how to start a cold storage business in India

How To Start a Cold Storage Business – Complete Guide

Do you want to start a cold storage business? Find here a detailed cold storage business plan sample checklist for your ready reference including cost, investment, machinery, profitability, and subsidy information.

If you are looking for a one-time investment business, then starting cold storage is just perfect for you. Generally, in this business, the initial investment is higher compared to other small businesses. However, this type of business ensures a constant return on a long-term basis.

Cold storage is a profitable business both in developing and developed countries. You will find two different types of cold storage according to the storage facility. One is specific for one product (for example potato) and another is multipurpose. However, multi-purpose cold storage ensures better returns and profitability overall.

Table of Contents

What is a Cold Storage Business?

A cold storage business is a specialized enterprise dedicated to providing temperature-controlled storage facilities for a variety of perishable goods. The primary objective is to create an environment that preserves the freshness and quality of items that are sensitive to temperature, such as fruits, vegetables, dairy products, pharmaceuticals, and more.

Key Components of a Cold Storage Business

a) Temperature-Controlled Warehousing

The cornerstone of a cold storage business is the provision of warehouses equipped with advanced temperature control systems. These facilities are meticulously designed to maintain specific temperature ranges suited to the requirements of different products.

b) Logistics and Distribution

Cold storage businesses often integrate logistics and distribution services. This involves the efficient transportation of temperature-sensitive goods from producers to the storage facility and, subsequently, to various points in the supply chain.

c) Monitoring and Security Systems

State-of-the-art monitoring systems are essential to ensure that the designated temperatures are consistently maintained. Security measures, including surveillance and access controls, are implemented to safeguard the stored goods.

d) Customized Storage Solutions

The flexibility to cater to diverse products is a hallmark of a successful cold storage business. This includes offering customizable storage solutions to accommodate the unique requirements of different industries.

e) Technology Integration

Embracing technological advancements is crucial. Cold storage businesses leverage cutting-edge technologies such as IoT (Internet of Things) for real-time monitoring, automated systems for inventory management, and energy-efficient solutions to reduce operational costs.

f) Compliance with Regulations

Adherence to local and international regulations governing the storage and transportation of temperature-sensitive goods is paramount. This involves maintaining stringent quality control measures to meet industry standards.

g) Collaboration with Stakeholders

Collaborative partnerships with producers, distributors, and retailers form the backbone of a cold storage business. Establishing a robust network ensures a seamless flow of goods through the supply chain.

h) Energy Efficiency Measures

Given the energy-intensive nature of maintaining low temperatures, cold storage businesses implement energy-efficient practices. This includes utilizing eco-friendly refrigeration systems and exploring sustainable energy sources.

i) Risk Management Strategies

Due to the nature of the goods being stored, effective risk management strategies are imperative. This involves having contingency plans for power outages, equipment failures, and other potential disruptions.

Is Cold Storage a Profitable Business in India?

As per this report, in 2022, the size of the cold chain industry in India was around 16 million U.S. dollars, and it is forecast to reach 36 million dollars in 2027. In 2021, pharmaceutical products took up more than two-thirds of the cold chain storage in India.

The Indian government provides various incentives and subsidies to promote cold storage infrastructure.
Profitability Impact: Entrepreneurs can leverage these benefits to enhance their financial viability, making it an attractive proposition.

The frozen food market in India is witnessing a surge, expected to reach USD 1.3 billion by 2024. Besides, cold storages have an important role in reducing the wastage of perishable commodities. In addition, it helps in providing remunerative prices to the growers and to make available farm products to the consumers at competitive and affordable prices. Additionally, changing lifestyles and demand for processed or packaged food are creating the need for cold storage solutions globally.

India is a significant exporter of agricultural produce, with a focus on improving cold chain logistics. Cold storage facilitates the export of quality agricultural products, tapping into global markets and driving revenue.

Benefits of a Cold Storage

Cold storage facilities have become the backbone of various industries, offering a myriad of benefits that span from preserving freshness to enhancing global trade. Let’s delve into the key advantages that make cold storage an invaluable asset:

⇒ Preservation of Freshness

Cold storage maintains low temperatures, slowing down the natural decay of perishable items. This ensures that fruits, vegetables, dairy products, and other sensitive goods retain their freshness for an extended period.

