India's cold chain sector is on the cusp of growth and innovation, according to Dr Surendra Ahirwar, Joint Secretary, Ministry of Commerce and Industry, Department for Promotion of Industry and Internal Trade (DPIIT).

According to a press release, speaking at FICCI's Cold Chain and Logistics Summit, Dr Ahirwar underscored the sector's vital role in ensuring food security and reducing waste. Dr Ahirwar noted that the cold chain sector currently boasts a turnover of about ₹2 lakh crore and is expanding rapidly at a rate exceeding 10 per cent annually.

"As per one estimate, we are going to reach a ₹5 lakh crore limit, maybe by 2030 or 2032", he said. This robust growth trajectory is driven by innovations, infrastructure development, and collaborative efforts between industry and academia. Highlighting some of the sector's advancements, Dr Ahirwar pointed to temperature-controlled warehousing, ice battery technology, and efficient packaging solutions as pivotal innovations.

He also emphasized the government's role in fostering an enabling environment for these developments, mentioning the PM GatiShakti National Master Plan initiative, which accelerates infrastructure development, including temperature-controlled warehouses. Additionally, the National Logistics Policy launched in 2022 comprehensively addresses various logistics sector aspects, including the cold chain.

Asheesh Fotedar, Chief Operating Officer of the National Centre for Cold-Chain Development (NCCD), Ministry of Agriculture, elaborated on NCCD's initiatives aimed at strengthening India's cold chain infrastructure with a focus on sustainability, efficiency, and innovation.

NCCD is revising technical standards and minimum guidelines to implement cold-chain components across the sector. These updated guidelines will act as a roadmap for central and state government bodies setting up cold chain facilities nationwide. In addition to revising guidelines, NCCD is developing a mobile application designed to digitalize data related to cold chain components. This app aims to increase capacity utilization, reduce fuel costs, and minimize the carbon footprint.

It will also capture relevant logistic data to aid in policy making and analytics. Amit Kumar, Committee Co-Chairman of the FICCI Committee on Logistics and Director of Pristine Logistics and Infraprojects, emphasized the importance of developing sustainable infrastructure and adopting smart technologies to optimize energy usage and reduce environmental impact.

"We stand at a pivotal juncture where technology diffusion, policy initiatives, and market demand present unparalleled opportunities for the cold chain sector. By placing sustainability at the forefront, we can mitigate environmental impact, uphold economic viability, and fortify food security," Kumar stated. The summit also saw the release of the FICCI-Grant Thornton Bharat Report on "Cold Chain Dynamics: Mapping India's Logistics Transformation."

This report highlights India's dynamic food processing industry, emphasizing the role of the cold chain sector in addressing challenges such as infrastructure gaps and high costs.