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The cold chain community in 2021

By Lizelle van der Berg, director – GCCA South Africa

The Global Cold Chain Alliance (GCCA) is a trade association representing the temperature-controlled supply chain, including cold storage, transportation, construction, equipment suppliers, and service providers.

The Global Cold Chain Alliance (GCCA)

The Global Cold Chain Alliance (GCCA)

South Africa is a strong, growing region that has great potential in the cold chain industry and GCCA members are working towards strengthening and growing the cold chain in South Africa. GCCA serves as a focused voice of the cold chain industry and is a platform for communication networking, and education for each link of the cold chain. Here is an update of what GCCA and our member companies have been up to in 2021.

Insurance considerations for cold stores in South Africa

The year started off with a whitepaper “Insurance Considerations for Cold Stores in South Africa” by Curio Risk Solutions and Lockton South Africa. The essential requirement for cold storage facilities in many industries cannot be ignored. Risks associated with these installations can be adequately managed and the risks mitigated through sound fire suppression and detection systems. However, these alone cannot mitigate the risk, thus sound safety and risk management practices must be in place with a focus on reducing the potential ignition sources.

Considerations and options for solar at refrigerated warehouses

GCCA hosted a webinar “Considerations & Options for Solar at Refrigerated Warehouses” in January looking at Solar PV as a technology by summarising the technologies and processes that turn sunlight into usable energy, with specific references to cold storage facilities. The various factors that influence price and performance were discussed, along with common misconceptions and hidden costs. The numerous contractual options were addressed, as well as the regulatory processes that govern them. Lastly, Energy Partners Solar provided a look toward the future and to carbon neutral cooling facilities.

USA poultry and egg export council

The USA Poultry & Egg Export Council (USAPEEC) is a non-profit trade association, and works with government and industry across the globe, including GCCA. Many commercial cold storage facilities have product arriving at their facilities, which then awaits veterinary approval and release from DALRRD. Often rejection notices are issued to the importers, and this leads to long delays for clearing product. USAPEEC has advised GCCA that they are able to assist with speeding up documentation issues for US poultry products.

GCCA committee and council meetings

The GCCA Food Safety & Compliance Committee had their second meeting in February where an update on amended regulations was given and various regulations that impact the performance of the industry were also discussed. The GCCA Advisory Council also had their second meeting contributing their experience, influence, and understanding of the industry to improve and develop the cold chain.

Challenges and trends with possible solutions and opportunities were discussed. This council helps provide objective, guidance, and act as a sounding board on how to implement best-practices in the region. The next committee and council meetings are scheduled for June.

Industry meeting

In March, GCCA members and other industry players attended the GCCA Virtual Cold Chain Connection, an industry meeting bringing together around 20 cold chain executives for focused, high-quality discussions.

Participants discussed the South African industry in terms of IT and a move toward digitisation/digital transformation and the increasing interest in automation and industry concerns. The state of the import and export market was also highlighted, with chicken imports down -20%, bone-in chicken imports being hit with a 62% tariff and the anti-dumping policy in place against Brazil and certain European countries.

The maturity of the South African industry in terms of environmental sustainability, Eskom and the inconsistent supply of electricity as well as the scheduled price increase were discussed. It is said to be a very positive year for fruit exports from South Africa. However, fruit exports are dependent on port efficiencies and reefer container availability which will be a big challenge this year.

Updates were also provided on the cold storage industry in other countries and regions. One example was an update on the industry in Brazil, which discussed consolidation taking place, insurance challenges, the cost of automation, environmental sustainability, and regulatory challenges. Additionally, in Latin America, the increased use of technology to keep traceability, the growth of e-commerce and the effect on the industry, insurance challenges and the trend towards environmental sustainability were highlighted.

Europe is experiencing high occupancy levels and FMCG companies are pressuring the industry toward sustainable and environmental-friendly operations. Insurance cover challenges, shortage of skilled workers and the increasing interest in Blockchain technology was covered.

In the US, retailers are keeping higher levels of stock at cold storage facilities and new facilities and companies are entering the industry and we are seeing a trend towards consolidation.

Cold store operations short course

The Virtual Cold Store Operations Short Course was hosted 3-6 May 2021 with 32 students in attendance. The interaction and participation showed that students are eager to learn more on the specific topic of Cold Storage.

Instructors included industry experts in South Africa, Canada, and United States. Feedback from students showed how valuable the Short Course was to them. Some of the feedback included: “It was very interesting and very engaging”, “The course made it possible for me to compare what the organisation I work for is doing and what was being shared in the modules. It was very interesting to hear the shared challenges faced by fellow trainees in the course”, “The short course was innovative and refreshing when you see and learn how other logistics companies operate”.

The short course was a great success and provided information for both professional and personal development.

Productivity and benchmarking report for refrigerated warehouses

GCCA’s Productivity and Benchmarking Report (PBR) has been labelled by members in the United States, Brazil, Latin America, and Europe as one of GCCA’s most valuable resources.

The Productivity and Benchmarking Survey has been tailored and sent out to warehouse members in South Africa. This survey is the only performance and benchmarking data for the temperature-controlled warehousing and logistics industry in South Africa.

The online benchmarking platform allows participants to compare their warehouse operations to others across the industry, evaluating their performance in valuable KPI categories such as labour expenses, electricity expenses, inventory turns and product throughput.

Africa Future Leader Award

The GCCA Africa Future Leader Award recognises outstanding young professionals in the African cold storage industry who show potential for future career advancement but have not yet risen to top-level leadership positions within their country.

To be eligible for the award, applicant must be an employee of GCCA warehouse member company, be 35 years of age, or younger at the time of the award application deadline, possess a minimum of three years of work experience in any sector of the industry, possess insight into their company’s values, policies, and strategic direction and demonstrate excellence in their work and show potential to advance further in their career.

Applicants for the award will be evaluated by a panel of industry leaders. After presentations and interviews the GCCA Africa Future Leader Award Recipient will be announced and will represent Africa in the GCCA Global NextGen Award program, competing against future leaders from other GCCA member regions across the globe.

Cold storage standard terms and conditions

LHL Attorneys and Corporate Advisors are working with GCCA to create standard terms and conditions for cold storage members specific to South Africa. LHL Attorneys has many years of experience in the cold storage industry and the final draft of standard terms and conditions are being reviewed. This should be available to members as of June this year.

Creating a world-class refrigerated warehouse

On 29 June 2021 we looked at factors that drive the development of an ideal refrigerated warehouse, as well as upgrading and modernising some of the elements of an existing refrigerated warehouse.

Using the right technology for the right application was on the agenda along with automation in the webinar “Creating a World Class Refrigerated Warehouse” presented by Martin Bailey, chairman of Industrial Logistic Systems and sponsored by Jungheinrich.

GCCA Risk Management Committee

At the time of publishing, the GCCA Risk Management Committee would be announced in June. The purpose of the committee is to provide a permanent space for discussion, study and review of the legislation and standards in force, which the warehouses are subordinated.

The committee would discuss the laws, regulations and best practices effecting the risk management structure of companies, among other topics that directly impact the contracting of insurance for refrigerated warehouses.

WFLO Scientific Advisory Council

GCCA is pleased that we have also been growing the enquiries for the WFLO Scientific Advisory Council with various enquiries being received from GCCA members in South Africa. Members are making use of this eminent group of food scientists, logistics and packaging experts from around the world that comes as a free resource to members and provides cutting-edge research and advise to GCCA members.

Thank you to all GCCA members in South Africa for their participation, making use of GCCA resources and all their efforts in helping to strengthen and grow the cold chain in South Africa.

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