Cold Connection

European Cold Chain Conference Revealed Hot Trends in Cold Chain

Cold chain professionals from fifteen countries across Europe, South Africa, Asia and North America attended the 24th European Cold Chain Conference held on 1-3 June as a virtual event.


The educational programme spotlighted industry and economic trends, Brexit current and upcoming impact on cold chain models, investment considerations for small and medium companies, automation as a mean to mitigate risks, refrigeration systems and innovation, transport electrification and cyber attacks as a true threat for 3PLs.


The market update given by Matteo Iagatti from Rabobank showed that China is recovering faster than other regions with positive GDP growth reported post-COVID, while Europe is lagging behind with a fallback in GDP near 7%. Governments’ continued fiscal support and the rollout of vaccination are expected to lead to a positive outlook. Despite the economic conditions, the cold chain sector continues to perform better than last year by an overall average in various segments around 17%. Aggressive consolidation and new cold storage building projects continue to reshape the market landscape.


Another major market disruption is caused by Brexit, the implementation of which is far from being smooth. Many businesses are still struggling to find their way through the various regulations, administrative procedures and significant changes from working in a free trade market to new trade barriers. A panel led by GCCA members Agro Merchants and Eurofrigo (Nichirei group) explained in detail the difficulties businesses are facing today and the expectations when the trade agreement will be fully applied in October 2022.


Other considerations on the horizon include management of various types of risks. Ron Buford, Chair of the International Association of Refrigerated Warehouses (IARW), A Core Partner and warehousing division of GCCA, and President & CEO of Premier Refrigerated Warehouse, explained how his single-facility cold storage business successfully explored smart investment opportunities to increase their capacity while continuing to deliver first-class customer service to new and current customers. Attending cold chain experts shared their experience and views on utilizing automation, high tech and low tech to mitigate labour risks, worsened by the COVID-19 pandemic and impacting operational efficiency and service level, during the Open Automation Forum. While cold chain has never been seen as a ‘sexy’ industry, it has yet become the target of considerable cyber-attacks. In a lively panel discussion on cyber security, leading operators NewCold and Stockhabo (Constellation Cold Logistics group) told how their business has been attacked, how they fought the attack and measures they have taken to prevent future ones.


The Cold Chain Technology conference track, focusing on sustainability, featured a mind-shaking presentation on refrigerated transport electrification by Don Durm, Vice Chair of the International Refrigerated Transportation Association (IRTA), a Core Partner and transportation division of GCCA and Vice President, Customer Solutions, PLM Trailer Leasing; and an insightful comparison of existing refrigeration systems and sustainable alternatives for the future, presented by Mohammed Youbi-Idrissi, Director of Research & Innovation, Cemafroid.


The Cold Chain Café, the most interactive component of the conference, provided an informal open discussion platform for both logistics operators – warehousing and transportation – and building and technology specialists. Topics included sustainability, refrigerated transportation bottlenecks and supply chain models, labour and service, fire prevention and general maintenance, energy efficiency, standards and regulations for a safer future.


The 24th European Cold Chain Conference also kicked off GCCA’s very own talent competition: the 2021 Europe Future Leader Award, announced by the 2020 winner Luca Quaresima, Europe Logistic and Operations Manager, NewCold. The award ecognize outstanding young professionals in the European cold storage industry; applications are open until 31 July, apply or send your champion now!


The conference was sponsored by Wagner Group, Gold Sponsor, and Körber Supply Chain & Automation, Silver Sponsor – learn more here.


The 25th European Cold Chain Conference will be held from 23 to 25 March 2022, in Rotterdam – save the date now!


For all inquiries, contact our European Director Julie Hanson .  2021 European Cold Chain Conference Recording available for purchase here



June 15, 2021

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