How a Pandemic is Increasing the Need for Cold Chain Storage

Even before COVID-19, the frozen food market was growing. Since the pandemic, that market is expected to reach $387 billion by 2025 according to Brandessence Market Research. While demand is increasing on a global level, it’s important to know that demand was peaking at $52 billion in 2015. While there has been an increase across all frozen food categories, frozen ready meals are the driver in rapidly replacing a quick meal at the local dinner or pub.

A Back to Basics Shift in Consumer Behavior

Frozen ready meals are easy to prepare and expected to be the main market driver over the next eight years according to MarketWatch.com. The pandemic has put restraints on social life and dinners out with friends are now quick ready-made meals that are fast and convenient at home. As this trend continues to shift, manufacturers and grocers alike have to adjust.

This back to basics transition in buying goes back to stockpiling freezer goods. In pre-pandemic shopping, consumers would simply go to a brick and mortar grocery store and buy groceries and go home. Of course, consumers would purchase some staples online too—items like paper goods and pet food.  However, that too has changed.

Due to COVID-19, purchasing all types of groceries online is now “the new normal.” With more consumers going online to buy food, food manufacturers are now turning once informational “where to buy” corporate branding and couponing websites into direct to consumer (DTC) e-commerce storefronts. Now, consumers now have even more options to shop.

While regular staples such as canned and pet foods are easy to pick, pack, and ship, frozen or chilled food comes with unique challenges. Even popular meal kits contain frozen or chilled portions. Thus, fulfillment and storage solutions are having to meet these new demands.

Frozen and Cold Storage and Fulfillment Solutions that Support Growth

While deep freeze and cold storage applications are widely available today, the increase for greater frozen and chilled foods are driving the need for additional cold storage facilities around the globe. These facilities include both fulfillment / distribution centers and cold storage holding areas in food production facilities.

While cold storage holding areas in food production processes remain somewhat unchanged, there is a trend to do simplified case and piece pick for e-commerce orders. This drive is making ASRS (automated storage and retrieval) systems for cold or frozen storage in demand—both from a manufacturer food production and processing standpoint and from a 3PL (third party logistics) provider.

Consumer behavior has manufacturers and grocers rethinking strategy when it comes to fulfillment needs. Additional square footage is needed for cold or freezer storage. According to Cold Storage Logistics, up to 100 million square feet is needed within the next five years. Even with imports, frozen food and perishables move in and out of cold storage warehouses, and the current cold storage real estate isn’t enough for the growing demand.

What’s Available for Cold or Freezer Storage Solutions?

As the need for additional storage space continues, both semi- and highly automated storage systems for cold or freezer storage equipment is expected to grow.

SSI SCHAEFER provides a wide array of both pallet and case pick cold and freezer storage solutions. High-density channel storage is also available for fulfilment and distribution centers with lower SKU counts. With new processing facilities and grocers now having to fulfill e-commerce orders, experts in this field are engineering extremely high-density storage solutions in both compact and larger facilities.

If you are looking for help in determining the best solution for your application with either high or low SKU counts, contact a cold chain storage expert from SSI SCHAEFER. Our experts will work with you from an initial conception and design phase all the way to install and start-up—even under frigid conditions.