services has been building for longer in China than in India – fridge ownership among urban households, for example, rose from 7% in 1995 to 95% in 2007 – and yet the country still has much more cold storage than refrigerated vehicle capacity.

A report from consultants AT Kearney in 2007 concluded that Chinese cold store capacity would need to grow twenty fold to 5 billion cubic feet by 2017, and that its fleet of refrigerated trucks would need to grow more than ten-fold to 365,000. In 2015, the warehouse capacity is on track, but the refrigerated truck fleet is estimated to be just 66,000, less than a fifth of the projected number. In both China and India, and other developing countries, as the need for integrated cold chains becomes ever more pressing, investment in refrigerated vehicles will have to increase dramatically to catch up.

47 Cold-chain essentials, harmonising the concept, focus horticulture, presentation by Pawanexh Kohli, NCCD, 9 December 2014

48 Food security breach… and bridging it, July 2014

49 Indian retail market set to touch $865 billion by 2023, the Hindu Business Line, 27 January 2014,; UK Grocery Retailing, IGD, 3 July 2014,

50 India's population (1.2 billion) is 18.7 times larger than Britain's (64.1 million). Britain's refrigerated fleet is 84,000 strong. 84,000 x 18.7 = 1.57 million.