Many businesses rely on cold stores to keep perishable items safe, fresh and usable. In recent years, demand in the UK has been rising rapidly for these temperature-controlled storage facilities, but why is this?
Uses of cold stores
Cold stores are used by a wide range of sectors to store items that would otherwise easily spoil or go off. Most commonly, they’re used to keep food with a limited shelf life fresh, and are a frequent addition at food manufacturing or distribution facilities, supermarkets, restaurants and other large catering establishments.
Businesses that deal with organic materials, such as wool or fur, may need to keep items in cold stores to stop them from rotting, and they can often be found at dry cleaning facilities. Florists frequently use cold stores to prevent freshly picked flowers from wilting.
Crucially, pharmaceutical industries rely on cold stores to keep medicines, vaccines and blood samples viable. If these aren’t stored at the right temperature they become inert, or denaturise, which means they won’t be suitable for use.
By controlling the temperature of a cold store, this gives the user flexibility to choose what they store and customise their facilities to suit their requirements. Cold stores ensure safe and correct storage to meet with any relevant industry guidelines, and with many having robust locking systems, they can keep vulnerable, dangerous or expensive items secure.
Increase in demand for cold stores
In recent times, there has been an increase in demand for cold stores in the UK, with the British economy requiring 30-35% of cold storage to meet its current needs. There are a number of factors that may have contributed to this surge.
The way that we shop for food is an influencing factor. More of us now do frequent shops of smaller items rather than one big shop in a large supermarket. This has resulted in smaller convenience stores demanding cold storage facilities. Chilled and frozen food sales are also at an all-time high, boosting the growth of temperature-controlled facilities. In fact, chilled food production is one of the fastest-growing industries in the UK, with budget supermarkets like Aldi and Lidl responsible for much of the growth. Plus, as disposable incomes increase, consumers are demanding more exotic goods, which further drives the need for temperature-controlled environments to maintain freshness of items shipped from overseas. Crucially, more people want better quality produce, and in order to stay competitive, businesses need to react and increase or upgrade their cold storage facilities to ensure this demand is met.
The fastest growing sector of the pharmaceutical industry, speciality pharmaceuticals, is also driving the increase in demand for cold stores. This is because this segment is often reliant on using temperature-controlled facilities. Rather than using standard cooling facilities, however, these tend to be designed as walk-in coolers, as the products used in this segment are very small and stored in boxes rather than pallets.
A changing sector
As demand for cold stores rises, the businesses supplying these facilities are also rapidly responding to meet customers’ needs and improved or stricter industry standards. Technology is also playing a part in customising and specialising the sector, with the industry now vastly different compared to when the first high bay cold storage facilities entered the market. Increasingly, cost-effective cold storage solutions are becoming commonplace, as contractors work with manufacturers to build improved solutions.
As technology advances, cold stores are also becoming much safer, offering peace of mind to UK audiences. The refrigerants used are more efficient, safer and more environmentally friendly, while fire protective materials are being incorporated into cold store designs. Self-extinguishing PIR panels that control smoke and fire penetration are being used, as are fire resistant wool panels that slow down fire development. Increasingly, systems that reduce oxygen levels in cold stores will also help to reduce fires from taking hold.
With cold storage playing such a vital role for many sectors, choosing the right facilities is crucial. 1COLD specialises in the design and construction of a wide range of superior quality cold storage solutions for many sectors. Get in touch to discuss your requirements.