Cold chain capabilities grow as market diversifies

The global airfreight market is shifting its attention to higher-value commodities such as the life sciences industry in a bid to shore up sagging yields.


Cold chain capabilities grow as market diversifies


The global airfreight market is shifting its attention to higher-value commodities such as the life sciences industry in a bid to shore up sagging yields. According to Evaluate, a life sciences market research company, biologic sales are forecast to grow six per cent per year to US$208 billion by 2017 and will comprise 23 per cent of the global pharmaceutical market in dollar terms. In 2012, the US Federal Drug Administration (FDA) approved 15 new biological products for instance, all of which require cold-chain handling and storage.

FedEx Express recently announced a new 8,175 sqm facility will have temperature-controlled rooms for -25° C to -10° C, 2° C to 8° C and 15° C to 25° C. It will also have flexible walls that allow for better control over temperatures and monitoring as well as segregation of commodities for CO2 and humidity. The facility is scheduled for completion in 2014 and will be compliant with the European Union’s Transported Asset Protection Association (TAPA) requirements.

However, airports and air cargo providers face competition as more and more pharmaceutical manufacturers chose ocean freight to move goods. As more pharmaceutical patents expire and the growth of generics increases, the costs of air transport may be prohibitive due to the cost structure of generics. In addition, there are questions concerning proper handling and monitoring of such specialised cargo.