The Board of Investments (BOI) has formally launched the Philippine Cold Chain Industry Roadmap, which targets a 10% to 15% increase in cold storage capacity annually, or 50,000 pallets more each year, to serve increasing needs of various industries.
The revenue of the country’s cold chain industry is expected to reach P20 billion by end of 2023, not including demand for storage of COVID-19 vaccines to be imported into the country in the next three to five years, according to Trade undersecretary and BOI managing head Ceferino Rodolfo in a speech during the launch.
He said the industry is a crucial link in the value chain necessary to strengthen the entire food supply chain of the Philippines, adding the industry’s importance has been further highlighted during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The industry currently has a capacity of 400,000 tons or 500,000 pallets. Warehouses are exclusively for cold storage or for cold and dry storage, or are integrated with the logistics and distribution system, among other services.
In terms of industry distribution, 65% of warehouses are for general warehousing, while 45% are for dedicated or exclusive warehousing.
Growth prospects and barriers
Demand for cold chain has been increasing yearly, with both imports and exports of key products recording growths from 2010 to 2019, said roadmap consultant and University of Asia and the Pacific senior agribusiness specialist Florence Mojica-Sevilla in a presentation during the roadmap launch.
The roadmap is a stakeholder-driven, inclusive and market-oriented plan to guide the industry in the coming years and help it adapt to the “new normal,” she noted.
She said growth prospects come from food delivery services, convenience stores’ take-away meals, local food production requiring cold chain logistics services, vaccines and other temperature-sensitive drugs, and e-commerce and online grocery shopping.
Also driving demand are people’s preference for just-in-time delivery; the trend for integrated end-to-end supply chain logistics; oversupply of some cash crops with the Department of Agriculture’s (DA) Plant Plant Plant Program; and the county’s continued dependence on food imports.
Barriers to expansion of the industry include limited awareness on food safety and misconception about frozen products; low demand for cold chain logistics services in some areas; lack of local government unit (LGU) support for cold chain investment; LGU regulations; product seasonality; limited infrastructure/road network support; traffic; and the African Swine Fever affecting meat production in the country since last year.
Other industry weaknesses include insufficient cold storage capacity especially outside Metro Manila; shortage of logistics and trucking services; lack of trained workers; difficulty complying with required documentation for accreditation; high energy/power costs; weak internet connectivity; high investment requirement; limited information on cold storage services; and lack of coordination within government agencies involved in shipments.
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