Malaysia's Cold Chain Industry Guide


How Climate Change Impact Malaysia’s Cold Chain Industry

Cold Chain Industry Overview March 7, 2022


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Quick Read : 

Do you realise most of the time Malaysians prefer to stay indoors with air-conditioning rather than ambient temperature. This is because Malaysia has a tropical climate with an annual temperature of 25.4°C. In fact, April, May and June are the hottest months of the year. Rainfall also remains high year-round and Malaysia receives about six hours of direct sunlight per day, with cloud cover most likely during the afternoon or evening. 

If you look around you, most, if not all restaurants and upcoming food places and cafes have air-conditioners and their designs cater to indoor environments. Without you knowing, the Earth is now going through rapid climate changes, with global temperatures rising all around. This encompasses not just rising average temperatures but also extreme weather events, shifting wildlife populations and habitats, rising seas and other forms of changes. 

  1. Impact of Climate Change on Food Supply in the Future
  2. The Rise in Demand of Cold Chain
  3. Drawback of Cold Chain
  4. How can Malaysia’s Cold Chain Industry Reduce its Impact on the Climate Change?

Malaysia will get even hotter by the year.


Impact of Climate Change on Food Supply in Future 

The food we consume is ultimately affected by the climate change around us. For example, during hot weather, you want a cold drink or ice-cream and similarly during chilly weather, you’d prefer hot soup or a steamboat.

Climate change has a wide range of effects on human lives and health. It jeopardises the essential components of good health–clean air, safe drinking water, a nutritious food supply, and safe shelter–and has the potential to undo decades of global health progress.

This has a direct impact on agricultural production, with many of our food systems being stretched to their limits. In short, climate change threatens food production. Fruit and vegetable production, for example, a key component of healthy diets, is extremely vulnerable to climate change. Imagine lesser to no green and fresh vegetables and reduced variety of fruits.

The cold chain is now critical in the food system and is defined as the portion of the supply chain between the point of slaughter or harvesting and the point of consumer purchase.


The Rise in Demand of Cold Chain 

Over 200 million tonnes of perishable food products are lost in developing countries due to insufficient cold chain facilities, according to reports. The refrigerated supply chain, also known as the 'cold chain,' is critical for maintaining the quality of perishable products such as fresh food, pharmaceuticals, and vaccines by preventing spoilage and preserving product value.

In developed countries, the cold chain transports more than 90% of fruits and vegetables and nearly 100% of meat and poultry products. As a result, developing countries must prioritise the development of the cold chain industry. Do you know that countries like the US waste over 40 million tons of food every year, and China’s annual wastage of 17 to 18 million tonnes of food is actually enough to feed 30 to 50 million people for a year?

Malaysia, as a developing country, has another reason why the cold chain industry is critical to its economy–our geographical location. Because Malaysia is geographically located near the equator, we have hot weather all year. As a result, having cold storage facilities that aid in the prevention of food waste is critical.


Drawbacks of Cold Chain

The limited data available suggests that the cold chain currently contributes to global CO2 production; however, this is likely to increase if global temperatures rise significantly. In a 2007 report, Garnett estimated that food refrigeration contributed 3–3.5% of GHG emissions in the United Kingdom.


How can Malaysia's Cold Chain Industry Reduce its Impact on Climate Change?

Demand for cold storage warehouses remains steady in Malaysia, and is rapidly expanding. There are two critical factors for all cold chain players to consider when selecting material for cold chain facilities: the refrigeration system comes first, followed by the insulated building material.

According to research, an absorption/compression refrigeration system is proposed to improve overall cycle efficiency. Under the same operating conditions, the COP, excluding pump work and generator energy, can be as high as 5.4–6.2, which is higher than the COP of the single vapour compression cycle and absorption cycle (evaporation temperature at 263K and condensation temperature at 308K). This system provides an opportunity to reduce the ever-increasing amount of electrical energy consumed. 

However, as the cold chain industry expands, structural insulated panels remain the best building material for cold chain facilities due to their high energy-efficiency rating. Malaysia cold chain logistics strongly advises using energy-efficient refrigeration technologies and insulation building materials in cold chain warehouses. It would be possible to significantly extend and improve the cold-chain without increasing CO2, and possibly even lowering it.