Cold storage Refrigerated warehouse capacity increasing

Aug. 1, 2008
Public Refrigerated warehouse (PRW) storage capacity is increasing around the world, while in the US, PRWs continue to dominate the overall cold storage

Public Refrigerated warehouse (PRW) storage capacity is increasing around the world, while in the US, PRWs continue to dominate the overall cold storage industry. That is the conclusion of separate reports from the International Association of Refrigerated Ware-houses (IARW) and the US Department of Agriculture.

IARW's 2008 Global Cold Storage Capacity Report, which includes data collected from more than 40 countries, suggests a worldwide trend toward increasing cold storage capacity, driven by a greater reliance on the cold chain to meet growing trade and consumption rates of perishable products. The study pegged overall global capacity at approximately 8,749.97 million cubic feet.

Areas showing the greatest increases were France (57%), Germany (92%), Netherlands (75%), Spain (253%), and Brazil (66%). Total global capacity for these countries was determined to be 6,350.32 million cubic feet, a 15% increase from 2006.

The IARW has published the report, the only resource for worldwide cold storage capacity statistics, every two years since 1998.

“The cold storage industry is continuing to grow rapidly around the world,” said IARW president and CEO Bill Hudson. “Additionally, we are seeing more and more companies choose to rely on the expertise of the third-party logistics industry to meet their storage and distribution needs.”

Data challenges

Data in the Global Cold Storage Capacity Report pertains primarily to public refrigerated warehouse capacity. However, the definition of public and private warehouses differs from country to country.

In North America, PRWs are defined as a warehouse operated by a firm engaged in the business of storing goods for hire. Outside of North America, the definition of “public” can mean something entirely different. For example, in China “public” indicates government ownership.

This dichotomy of definitions can have a significant impact on the data and, ultimately, must be taken into account when comparing national markets, Hudson said. This also makes collecting the data more challenging.

It is also important to note that today's dynamic distribution logistics systems rely on information technology, cross-docking, and other methods to achieve higher velocity and reduced storage times, he added. As a result, growth in the use of PRW space is even greater than it appears based on a straightforward review of capacities.

To order the complete report, contact the IARW by phone, 703-373-4300, or by e-mail, [email protected]. For more information about PRW capacity, access

US capacity

The USDA's National Agricultural Statistics Service recently released its biennial summary of cold storage capacity in the US. It shows that the PRW segment continues to dominate the overall cold storage industry, with general PRW capacity totaling 2.50 billion gross cubic feet last year, accounting for 75% of the general cold storage.

Other report findings:

  • States that experienced the most significant gains in capacity: Illinois (35%), Arkansas (32%), and Delaware (26%).

  • Public general storage capacity increased 3% since 2005, and is 22% above the capacity of 10 years ago.

  • Private and semiprivate general warehouse capacity totaled 822 million gross cubic feet, or 25% of the general gross refrigerated space.

  • Today, PRWs operate nearly 1.68 billion cubic feet more than their private counterparts.

The complete USDA report can be accessed at

Related topic:
Find public refrigerated warehouses that offer local distribution—access Refrigerated Transporter's Public Refrigerated Warehouse & Distribution Directory.

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