Food Loss and Wastage:
A crucial driver in developing countries for expanding cold chains is the urgent need to mitigate high levels of food loss and wastage. Approximately half of perishable food is lost before reaching the market, primarily due to the absence of proper cooling infrastructure. Globally, an alarming 1.3 billion tonnes of food, constituting a third of total production, is lost or wasted annually. This comes at a staggering economic cost of roughly US$750 billion each year, with an annual loss of US$4.5 billion in India alone. The demand for food is expected to surge by 40% by 2030.
Asia and Africa collectively account for two-thirds of global food wastage, losing the equivalent of 400 to nearly 600 calories per person per day. Strikingly, up to 90% of food waste in developing countries occurs within the supply chain, with crops and dairy contributing to 92% of this waste. The repercussions of food wastage extend beyond economic losses, as malnutrition affects over 800 million people globally, contributing to lifelong health challenges and lower earnings by up to 22%.
Vaccine Distribution Challenges:
The absence of a continuous cold chain poses significant challenges to the effective distribution of vaccines, which are crucial in preventing over two million deaths annually in developing countries. The global vaccine market, valued at approximately US$24 billion, relies heavily on cold chains for viability. The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that nearly 50% of freeze-dried and 25% of liquid vaccines are wasted each year, with disruptions in the cold chain being a major contributor. The importance of refrigeration in vaccine distribution is exemplified by the success in eradicating polio.
Impact on Healthcare Products:
India, as the world’s third-largest pharmaceutical producer, faces challenges due to inadequate cold logistics. Around 20% of temperature-sensitive healthcare products in India arrive damaged or degraded due to broken or insufficient cold chains, including a quarter of vaccines. Temperature-sensitive medicines, accounting for only 2% of the total volume of medicines, experience significant global market expansion, with turnover increasing by as much as 20% per year. Despite their modest volume, these medicines represent a substantial 15% of the total value of medicines.