The Chill Factor – Cold Chain and our Food System

In recent years, the Nigerian food industry has improved in efficiency and sustainability. One factor that has significantly contributed to this growth is none other than the ‘chill factor’ – cold chain infrastructure. It has not only contributed to solving challenges related to food preservation but has also impacted supply chains, reducing waste and ensuring a more stable market.

The Nigerian food industry faces substantial hurdles in maintaining the freshness of perishable goods. With a predominantly agricultural economy, farmers often struggle to preserve their harvests, leading to significant post-harvest losses. This not only affects the livelihoods of farmers but also contributes to food scarcity and price volatility.


With cold storage facilities, farmers, distributors, and retailers can now store produce in controlled environments, preserving freshness and extending the shelf life of products. This will increase the availability of a diverse range of food items and allow for better market planning and distribution.

The impact of cold chain on reducing food waste is substantial. With perishable goods kept under controlled temperatures in storage and transit, the likelihood of spoilage is minimal. This waste reduction will benefit the economy and align with global sustainability goals to curb food wastage.

Cold storage also plays a crucial role in improving the quality and safety standards of food products in Nigeria. By maintaining the required temperature and humidity levels, these facilities prevent the growth of harmful microorganisms that can compromise food safety. That will ensure food stays fresh from farm to plate.

Despite all the advantages cold chain infrastructure has to offer, it’s essential to note it is still in its early stages. Every year, Nigeria suffers $9 billion in loss due to food wastage caused by improper storage methods. Farmers in communities without access to cold storage facilities lose a bulk of their harvest to spoilage, forcing them to sell whatever is left at low prices. There is also a low level of investment in infrastructure due to lack of sustainable, constant electricity in some areas, especially rural farming communities.

One of the few innovative programs aiming to solve the problem of food waste and sustainable energy is the Energising Agriculture Program (EAP). The EAP, co-led by the Rural Electrification Agency (REA) and the Rocky Mountain Institute (RMI) with support from the Global Energy Alliance for People and Planet (GEAPP), aims to improve rural livelihoods by leveraging energy access to boost agricultural productivity.

By collaborating with Nigerian cleantech companies, such as solar mini-grid developers and cold chain infrastructure providers like Ecotutu, Coldhubs, Farm Warehouse, Coldbox store and Koolboks, 7 cold storage project sites have been set up across 3 different states and the Federal Capital Territory, providing cooling solutions to rural farming communities in Plateau, Nasarawa, Abuja and Akwa Ibom state. Five of these projects have been deployed successfully, with one currently in progress and the other is still in the planning phase. However, there is still work to be done.


The current reach of cold chain is not uniform across the nation, as only 4% of the required cold chain infrastructure is available in Nigeria. This leaves a whopping 96% gap that needs to be filled considerably before the benefits of cold storage can be maximised. 

There is a need for increased awareness regarding the benefits of cold storage facilities as many farmers and small-scale businesses are not fully aware of the positive impact of cold storage practices on their operations. More strategic planning and investment in cold chain facilities powered by renewable energy are needed to ensure broader accessibility. 

 Addressing these challenges is essential for the success and widespread adoption of cold chain infrastructure in Nigeria. With proper planning, investment and expansion, cold chain solutions have the potential to evolve from a promising initiative into a cornerstone of the Nigerian food industry, driving sustainable growth and reducing food insecurity.

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