Report of ASEAN cold chain: Features and main motives


The size of the ASEAN cold chain logistics market is currently around US$10,5 billion and is predicted to reach a CAGR of over 10,6% in the period of 2021-2026. The COVID-19 pandemic and its aftermath have had an impact on the cold chain logistics sector with major changes in operations, supply chains, regulations and workforce requirements.

The growing urban population and changing consumer perceptions have driven the need for transportation and cold storage. The market of refrigerated/frozen products is growing rapidly in Southeast Asia. According to the Economic Research Institute for ASEAN and East Asia (ERIA), Thailand has a total capacity of 940.000 tons for both public and private cold storage facilities. In Vietnam, cold storage capacity has also increased in recent years. Cold storage capacity in Indonesia and Myanmar is 370.200 tons and 88.148 tons respectively, but these figures only represent the capacity of large companies, not including small cold storage facilities.

Food distribution is rapidly shifting from traditional markets to supermarkets and convenience stores. Refrigerated and frozen products are easier to purchase because large distributors offer insulated truck transportation. The quality of local cold chain services varies widely, but the rate of loss in circulation in ASEAN is high due to limited cold storage capacity (it is estimated that 90% of Southeast Asia was created in transit).

Increasing meat consumption promotes cold chain logistics in ASEAN countries

The increasing trend of meat and processed food consumption has a direct impact on the ASEAN cold chain market. The five main emerging markets in the region are Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Thailand and Vietnam. In recent years, meat consumption has also increased, and fish and seafood are also widely consumed in ASEAN. Each Southeast Asian country has different characteristics of meat consumption, reflected in their consumption and production levels.

Malaysia has great production potential in the production and processing of poultry products, with the highest production value among Southeast Asian countries. With an annual per capita poultry meat consumption of 50 kg/person, the country is self-sufficient in both supply and demand. Thailand, the largest producer of poultry exports in the world, as well as a significant number of consumer, according to statistics from 2020, each Thais consumes 8 kg of poultry annually. By the end of 2021, reports from international agencies predicted that beef production will increase to 58 million tons this year, up 1% from 2021. However, increased meat consumption creates great demand for cold chain logistics services.

Vietnam and the Philippines are the next two largest pork consumers in the region, with annual per capita consumption of 25 kg and 14,9 kg, respectively. Since all these meat products are temperature sensitive, they must be delivered same day to retail stores, convenience stores. In addition, the demand for frozen packaged foods is also driving cold chain logistics in the ASEAN region.

Motivation from the pharmaceutical and cosmetic sectors

Rising income levels in ASEAN countries and changing lifestyles are the main drivers of growth in meat production and consumption in these regions, with Indonesia and Vietnam being the main drivers of growth. The ASEAN pharmaceutical industry has a market capitalization of 148,3 billion USD in the projected years. Most drugs are temperature sensitive and need to be transported to the last mile, especially the delivery of the COVID-19 vaccine.

In recent years, global brands have begun to focus on the Islamic economy to capitalize on the growing purchasing power and shifting preferences of consumers. About 260 million Muslims live in the ASEAN region, most of them in Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand, Philippines, Singapore, Myanmar and Brunei. The number of halal lifestyle events and campaigns held across the region over the past decade has stimulated interest in Muslim travel, food, fashion and cosmetics.

SPC Group, a major Korean food company, intends to expand into Malaysia to take advantage of opportunities from the halal food industry.

Competitive features

Overall, the ASEAN cold chain logistics market is still quite fragmented with a mix of global and local players. Small and medium-sized local companies still serve the market with small truck fleets and warehouses. Some countries, like Singapore, have a strong presence of global companies, like DHL and Nippon Express. In addition, global companies are also investing in the market and acquiring local companies to increase their footprint in the region.

Furthermore, Japanese logistics companies strengthen their operations in the ASEAN region by setting up trucking facilities in ASEAN countries, thereby promoting the construction of supply chains. Companies are also involved in cold chain development and actively invest in logistics related to vegetables, flowers, cosmetics and consumer goods.

E-commerce is redefining online shopping, and the increase in sales of chilled and frozen items creates a need for cold supply chain infrastructure, including cold shipping, efficient storage and supply chain. Online shoppers no longer see e-commerce as a buying channel to get discounts on expensive goods like appliances; they have instead expanded their online shopping preferences to include less expensive necessities like food, clothing, and cosmetics.

The dramatic expansion of fresh food sales also creates new opportunities and challenges for cold storage leasing in Southeast Asia. As supermarkets are under pressure from an increase in online transactions, the responsibility for storage and transportation will fall to logistics service providers. Modern, packaged cold chain logistics services are being used by e-commerce businesses to meet this demand as quickly as possible.


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