Celcius, an online cold chain platform, expects the capacity utilisation of cold storages and reefer vehicles to increase by about a fourth this summer as it seeks to connect more clients with the owners of these assets.

Through its technology platform, Celcius is helping owners of cold storages and reefer vehicles across the country get more business, while enabling clients in sectors such as food, pharma and agriculture get better rates to transport their products.

“We expect the capacity utilisation to go up by 20-25 per per cent this summer,” said Swarup Bose, Founder and CEO, Celcius. Presently, the capacity utilisation of cold storages stands at an average of 60 per cent, while for the reefer vehicles it is around 50-60 per cent on an average.

Supply woes

“The demand for cold chain services is high, but supply is a problem. There are not enough assets to meet the demand,” Bose said, estimating the cold chain logistics market in the country at around $50 billion and growing annually at 20 per cent.

Fleet operators are scared to work in the cold chain logistics segment due to the high capital costs, Bose said, adding that the market is highly fragmented. “There is high demand for cold chain, but the supply does not know where the demand exists. Both are losing in this situation and as a result the assets are not increasing,” Bose said adding that Celcius is helping connect the low supply to the right demand.

“We get about 2.5 times more enquiries than we are servicing,” Bose said that there’s a 100 per cent engagement on the Celcius platform. Besides aggregating the cold chain assets, Celcius offers the entire spectrum of services right from the point of manufacturing or farm gate to the end point delivery at the customer’s premise and make sure that both the parties benefit out of it, he said.

Operating on an asset-lite model, Celcius has about over 4,000 reefer vehicles and 107 cold storages, about 50 riders and 300 last-mile vehicles on its platform connecting some 350 cities across the country. The company has developed its technology platform in-house and is working on incorporating artificial intelligence and machine learning.

Celcius, Bose claimed is the only cold chain platform operating in the country, while others operating in the segment are all asset owners. “We consider them as our partners. We are working with every asset owner in India and our main concentration is on the smaller owners of cold storage and reefer vehicles,” he said.

Celcius’s clientele of around 174 customers includes the likes of Zomato, Zepto, Godrej, Vadilal, Zydus, Dlecta Food, Sumeru Foods and agri start-ups among others. The company has started pilots with some farmer producer organisations encouraging them to utilise the cold chain for transporting the perishable produce offering them rates which are slightly above the dry cargo rates, he said.