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Cold chain market: Great room, open opportunities

Vietnam’s cold chain market has a scale of nearly US$10 billion. This is also a market with great room and opportunities for supply enterprises. However, domestic firmshave not really focused on participating in this potential market.

Abundant room

According to a survey by Euromonitor, the market for refrigerated foods in the retail industry is worth about US$1.2 billion. If healthcare pharmaceuticals that depend on cold supply chains are included, this scale could reach nearly US$10 billion by 2020, not to mention the aquatic and seafood sectors.

Julien Brun, Managing Director of CEL Consulting Vietnam, said that Vietnam was losing a large amount of food, being higher than the average of Southeast Asia, due to the lack of cold and cooltechnology for transport and storage. The cause of this great waste comes from the incomplete cold and cool logistics market in Vietnam. Currently, Vietnam is mainly small service provider, serving sporadically to some points or regions, and unable to cover the entire food chain.

According to experts, in addition to the fact that the capacity of the national cold warehouse system canonly partially meet the needs of use, the coldwarehouse structure is not suitable for requirements, especially the lack of coldwarehouses for deep storage for seafood. In addition to the shortage of total capacity, there is also a gap due to unreasonable distribution and uneven technology levels. In addition, the cold supply chain for food to the domestic market in restaurants and supermarkets is still very limited. Most of the firms operating in the coldchain are domestic firms (48%) with a small scale. Because of this feature, operation of chain is often segmented in stages instead of running throughout and lack of high value activities.

Facing this, both manufacturers and retailers are looking for ways to improve and this is the opportunity for the cold chain. Notably, the room for this industry is still large because cold chain growth often follows the growth of retail chains, food and beverage production. These industries have recorded high growth recently.

Catch the opportunity

In recent years, the modern food retail industry has developed rapidly thanks to the growth of the Vietnamese economy anda middle class concern about food hygiene and safety. In parallel, the cold chain industry also grows by an estimated 15-20% per year. According to the Vietnam Association of Seafood Exporters and Producers (VASEP), the actual cold storage capacity in Vietnam has not kept pace with the industry’s demand. Meanwhile, cold storage is not only a necessary condition for enterprises to purchase all raw materials including shrimp and fishes produced by farmers, but also a main link to help enterprises create a large source of goods, meeting export contractswhen market demand increases again.

Seeing opportunities andcatching market development opportunities, Vietnamese enterprises participating in cold chain service supply have expanded their warehouses as well as automation application to their operations in cold distribution centers (DC),to reduce dependence on human resources andprevent the impact of the pandemic.

In which, ABA Cooltrans, the leading enterprise in the cold supply chain with a 12% market share in refrigeration and in the top threein cold storage – has just opened one DC in Thu Duc, Ho Chi Minh City. This is the third DC of ABA Cooltrans following two DCs in HCM City and Hanoi, bringing the total area of existing cold distribution centres to about 5,000 m2, reaching an estimated capacity of 8,000 tons, total invested valueis about 250 billion dong.

According to Luong QuangThi, General Director of ABA, with DC Eastern 1, ABA would be able to proactively ensure clients’ business plan not to be interrupted during difficult times due to pandemic. This is also a way to confirm a strategic development to meet the increasing demand for food distribution of customers in HCM City.

Recently, the Hung Vuong Joint Stock Company (HVG) also put into operation a cold storage in Tan Tao Industrial Park (Binh Tan, HCM City). Built on an area of nearly 4ha, total investment capital of 1,300 billion VND, warehouse has 60,000 pallets, capacity is from 60,000 to 70,000 tonnes of goods. Up to now, according to HVG, this is the largest cold storage warehouse in Vietnam and Southeast Asia, ranking secondin the world in terms of design capacity (behind only cold storage in Spain – 65,800 pallets capacity).

According to Duong Ngoc Minh, Chairman of HVG, the current demand for cold storage in Vietnam was very large andmany large corporations had invested in cold storage in Vietnam. Since 2017, the company had a construction plan and prepared capital, human resources, selected equipment suppliers as well as construction units. To date, everything had been completed and HVG officially put the warehouse into operation. With an average warehouse rental price of about 20,000 VND per tonneeach day, HVG expected to recover capital within four years. At the same time, the company was preparing to invest in another warehouse in HiepPhuoc port.