Proper cold chain infra will reduce food waste

Sub Zero is a Khira Group company that manufactures advanced technology insulated truck bodies used for transportation of perishable items. Deep Khira, CEO, Sub Zero Insulation Tech Pvt Ltd sheds light on its journey, transitions in cold chain industry, solutions offered by the company, challenges and many more in an interaction with Cooling India.

How has been the journey of Sub Zero Mobile Refrigeration Solution so far?

Jayanand Khira & Co has been manufacturing all types of commercial vehicle bodies since 1949, including reefers since 1984. I joined the Khira about five years back and saw real potential in this sector. I also realised that our technology of manually injecting PU chemical and making heavy steel containers was not the way forward. So, we started researching companies and practices globally. I visited several companies globally to understand various technologies available. We finally decided to invest and set up a future ready factory to develop this business in India. We wanted to create a new company, which only focused on reefers. Hence, Sub Zero Insulation Technologies was formed. From the start of production in 2015, till today has been a fantastic growth story for us and we have been able to establish our brand as a trusted source for high quality reefer trucks.

What are the evolutions that you have witnessed in the cold chain logistics over the past few years?

Over the past few years, we have seen logistics companies primarily focusing on large sized trucks for bulk movement of perishable goods. The SCV and LCV segment has also seen strong growth and this segment demands light weight reefer boxes to maximise the payload.

We are also in recent times witnessing specialised application requirements like multi temperature vehicles to carry goods requiring different temperatures within the same truck, double deck vehicles, tail lifts, etc. Customers are looking at bringing and investing in new technology in cold chain logistics.

What are the solutions offered by the company for the cold chain logistics industry?

Sub Zero primarily focuses on refrigerated trucks. We offer good quality mobile transport solutions well suited to customer requirements. We have solved several customers challenges by providing them with the right solution including multi temperature vehicles in recent times. There is a growing demand for people wanting to deliver products which require 2 or 3 different temperature settings in the same truck.

We use vacuum press technology to ensure that the insulation in our sandwich panels is 100 per cent efficient. Our truck bodies are made with the best in class raw materials imported from Germany ensuring a long life. We use GRP and composite technology to make our bodies light weight thus maximising fuel efficiency and payloads.

Why cold chain is becoming a hot investment area in India?

There are a lot of companies entering this space and it is growing rapidly. the government is also supporting via subsidy to companies that are interested in investing in reefer trucks for horticulture and dairy produce. Despite having enough business potential, the competition amongst all cold chain industry players must be healthy and service oriented instead of being simply price driven.

What are the growth drivers for the industry?

Regulations and directives by the government for movement of any perishable cargo would be the biggest growth driver. These are already applicable for pharmaceutical products. But it should be applicable for all perishable goods.

What are the challenges the industry is facing?

The biggest challenge is lack of proper end to end infrastructure right from collection points, packhouses, processing units, warehouses to retails. When we will have proper infrastructure, we can truly cut down on food waste in the country and be able to reduce food prices and improve profitability across the entire chain.

What impact does Good and Services Tax (GST) have on the cold chain industry?

The introduction of GST has been very good for the cold chain logistics industry. Customers who buy a fully built refrigerated truck (i.e. chassis, insulated body, reefer unit) end up paying 18 per cent GST while 28 per cent needs to be paid only for chassis. This number multiplies significantly for large fleet owners.

What are the future prospects of the cold chain industry in India?

The future looks promising for the cold chain industry. We still have a huge gap to fill up in terms of building requisite infrastructure. We are still working on very small volumes of reefer trucks and cold stores when you think about the scale of our food output and the population of our country.