India’s Cold Storage Capacity

Note: This blog post was originally published on the MIT Public Service Center website. It’s the third post in a blog series sharing findings from a research project I’m working on throughout the month of January.

January 14, 2012

Paul Artiuch and Sam Kornstein are graduate students at the MIT Sloan School of Management. Throughout the month of January they are researching market-oriented approaches to reducing agricultural food waste in India. They will be sharing their project scope and some of their findings in this blog series.

Cold storage facilities, essentially refrigerated warehouses, can reduce agricultural price volatility, helping to minimize food waste and increase income for various supply chain stakeholders. The benefits of cold storage are simple: most types of produce have shelf lives ranging from just a few days to a couple weeks when kept at room temperature. Farmers and traders are forced to quickly get their produce to consumers, even if there’s too much supply in the market. This can result in low prices that often don’t even cover the price of production and transport. In the most extreme cases, when the market is flooded with a particular item, it makes more economic sense for farmers to just let certain crops rot in the field, rather than spend the time and money to harvest them.

Cold storage can extend the shelf life of produce for months or longer, buying farmers and traders valuable time. Fruits and vegetables can be stored while prices are low and there’s little demand, and then released into the market when prices rise again. Since this process regulates supply, it helps stabilize prices over time, which is one of the reasons produce prices in developed countries are less volatile than those in developing countries.

India lacks sufficient cold storage for the majority of the country’s produce. However, in recent years there’ve been significant investments made by both the private sector and the government to increase capacity. While this is a positive trend, enormous challenges remain. We met with two privately owned cold storage trading companies based in Delhi, and learned something interesting. Since cold storage can be so expensive, as it requires capital investments and large amounts of energy, it’s most profitable to use the capacity to store high-value imported goods that are generally consumed by the more affluent customers.

We took a tour of one facility, a giant nine story refrigerated warehouse in North Delhi, and were surprised by what we saw. Imported products such as apples from Washington State, tangerines from China, and kiwis from Italy filled the majority of the shelves. These products sell for as much as fifty times the value of many locally grown products, and as a result, paying to store them to avoid waste and maintain quality makes economic sense. There are exceptions though. One of the firms we met was investing in state of the art cold storage facilities to store and ship Indian-grown apples and other fruits from the foothills of the Himalayas to the rest of the country.

For less expensive products – such as potatoes, onions, and tomatoes – that are prone to rotting and are staples for the majority of the lower income population, the cost of cold storage can exceed the value of the goods. The government has stepped in and subsidized storage in many areas, but this support often doesn’t address the problem.

Potatoes are a perfect example. A couple years ago there was a potato shortage in India, and prices spiked. In response, many farmers grew potatoes in the following seasons, and as a result, there’s now too much supply and prices have plummeted. Many potatoes have ended up in subsidized cold storage facilities; however, in some regions, prices are so low it’s not even worth harvesting them. In protest, many farmers have been leaving piles of rotting potatoes in the streets to show the government their dissatisfaction.

While cold storage has clear potential to reduce food waste, it’s apparent that without innovation, price reductions, thoughtful policy, and subsidies, the storage capacity will not be filled with the low-value crops that are both food staples across India and are also most likely to go to waste.

Paul and Regina stand with boxes of imported fruit in a nine story refrigerator:
DSC 1124 e1326547174571 Indias Cold Storage Capacity
Apples shipped from Washington state sit in a cold storage facility in Delhi:
DSC 1121 e1326547343223 Indias Cold Storage Capacity

Refrigerated trucks deliver cold produce between locations:
DSC 1120 e1326547448351 Indias Cold Storage Capacity

This entry was posted in Research, Travel and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

19 Responses to India’s Cold Storage Capacity

  1. Pingback: The Punjab Potato Party | Something's Brewing

  2. Pingback: India’s Lack of Food Processing | Something's Brewing

  3. Thank you very much for the awareness.Is it possible for me to get information on where to buy affordable,whole cold storage room equipment,from India?Thanks

