Cold chain logistics is used in ensuring extended shelf-life preservation of products such as fruits and vegetables, meat and seafood, beverages, dairy products, and frozen foods, as well as chemicals and pharmaceutical drugs. An example of cold chain logistics in the pharmaceutical sector is the movement of a vaccine from the manufacturer down to the mother and child. By 2021, the projected spending for biopharma cold chain logistics is expected to grow to about 16.6 billion U.S. dollars.
Infrastructures such as pre-cooling systems in factories and farms are made use of in the initial stage of supply procurement. Goods and products are then transported in refrigerated trucks, railway wagons, or air cargo containers. Between 2000 and 2016, there was a 181 billion U.S. dollar change in the air trade value of pharmaceutical products worldwide, the third highest commodity behind high tech products and machinery parts. Goods are then moved to cold storage in refrigerated warehouses before reaching the end consumer through factories, ports, terminals, retail and other markets.
As of 2016, the overall global capacity of refrigerated warehouses reached around 600 million cubic meters. In 2017, the gross refrigerated storage capacity in the United States dropped to 3.6 million cubic meters. The leading provider in refrigerated warehousing and logistics provider in the world is Atlanta-based company, Americold Logistics. In 2017, Americold alone generated over 1.5 billion U.S. dollars in net revenue and accumulated a capacity of up to 26.8 million cubic meters in temperature-controlled space in the U.S. and Canada alone. In North America, the capacity of refrigerated warehouses amounted to over 136 million cubic meters in 2016.