Supply Chain & Logistics: How to Start a Cold Chain Business

Supply Chain & Logistics: How to Start a Cold Chain Business

As the seasons change, cold chain logistics provides a temperature-controlled environment to ensure the entire process of fresh produce from storage to distribution.

Fresh produce from your local market, the skincare products you use every day, and the important medicines you have in your cabinet all have one thing in common: they are all transported from one location to another through cold chain logistics.

You may be asking yourself, "What is cold chain logistics?" Many of the products you buy become part of cold chain logistics in some way. Without this innovation, fresh produce won't survive the journey to a wholesaler or even your doorstep.

Supply Chain Management Explained 

For smaller businesses or local deliveries, cold chain transport management is carried out in-house and is simpler to operate, but for large, international companies, global delivery of temperature-sensitive products becomes complex. This creates opportunities to work with third-party logistics companies that have expertise in cold chain transportation.

That's where supply chain management comes in. A cold chain is a temperature-controlled network of cold chains. It is a system that takes preservation seriously and handles products at the recommended low temperature levels. This allows customers to get the best quality products regardless of the season or weather.

Practical application of cold chain warehousing

Cold chain logistics, also known as cold chain logistics, is a technology and process that enables the accurate and safe transportation of temperature-sensitive goods and products along the supply chain.

Some of the standard products that require cold chain transportation are:

  • meat
  • seafood
  • produce
  • dairy product
  • Medical supplies
  • pharmaceuticals
  • Flower industry

Running an effective cold chain business means using certain technologies and sciences to assess and adapt to the links between temperature, perishability, and transportation.

Practical application of cold chain warehousing

The future of the cold chain industry

The industry has grown into a multi-million dollar market worth $209.2 million in 2021. The global cold chain logistics market is expected to reach a staggering height of $464 million by 2028 as the demand for product sustainability increases, thanks to the expansion of the pharmaceutical and food industries in 2022 due to the global pandemic we are facing.

When to use cold chain logistics

The processes involved in the cold chain are not only used when transporting or storing goods. It affects every part of the cold supply chain, from procurement, storage, delivery all the way to the end user.

Even after the goods have been safely delivered, many products are further kept at a constant temperature and stored in the refrigerator or in a cool area to preserve the item until it is consumed, used, or expired.

A rise or fall in temperature at any stage of the supply chain is bad news for the goods and the customers who consume/use them, especially for expired-sensitive products. Shippers and their customers are at great risk of losing money when cold products go bad.

A key element of supply chain management

To keep everything running smoothly, cold chain businesses need hands-on logistics managers who oversee every part of the cold chain process and gain important insights.

In order to maintain the integrity of the goods and avoid product loss/damage, the key elements of the cold chain must be continuously monitored.

1. Packaging

Packaging is mainly used to protect the product during transportation. The packaging of cold chain products should prevent them from being damaged while allowing the storage container to keep the goods at the desired temperature.

2. Temperature monitoring

Products that require constant cold conditions also need to be temperature tracked regularly. Temperature monitoring is more than just keeping the temperature constant. It can track humidity levels and show how long and for how long the package was kept at different temperature levels.

3. Transportation

The product is kept at the proper temperature from the moment it leaves the manufacturer until it reaches its destination using various types of refrigerated transport units.

4. Storage 

In order to maintain the proper temperature of food or pharmaceuticals in the supply chain, the refrigerator room is equipped with thermal insulation to protect against outside temperatures.

A key element of supply chain management

How do you provide a temperature-controlled environment?

Due to the different temperature requirements of different food cold chain products, cold chain logistics can provide you with temperature control facilities such as warehouses and transportation to meet different temperature needs.

These are the recommended standard power settings:

Deep-frozen meat and seafood -30°C AND -18°C (-22°F AND -0.4°F)
Frozen meat and seafood -18°C AND 0°C (-0.4°F AND 32°F)
medicines, etc 2°C AND 8°C (36°F AND 46°F)
Refrigerate fruits, vegetables and dairy products 7°C AND 14°C (44.6°F AND 57.2°F)
Room temperature fresh produce, etc 14°C AND 24°C (57.2°F AND 75.2°F)

Although these are the recommended safe temperatures for certain food items, there is still some leeway, as some goods can withstand slight temperature changes. If the changes are drastic and frequent, then the item will deteriorate.

