Covid-19 vaccine to help bloodless chain market hop 17% to Rs 1.7 trn in CY21



An increase in demand for bloodless storage solutions from pharma and other segments is expected to help the Indian bloodless chain market to post a 17 per cent growth in 2021 to Rs 1.7 trillion, according to market research firm IMARC Services and products. Along with the demand for bloodless storage to house Covid-19 vaccines, bloodless chain service providers and logistics players are witnessing a surge in demand from pharma and allied industries.

Growth next year comes on the back of robust 16 per cent estimated annual growth over the past five years (2015-2020) with volume growth in the period pegged at 4.4 per cent. By the end of 2020, the bloodless chain market is expected to have a volume capacity of approximately 41 million tonnes.

While the growth this year is expected to come from the rolling out of the Covid-19 vaccines (advance orders), the wider reach of the government immunisation programme and the increasing requirement from online grocery platforms aided the growth of the sector over the previous few years.

Currently, healthcare products account for a share of 3.6 per cent in the overall Indian bloodless chain market, which is expected to grow by two thirds to around 6 per cent by the end of next year, estimates IMARC Services and products.

Ratings and research advisory firm Crisil said the bloodless chain industry is expected to see a growth of 9-11 per cent in FY22 in value. This growth will be led by an optical recovery in segments such as meat and seafood. In addition, pharma segment will continue its growth trajectory aided by Covid-19 vaccine deliveries.

India will require approximately two billion doses to vaccinate a billion people going by the 2-dose regime that is to be followed.

Companies have said that India has created a very good infrastructure to take care of vaccines, which need temperatures between 2-8 degrees and -20 degrees. Since June this year most of the state governments and a few in the private sector have started placing orders with bloodless chain equipment developers.

According to industry sources, India has 225 Walk-In Coolers, 57 Walk-In Freezer, 44,000 Icelined Refrigerators, 38,000 Deep Freezers, 79,000 Bloodless Boxes, 1.4 million vaccine carriers and 700 vans. Around 520 million Universal Immunisation Programmes (UIP) and 1.32 billion non-UIP vaccinations are done yearly.

Blue Star Managing Director B Thiagarajan said states have been adding capacity since July to fill the gaps as required.

Throughout the past three months, the company, which claims 70 per cent market share in pharma and pharmacy segments, has got orders for 320 bloodless rooms, 470 medical refrigerators and 1,200 deep freezers and expects few more tenders to come.

Thiagarajan expects incremental revenue of Rs 100-150 crore whether the vaccination is stored between 2°C and 8°C, and whether it’s going to be -20 degree, he expects incremental revenue of approximately Rs 500 crore in the next 18-24 months.

The other segment which sees good possibility is logistics solution providers, who have begun ramping up capacity to hand out Covid-19 vaccines. According to a Credit Suisse outline, the largest private player – SnowmanLogistics – has a capacity to store 650 million doses. But this assumes that the entire capacity will be used only for vaccine storage. Capacity to be had for vaccine distribution will be only 10-15 per cent of this or approximately 100 million doses for Snowman. TCI Express management said it has entered the bloodless chain segment recently and is in talks with agencies and government for the distribution of Covid vaccines. The company has said it has won contracts from the state governments, without naming the states and said its network will give the company an edge.

The company has 900 branches, 50,000 pick-up and drop points and caters to 720 districts. “Despite the fact that we establish one bloodless box in every of these networks, this can be a great network addition that we will give the government”, said the management in an interview.

For the organised private bloodless chain storage sector, complete vaccine storage capacity would be 250-300 million doses.

Demand for refrigerated vans has also started picking up.

V Seethapathi, vice president, Product Line, I&LCV, Tata Motors, country’s largest CV maker, said all over the pandemic, the overall last-mile delivery segment saw appreciable growth on the back of high demand in the e-commerce sector, which used to be triggered by the pandemic and the lockdown. Demand for intermediate and light commercial vehicle reefer trucks is yet to achieve its true potential post the lockdown, he says.

The reefer truck segment has seen de-growth in H1 FY21 in comparison to the same period final year. But the interest levels in the segment have seen an uptick of approximately 15 per cent all over the past two months. As the nation awaits a concrete plan from the Centre on vaccine distribution, the demand for reefer trucks is expected to increase in Q4.

Reefer trucks will play a immense part in dispatching the vaccine. Transportation of vaccines will require a high level of expertise and reefer trucks must follow set protocols by the pharma industry, to make sure protected delivery across the country. Demand for ultra-cold storage vehicles is expected to rise as hundreds of thousands of vaccine doses at sub-zero temperatures must be transported at a spoke-to-spoke level in addition to last-mile delivery.

The organised sector does not have reach extending to the hinterlands in the country and for those regions, it is likely that the government may utilise existing fruit and vegetable bloodless storage to succeed in the purpose.

Rampraveen Swaminathan, MD & CEO, Mahindra Logistics added, they’re in talks with the company’s commerce partners for scaling up cold-chain requirements. “We are also in the process of talking to more than one pharma companies to evolve a beef up mechanism. Additionally, a strong chain of correct technology infrastructure to beef up the vaccine data is being mapped across the provide chain. We are working with technology partners (inside the Mahindra Group) to evolve a strong platform to beef up the programme,” he said.

There was a stable rise of cold-chain solutions with our consumer clients over time. With an increasing number of clients going the e-commerce way, we have created bespoke temperature-controlled facilities for their customers in the previous few quarters.


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