Cold storage struggles to keep up with online food orders


More and more food sales are being made online | Photo by rawpixel.com on Pexels.com

Natalia Welzenbach-Marcu | July 16th, 2019

Online food orders, groceries purchased through Amazon, fruits and vegetables shipped to your door — many people, for various reasons, choose to shop for food online instead of grabbing produce from a local grocery store.

These orders are typically shipped out from warehouses and fulfillment centers. The same holds true for food shipped out to fulfill online orders, with an important difference: food warehouses typically need to be kept cold.

Cold storage centers can be tough to maintain, with internal temperatures averaging around -10 degrees Fahrenheit. Although online grocery sales only account for about 3% of grocery buys overall, that number is expected to steadily rise over the next few years, especially with major grocery chains launching delivery services.

Aversions to preservatives and an increasing demand for natural foods make cold storage more necessary than ever. This shift in food preferences, along with new online grocery store launches and an increasing interest in meal kits, will likely force the US to build about 100 million square feet of new cold storage to keep pace as demand increases over the next five years.

For now, that demand is growing faster than cold storage centers can be built–and the problem is only likely to get worse if builders can’t work fast enough to obtain government permission and construct these buildings. This simply becomes a case of supply needing to rise and meet demand. Online demands are ever-changing — and suppliers have to race to keep up with new waves of customers.

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