⇒ Prevention of Spoilage

By controlling temperature and humidity, cold storage inhibits the growth of microorganisms that lead to spoilage. This prevention is instrumental in reducing food wastage and ensuring that products reach consumers in optimal condition.

⇒ Extended Shelf Life

The controlled environment provided by cold storage significantly extends the shelf life of products. This is particularly critical for items with a short natural lifespan, allowing businesses to manage inventory effectively.

⇒ Market Accessibility

Cold storage facilities enable producers to store surplus goods during peak seasons and release them strategically to meet market demands throughout the year. This flexibility is essential for sustaining a consistent supply chain.

⇒ Supply Chain Efficiency

Cold storage is a linchpin in the supply chain, especially in agriculture and food processing. It facilitates the storage of bulk produce, ensuring a steady and reliable flow of goods from producers to distributors and, ultimately, to consumers.

⇒ Global Trade Facilitation

In the realm of international trade, cold storage is indispensable. It allows for the transportation and storage of goods that require specific temperature conditions, fostering the seamless movement of products across borders.

⇒ Quality Retention

Sensitive products like pharmaceuticals, chemicals, and vaccines require precise temperature control to maintain their efficacy. Cold storage ensures that these items retain their quality, contributing to public health and safety.

⇒ Diversification of Products

Cold storage empowers businesses to diversify their product offerings. Whether it’s a variety of dairy products or an array of flowers, the ability to store different goods in optimal conditions enhances market competitiveness.

⇒ Reduced Post-Harvest Losses

Agricultural economies benefit significantly from cold storage as it mitigates post-harvest losses. Surplus produce can be stored temporarily, preventing it from perishing before it reaches the market.

⇒ Adaptation to Climate Variability

Cold storage acts as a buffer against unpredictable weather conditions, allowing farmers and distributors to adapt to climate variations. This adaptability is crucial for maintaining a stable supply chain.

12 Steps to Start a Cold Storage Business

1. Market Research

Before diving in, conduct thorough market research. Identify the demand for cold storage services in your target location and assess the competition.

2. Create A Business Plan

Starting a cold storage business demands strategic planning and careful implementation. Therefore, crafting a business plan or project report is the most important aspect of starting this business. According to your investment capacity, you will need to decide the business size.

Additionally, you must have financial planning with a projected ROI and payback period. A business plan helps you in numerous ways. It helps in commencing the business properly, getting finance, and ensuring smooth operations.

3. Obtain The Permissions & Licenses

Understand and comply with the legal and regulatory requirements for establishing and operating a cold storage facility. It depends on the specific location where you are starting the business. You need to obtain the necessary licenses and permits from local authorities.

4. Secure A Location

Location plays an important role in this business. Choose a strategic location that is easily accessible and has good connectivity. Proximity to agricultural regions and major transportation routes is advantageous. Additionally, you will need to procure approximately one acre of land for a multi-purpose/multi-commodity cold storage plant of 5000 MT capacity.

5. Cost of Starting a Cold Storage Business

The initial investment is very high in this business. Generally, the investment includes acquiring the land, building construction, obtaining permissions and licensing, and arranging utilities like water, electricity, etc. Additionally, you will need to invest a major startup capital in procuring the cooling machinery. Generally, modern and updated machinery ensures better performance and long-term sustainability.

Apart from the above-mentioned fixed costs, you will need to consider the working capital expenses also. The major considerations are staffing, utility bill payment, and promotional expenses.

The cost and investment will largely depend on the scale of the cold storage unit. However, according to experts, the estimated project cost for setting up 5000 MT Cold Storage may be in the range of Rs. 3 Crore – 4 Crores in Indian Rupees. The cost of land is an additional investment you need to make.

6. Arrange Finance

Cold storage is a capital-intensive business. You must have an investment capacity of 3 to 4 Corers for commencing this business. Generally, you can set up this business with financial help from banks. In addition, check if there are any subsidies or Govt. grants available for this business.

7. Cold Storage Business Subsidy

In India, the National Horticulture Board provides subsidies for cold storage businesses for entrepreneurs. You will need to apply online. There you will need to fill up an online IPA (In-Principle Approval) application Form. Before applying, carefully read and understand the Operational Guidelines of the relevant scheme.