Cold chain technology in the supply chain

Therefore, to ensure that goods are not compromised and remain in pristine condition, no matter what stage of the supply chain they are in, the pharmaceutical, medical, and food industries rely heavily on cold chain logistics.

There are various ways to keep your cargo at the proper temperature. In order to determine the right refrigeration method, the following factors need to be considered:

  • Transit time
  • The dimensions of the packaged shipment
  • Weather/outside temperature

Once you have chosen the right method, the following modern cold chain solutions can be applied.

1. Sea Containers

To ensure that goods do not experience temperature fluctuations, businesses must use containers to move goods quickly through the supply chain to ensure that products do not experience adverse temperatures.

A MARINE CONTAINER (REFRIGERATED CONTAINER OR VEHICLE) IS A REFRIGERATED UNIT WITH A TEMPERATURE-CONTROLLED ON-BOARD COOLING SYSTEM. THESE ARE INSULATED VANS, SEMI-TRUCKS, OR STANDARD ISO CONTAINERS THAT CAN ALSO BE MODIFIED TO KEEP THE PRODUCT WARM IF NEEDED.

2. Cooling technology

These methods are used to keep products that are already cold at the same temperature.

Gel packs: often used for medical treatment and drug delivery.

Dry ice: It can freeze items for long periods of time, especially for food, medicine, and dangerous goods. When exposed to air, it does not melt, but sublimates.

Liquid nitrogen: mainly used for the transportation of biological cargo (organs, tissues, etc.). Extremely cold weather can make things freeze for longer.

Eutectic plates: Also known as cold plates, they are used in a similar way to gel packs, but the cold plates can be reused.

Comforters: Insulated comforters can be wrapped or placed on goods and are used to keep the temperature constant, so frozen items can stay frozen for longer.

Common cold chain logistics challenges

Despite all the tips, tricks, and equipment mentioned above, running a cold chain business effectively is not easy. Maintaining a constant temperature throughout the cold chain storage process is not always as easy as it sounds.

Poor airflow
While good airflow can maintain a uniform temperature in refrigerators, trucks, and trailers, and evenly distribute air within an area, poor airflow can cause issues such as short cycles, increased humidity, and the entire storage space can have different temperatures and more.


Hot spots occur when the cargo is not completely cooled at a uniform temperature, and some parts of the cargo are in varying degrees.

hot spot

The top freezes
Refers to a situation in which your goods are placed too close to chilled air in a storage or transport unit. It may cause frost damage to your product.

Top frozen

Why is cold chain logistics important?

This allows customers to experience and purchase different items from all over the world. The more customers demand for products that experience otherworldliness, the greater the growth of cold chain logistics companies.

While some products can withstand environmental changes, others cannot. During transportation, quality, flavor, consistency, and safety are all compromised.

The end customer may not notice that the premium Wagyu they purchased has been sitting in the wrong temperature range for two hours, but they may be at risk of food poisoning or related illness if the product is not treated accordingly in the cold chain.

For goods from around the globe, cold chain management minimizes the risk of temperatures exceeding safe levels during storage or transportation and provides manufacturers and suppliers with better product control.

Started different cold chain work in the industry

Want to know how to start a cold chain logistics business?or want to join a cold chain logistics startup?If this topic has piqued your interest and you are looking for different careers in the industry, then there are some career paths in cold chain logistics that you can get involved in:

  • Lease cold storage to companies that sell perishable products
  • Cold chain consulting
  • Provide refrigerated/refrigerated transportation services by road, rail, air and waterway
  • Manufacture of refrigerated trucks and vans
  • Cold storage construction
  • Equipment is manufactured or supplied to cold storage owners
  • Temperature-controlled logistics service technology provider

Started different cold chain work in the industry

Intelligent cold chain management

Leave your on-the-ground cold chain operations to Cartrack.

Get 24/7 protection with temperature sensors that remotely monitor temperature, automatic alerts for temperature changes via email/SMS, and our AI camera system will help to see your cargo and driver in real-time on the road.

For more control over your fleet and the goods you transport, use Cartrack.

Let's get in touch today.

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