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Faced with cold storage overcapacity, British PRWs gear up for big changes.

Faced With Cold Storage Overcapacity, British PRWs Gear Up for Big Changes A fork in the road of U.K. warehousing and food distribution presents option for new direction. Savvy operators respond by developing sophisticated portfolios to meet the 1990s.

The British cold storage industry is currently suffering from overcapacity. This has been caused by a number of factors, including the following:

. Firstly, there has been a decline in intervention stocks, after a period of high demand which attracted new capacity onto the market.

. Secondly, the trend by multiple retailers to adopt composite warehouse solutions has removed a further significant volume base.

. Thirdly, improved information technology has enabled both manufacturers and retailers to make optimum use of "Just in Time" (JIT). This has led to less stock throughout the industry as raw materials are purchased more frequently and finished good stocks are produced to order.

. Finally, there has been a reduction in traditional commodities. Lamb tonnages, always important in British cold stores, have declined as New Zealand producers have started to carry out boning and other added value activities themselves. Changing consumer tastes, with reduced demand for red meats, have also changed the nature of cold store stock holding.

British cold storage concerns are reacting to the changing marketplace in different ways. As one of the major operators, Tempco Union believes that it is well placed to meet the threat of price cutting and rationalization. With 23 cold stores in England, Scotland and Wales, the company provides wide geographical coverage. Some 33 million cubic feet of temperature controlled storage is available on a public or space rental basis, and a wide array of services are provided. After extensive research, these are being extended to suit customer's needs.

JIT is creating increasing pressure on all aspects of the entire logistics chain. Many companies are now employing third party specialists to carry out certain services, such as public cold storage or secondary distribution. Certainly there is a need for a complete temperature controlled logistics service to primary producers, manufacturers and retailers. This would comprise trunking, temperature controlled storage, product improvement and quality control services, stock management and both primary and secondary distribution (local and national). Together with sister company Alpine Refrigerated Deliveries, Tempco Union now offers a completely integrated logistics service to handle temperature controlled needs. Whether demand is for a "one off" or spot hire of a specific service or contracting out all storage and distribution, the NFC temperature controlled service company can provide a unique offering to the frozen food industry.

Another important service recently introduced is microwave tempering. Aimed at the meat processor, the process involves the use of a microwave similar to that used the home -- but on a far larger scale. Although this practice has been available for some time in the United States, Tempco Union is the only company to offer a public microwave facility in the United Kingdom. The unit has been specially designed to temper meat from minus 18 degrees centigrade to between minus 3 and minus 5 degrees centigrade. At this temperature the meat can then be placed directly on the production line at considerable savings in time and expense.

As an example, five 60-pound blocks of boneless beef can be brought to this temperature in four-minutes, whereas traditional methods can take up to four days. This is a logical service to offer in a cold store. It gives customers a new flexibility in production planning and offers the important advantage of a uniform temperature. Thus there are no more "soggy" outsides and frozen centers, no drip loss and therefore no loss in volume. Using microwave technology also removes the need for companies to have expensive space allocated to tempering.

For smaller operators who do not have the space to hold stock and must wait for it to temper for more than four days, microwave tempering allows a daily delivery of ready tempered meat to go straight on the production line. It is another example of "just in time," allowing less stock to be held in the system.
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Title Annotation:Warehousing World; public refrigerated warehouses
Author:Sawbridge, Ron
Publication:Quick Frozen Foods International
Date:Apr 1, 1989
Words:675
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