8. Setting Up Your Cold Storage Facility

  • Infrastructure: Invest in quality infrastructure with modern refrigeration systems. Ensure that your facility is equipped to handle a variety of products with different temperature requirements.
  • Storage Capacity: Determine the scale of your cold storage facility based on market demand. Adequate storage capacity allows you to cater to a larger client base.
  • Safety Measures: Implement stringent safety measures to protect stored goods and maintain optimal storage conditions. This includes fire safety systems, security measures, and backup power sources.

Also Read: Best Agriculture Business Ideas with Low Investment

9. Procuring Equipment and Technology

  • Refrigeration Units: Invest in energy-efficient refrigeration units that can maintain varied temperature ranges for different products. Regular maintenance is crucial to prevent breakdowns.
  • Warehouse Management System (WMS): Implement a robust WMS to track inventory, manage stock rotation, and monitor temperature controls. A well-integrated system enhances operational efficiency.
  • Cold Storage Software: Utilize specialized software for cold storage management. This software helps in monitoring temperatures, managing orders, and ensuring compliance with industry standards.
  • Inventory Management: Implement a systematic inventory management system to track product movement, expiry dates, and stock levels. This helps in preventing wastage and ensures timely deliveries.
  • Quality Control: Establish stringent quality control measures to maintain the integrity of stored products. Regular inspections and adherence to hygiene standards are essential.

10. Fix Pricing

Establish competitive yet profitable pricing for your cold storage services. Consider factors like storage duration, volume, and additional services offered.

11. Staffing

Hire skilled personnel with experience in cold storage operations. Provide training on safety protocols, equipment handling, and hygiene practices.

12. Promote Your Cold Storage Business

Build strong relationships with local farmers, food manufacturers, and distributors. Networking is crucial for securing contracts and establishing your presence in the market. Create a professional website highlighting your services, facilities, and contact information. Utilize digital marketing strategies to reach potential clients.

Explore partnerships with businesses in the supply chain, such as logistics providers and wholesalers. Collaborative efforts can lead to mutually beneficial relationships.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the primary purpose of a cold storage business in India?

Cold storage businesses play a crucial role in preserving perishable goods, particularly agricultural produce, by maintaining low temperatures. This helps extend the shelf life of products and minimizes post-harvest losses.

How can one secure funding for initiating a cold storage venture?

Entrepreneurs can explore various avenues for funding, including bank loans, government subsidies, and private investments. Government schemes specifically designed for cold storage infrastructure can provide valuable financial assistance.

Are there specific regulatory requirements for establishing a cold storage unit?

Yes, there are regulatory standards and guidelines set by authorities such as the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) and the Ministry of Food Processing Industries. Compliance with these standards is essential for obtaining necessary licenses.

What are the critical considerations for choosing a suitable location for a cold storage facility?

Proximity to agricultural hubs, transportation networks, and markets is crucial. Additionally, accessibility to a stable power supply, water availability, and compliance with environmental regulations are important factors to assess.

How can technology be integrated for operational efficiency in a cold storage business?

Implementing technologies such as temperature monitoring systems, RFID tracking, and automated inventory management can enhance operational efficiency. These technologies not only ensure precise control over storage conditions but also streamline logistical processes.

Are there specific types of products that can be stored in a cold storage unit?

Cold storage facilities cater to a diverse range of products, including fruits, vegetables, dairy products, pharmaceuticals, and more. The versatility of cold storage allows for the preservation of various perishable items.

What are the key challenges faced by entrepreneurs in the cold storage business?

Challenges may include high initial investment costs, operational energy expenses, and the need for stringent quality control. Entrepreneurs should carefully address these challenges to ensure the long-term sustainability of their cold storage venture.

How can one stay updated on advancements in cold storage technologies?

Keeping abreast of industry publications, participating in relevant conferences, and engaging with industry associations can help entrepreneurs stay informed about the latest technologies and best practices in cold storage.

Is there government support available for cold storage businesses in India?

Yes, the Indian government offers various incentives, subsidies, and schemes to encourage the development of cold storage infrastructure. Entrepreneurs can explore these opportunities to reduce financial burdens.

What is the expected return on investment (ROI) for a cold storage business?

The ROI for a cold storage business can vary based on factors such as scale, location, and operational efficiency. Conducting a detailed feasibility study and financial analysis is essential for projecting realistic ROI expectations.