  4. Pramod says:


    Would it be possible to share details of the company that is building its own warehouse just for apples? need it for a research i am conducting


  5. low cost good quality we are design manufacturing for cold room , cold storag , Puf panel , Ripening Chanmber , Blast Freezer & chiller , Pre Cooler , All types Refrigeration Systems Design +25c to –35c , Puf Panel 60mm to 200mm came lock & continuous Panel 12 meter Hight. At Refreecool Systems Private Limited 9898006409

  6. Varun Kumar says:

    Hello, I am a MBA student and researching on how to reduce food/agriculture wastage in india. For this I am studying cold storage in india. Would it be possible for you to share your research work with us. My email id is

  7. Aejas Lakhani says:

    Hi. Interesting article. Looking to learn more about your paper. Any chance that i can have a glance?

  8. John Smith says:

    In today’s hectic business schedules, packing, loading & unloading can be time consuming and tedious process. As some of the rental vans are not equipped with modern features and spacious interiors, you might not be able to store all your items in a single rental van. To make moving hassle-free with expert man and van services in the town.

  9. Manufacturers and exporters of PUF Sandwich Panels and puf panels. Contact us for high quality PUF Sandwich Panels and puf panels with higher level of performance.

  10. I prefer the particular information you provide for a reports. Let me take note of the blog site in addition to test just as before right here regularly. I am just reasonably ‘ will likely be informed a lot of brand new material good the following! Best of luck for the!

  11. KAPIL KUMAR says:

    Dynamic Telesystems Private Limited. CONSULTING DESIGNING ENGINEERING IMPLEMENTING A part of professionally managed company, set up it’s 1st unit in the year 1989-1990.
    An established engineering firm that designs art commercial Prefabricated Shelter of the highest order incorporated in 2006.
    Dynamic Telesystems is a well know name in this business & has satisfied a large number of clients with our innovative designs, qualitative operations and first rate materials.
    • Cold Storages,
    • Prefab Houses,
    • Telecom Shelters,
    • Clean Rooms,
    • Site Offices,
    • Mobile Houses,
    • Dispensaries,
    • High Altitude Houses,
    • Industrial Sheds,
    • Security Guard Cabins and
    • PCO Booths

  12. KAPIL KUMAR says:

    Dynamic Telesystems Private Limited. CONSULTING DESIGNING ENGINEERING IMPLEMENTING Cold Storages, •
    • Prefab Houses,
    • Telecom Shelters,
    • Clean Rooms,
    • Site Offices,
    • Mobile Houses,
    • Dispensaries,
    • High Altitude Houses,
    • Industrial Sheds,
    • Security Guard Cabins and
    • PCO Booths etc.

  13. Cold storage warehouse Chicago says:

    Cold storage units can be used to store either a single commodity or multiple commodities.

  14. VIJAYAN says:

    looking for cold storage

  15. khalid says:

    60 mm puf panel and door 900mm×1800mm pricelist please send

  16. Hot Glove says:

    Thanks for the unique tips discussed on this website. I have realized that many insurance companies offer buyers generous special discounts if they favor to insure many cars with them. A significant amount of households currently have several motor vehicles these days, specifically those with elderly teenage kids still residing at home, as well as the savings in policies may soon increase. So it will pay to look for a good deal.

  17. African Scarves says:

    I keep listening to the news talk about getting boundless online grant applications so I have been looking around for the finest site to get one. Could you advise me please, where could i find some?

  18. Black Diamond Legend Glove says:

    I like the valuable information you supply on your articles. I’ll bookmark your weblog and take a look at again right here frequently. I am quite certain I will be told many new stuff proper here! Best of luck for the next!

  19. elshaddairefrigeration says:

    I go through your website it’s very good and having good information about the Cold Room Suppliers, and we are also having similar products if you want to know more about the prducts you can visit us.

    Cold Room Suppliers, Cold Room suppliers manufacturers

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>