National Cold Supply Chain

The term “cold chain” refers to a temperature-controlled supply chain for cold storage and delivery, whereby fresh agricultural food is kept and its shelf life is increased. In addition to agricultural products, the cold chain is required for horticulture, floriculture, dairy, confectionery, pharmaceuticals, industrial chemicals, poultry processing, and meat processing. The Cold Supply Chain Scheme has been in place since 2008 in India.


Integrated Cold Chain and Value Addition Infrastructure Scheme

  • The “Integrated Cold Chain and Value Addition Infrastructure” Scheme’s goal is to create seamless integrated cold chain and preservation infrastructure from the farm gate to the customer. It includes building infrastructure along the entire supply chain, including pre-cooling, weighing, sorting, grading, waxing facilities at the farm level, multi-product/multi-temperature cold storage, CA storage, packing facility, IQF, blast freezing in the distribution hub, and reefer vans, mobile cooling units to facilitate distribution of non-horticulture, horticulture, fish/marine (except shrimp), dairy, meat, and poultry.
  • The concept provides for project planning flexibility, with a focus on developing farm-level cold chain infrastructure.

Current Status

  • India is the world’s second-largest producer of fruits and vegetables, Third-largest producer of milk, And also produces a sizable amount of fish, meat, and poultry goods. But there is significant food and agricultural product loss as a result of the embryonic cold chain supply.
  • According to the Food & Agriculture Organisation approximately, 1/3 of all food produced annually is lost, or around 1.3 billion tonnes. These losses might cost as much as USD 8 to $15 billion annually, according to estimates.
  • In addition to perishable foods, the pharmaceutical business is a significant industry that relies on a reliable cold supply chain network.
  • A strong and well-managed cold supply chain network is necessary for the storage and transportation of vaccines, life-saving medications, and other pharmaceutical raw materials.
  • Almost two thirds of the nation’s total cold storage capacity are currently located in West Bengal, UP, and Bihar. However, around 80% of the capacity in use is held by semi-organized players. The industry’s dispersed distribution strategy might change with the establishment of a national cold chain network.
  • The Indian government is one of the main proponents of the development of the cold chain industry and encourages private participation via a number of grant and subsidy programmes. A programme titled “Scheme on Cold Chain, Value Addition & Preservation Infrastructure” was launched by the Ministry of Food Processing Industries (MoFPI) specifically for cold chains.
  • One of the most promising sectors in the cold chain storage and logistics business is the cold chain industry in India, which is still in the growth stage. The Indian cold chain logistics market was worth $16 million in 2021, and by 2027, it’s anticipated to be worth $36 million.


  • Transportation: Inadequate roadways/Highways, heavy traffic and also the lack development of transport vehicles such as freezer trucks, freezer containers, reefer vans/trucks, carriers, merchandising carts, etc is a major challenge to Cold Chain Industry. Due to the significant investment required to acquire the necessary fleet and equipment, this might also lead to greater transportation costs.
  • Electricity: Lack of reliable power supply is a significant obstacle for the Indian cold chain business, and as a result, cold chain enterprises must make separate investments in power backup. And, due to the high operating expenses of the backup generators, pharmaceutical distributors and merchants, etc. relying on cold chain are forced to stop providing electricity to cold chains.
  • Infrastructure: Static infrastructure which includes infrastructure at farm-gate like modern-pack houses with pre-coolers, bulk cold warehouses, cold distribution hubs, Ripening chambers, reefer transport, and pack houses—all components of the cold chain infrastructure—are not easily accessible and still needs improvement.
  • Technology: The best tools or most recent technologies are not present in the temperature monitoring and maintenance systems. For instance, no business has the ability to deliver vaccinations at temperatures below -25 degrees Celsius. India lags far behind the West in this area, as they have integrated technology like artificial intelligence, machine learning, and the internet of things into their operations. Lack of technology causes faulty and underperforming cold chains, which costs operators and food producers money.
  • Education & Training: inadequate staff training and orientation about the cold chain management system. The administration of cold chain logistics demands highly qualified individuals who are familiar with all the procedures and guidelines and have practical expertise using a variety of cold storage and transportation equipment. Programmes for education and training are necessary to enhance skills.


Subsidies and Government Initiatives: Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, the Indian government has provided subsidies and waivers to support several supply chain and logistics projects. The Indian logistics and warehousing industry would be able to improve its connectivity and transparency as a result of the adoption of the National Logistics Policy (NLP).
Infrastructure Improvement: Improving roads, highways, and infrastructure at farm-gate like modern-pack houses with pre-coolers, bulk cold warehouses, cold distribution hubs, Ripening chambers, reefer transport, and pack houses.
Adoption of Technology: To keep track of the conditions of cold supply chain shipments, use advanced tracking and monitoring systems like loT sensors and real-time temperature monitoring equipment. This will make it possible for perishable commodities to be preserved well. Also Artificial intelligence, machine learning, etc. should also be used into their operations for no faulty and underperforming cold chains and by enabling real-time monitoring, predictive maintenance and efficient inventory management.
Education & Training: Developing specialized training and educational programmes to improve the knowledge and skills of staff members involved in managing the cold chain, including drivers, handlers, and warehouse staff members, will result in a skilled workforce and handling would be better.
Electricity: Since the cold chain supply is so largely reliant on energy and suffers in its absence, the Indian government should seek to provide power backups or uninterrupted electricity supply to these cold chain units.


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