Cold chain sector put to test

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    The newly-launched cold chain industry roadmap will be put to the test in the distribution of the vaccines against the new coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19).

    In a statement, the Board of Investments (BOI)said the Philippine cold chain industry revenues are expected to reach P20 billion by end of 2023 and will surge with the new demand for the storage of vaccines that the country would be importing to fight the virus.

    The BOI said the roadmap is the blueprint for the industry to adapt to the “new normal” and cope with health emergencies and ensure food security.

    BOI quoted Anthony Dizon, president of the Cold Chain Association of the Philippines Inc. as saying the industry’s initial plan is to utilize hub-and-spoke approach for the storage and distribution of the vaccines.

    Dizon said while it is true that cold chain storage facilities are concentrated in urban areas, distribution will be facilitated by temperature-controlled cold chain logistics operators.

    “But before finalizing the plan, the local industry is awaiting final advice from the government as to which vaccine it intends to procure so they can re-assess local cold storage and distribution capability. There needs to be an extensive study to make sure that the supply chain facilities are available to complete the vaccine distribution cycle,” the BOI quoted Dizon as saying.

    BOI managing head Ceferino Rodolfo said the roadmap was designed to ensure industry players can handle the distribution of the vaccines that require certain temperatures.

    Rodolfo said the roadmap also addresses the need to ensure the stable supply of essential food products by prolonging shelf-life, preventing food wastage, building raw materials inventory, and likewise paving the way for higher value-added processing.

    The BOI said a National Cold Chain Committee will be created to implement and monitor programs on the five focus industries of the roadmap, namely:  meat/processed meat, fisheries and aquaculture, dairy, fruits and vegetables, and non-food such as pharmaceuticals and electronics. These would include the promotion of investments in the cold chain in key geographic areas to increase food security and safety in times of supply-disrupting events such as the COVID-19 pandemic.