What is in store for food storage?
For an industry so focused on keeping things cool the cold storage sector is impressively hot right now, with research predicting that it will grow by 9.8% every year until 2020. Keeping up with this requires business to be able to act quickly and respond to demands efficiently.
The majority of the sector is still based round keeping food and drink cool, whether this is in mobile cold stores, chillers or blast freezers. However, there are several other industries that rely on keeping products cool, such as pharmaceuticals manufacturing.
Considering that cold storage plays a role in keeping us supplied with everything from drugs to donuts, it’s understandable that there isn’t just one single factor driving this impressive growth spurt.
On a very basic level, there’s the simple fact that the population is both increasing in number and living longer, and with that comes a rising demand for food and pharmaceuticals. However, research has also pointed to several more specific causes.
For example, as online grocery shopping becomes a part of mainstream spending habits it requires more storage facilities, while changing consumer tastes are demanding more frozen confectionary, as well as exotic fish and vegetables – all of which need to be stored at various temperatures if they’re to arrive in their desired form.
All of these add up to an ever-growing demand for effective, reliable cold storage. However, they can also contribute to the challenges felt by the sector.
Simply keeping up with the rapidly increased demand can often be a challenging prospect on its own.
Industrial-scale chilling equipment can represent a major capital investment, which many companies are reluctant to make in the current economic and political climate. This can put them in the uncomfortable position of being unable to pursue new, lucrative markets and customers without taking on unwanted risk.
Many food and beverage companies are also seasonal by nature, and when a site may only be operating at peak production for a few months at a time, it can be hard to justify paying out for extra equipment.
Even if food distributors and warehouses are willing to make the initial investment, chillers have high energy demands and require equally high reliability from their power supply. Depending on what’s being stored, even a few hours of downtime could cause millions of pounds worth of product to spoil and become unsellable.
This has recently been compounded by unusual weather conditions, such as the heatwave that recently baked the UK. These can put heavy strain on the infrastructure surrounding the chillers for weeks or even months at a time.
Aggreko has been working with the cooling sector for many years now, whether than means installing fresh chillers to replace faulty equipment or leasing out cooling towers to boost reliability during the hot summer months.
As well as covering these short- to medium-term issues, we’ve also been able to work with the industry on supplying equipment for several years at a time. This can be invaluable to companies that are not able to commit to the up-front investment in a new cooling system.
At the same time, this kind of arrangement can also offer several advantages over simply purchasing equipment, even for customers that would be able to find the capital. The biggest of these is that it offers incredible flexibility, with the size and scale of the equipment being able to adapt to changing market conditions. If all the equipment was bought outright then installing a new chiller for a product that may not be viable for more than a few years would be incredibly risky, but if it’s leased from Aggreko it becomes much more affordable.
There are also environmental benefits to taking this route, as it allows companies to endure that the size of equipment they’re running is more closely aligned with what they actually need. This cuts down on both the energy bills and the carbon emissions associated with a site.
Aggreko knows the needs of the food and beverage industry inside out. Our large fleet of power and temperature control hire equipment means we can step up when you need us most – keeping conditions at their best, so you can meet your supply chain demands.
Find out more about how Aggreko can help you overcome your cooling challenges in the food and beverage industry.