Pujan Gondalia (AM0512)
Viability Of Cold Storage In India
21 March 2013
COLD CHAIN is now recognized as a sunrise sector in India. It is true that in a country which ranks first in milk production in the world, is number 2 in fruits & vegetables production and has substantial production of marine, meat & poultry products, the country needed a fully developed cold chain sector. However the current scenario reveals that there is a tremendous scope for the development of cold chain facilities. Cold stores form the heart of the cold chain. An overview of the cold storage industry in India indicates that the cold stores have been established initially right from the beginning of twentieth century but the further development was fairly slow. These units were mostly designed for storage of potato and were located in areas like UP, West Bengal, Punjab, Bihar etc. It was only in Sixties that the idea of multi product, multi chamber cold stores was introduced with Maharashtra taking the lead. The cold storage sector is undergoing a major metamorphosis, with the Govt focusing on food preservation. A lot of stress is being laid on energy efficiency as the cold stores are energy intensive. With the advent of newer materials / equipments, every part of a cold chain renders itself amenable for improvement. As a result type of construction, insulation, refrigeration equipment, type of controls – all of them are witnessing changes. Realising the significance of the cold chain industry, it is heartening to note that the Govt has taken initiatives, thru bodies like NHB, to establish standards for all the arms of the cold chain. Efforts are also being made to evolve a new concept – ‘Green Cold Chain’. In short the Cold Chain Industry is in the eye of a revolution. The paper would cover the development of cold storage sector in India with progressive changes in pattern of utilization, designs, construction practices and energy saving concepts.
At the time of Indian independence there were only a few cold stores mainly located in U.P, Punjab & West Bengal. Most of these were bulk cold stores designed for storage of potatoes. These were mainly based on old technology of construction, thermal insulation & refrigeration systems with practically no automation systems. One of the oldest multi chamber cold stores was located in Fruit research station at Pune and was supposedly installed in 1932 during the British rule. This was mainly an experimental station with seven cold rooms which worked on a common brine chilling plant. The unit was mainly used for studying the cold storage parameters for a variety of fruit & vegetables grown in India. This showed that the concept of multi-product cold storage was realised even during the thirties. A few cold stores did exist in Mumbai in the ‘50s with a number of small chambers mainly used for potato, some fruits & dry fruits. During the period between ‘50s & ‘60s the development of the cold storage industry was mainly confined to the states of UP, Punjab, Delhi, Bihar, West Bengal, MP & Gujarat where cold stores of medium and large sizes were set up, but these were mainly bulk storage units for potatoes. However the major development of the concept of multipurpose cold storage unit happened between 1965 to 1970 when a few units were established for storage of a number of products in Bangalore & Pune. MAFCO, a Govt. Undertaking in Maharashtra, established around 1970, played a significant role in promoting the concept of multipurpose cold storage, food processing, freezing & storage of frozen foods and was followed by some private promoters but they were few in numbers. The capacities of multipurpose units, generally, ranged from 1000 MT to 20,000 MT. The largest multipurpose unit with a capacity of 22,000 MT is located in Turbhe industrial area...