Cold Chain Opportunities and Challenges for Developing Countries

September 1, 2020

Cold Chain Opportunities and Challenges for Developing Countries

Authors: QProducts & Services Digital Team, Under the Direction of Paul Yadron, Sr. VP of Sales


The cold chain, or the temperature-controlled supply chain, is essential to many industries. For successful transportation or post-harvest in any industry, the cold chain is a necessity. In developing worlds or third world countries specifically, major developments have been observed while some major challenges still exist.



The Growth of the Cold Chain in Developing Countries


The growth of the cold chain capacity in developing regions varies from country to country. According to Semantic Scholar, world total cold chain capacity in the last decade has increased. In the developing world, it more than doubled in India, increased 66 percent in Brazil, and 20 percent in China. In most developing countries such as South Africa, Mexico, and Kenya, the cold chain is concentrated in the urban centers and transport terminals, such as airports.


rural road in developing country


Maintaining a Secure Cold Chain for Life-Saving Pharmaceuticals


At QProducts and Services, we understand that there are many obstacles to delivering consumer goods, medicines, food, and other necessities to developing regions of the world. To overcome these obstacles, it takes a combination of supply chain expertise, creativity, and understanding of the culture.


For instance, the World Federation of Hemophilia (WFH) has expanded its reach globally into more than 70 countries, and the challenge of safely delivering critical medication to patients in remote regions of the world presents a host of challenges.


In underdeveloped areas with poor infrastructure, primitive airports, and little regulation, the responsibility falls on the WFH to maintain a secure cold supply chain and to meet the criteria of its donor companies. This includes the stability guidelines that come with the medicine they are providing for distribution to patients often found in some of the hottest regions of the world.


Keeping these life-saving pharmaceutical drugs within allowable temperature ranges as dictated by stability studies from each manufacturer is the greatest risk to the integrity and safety of the donated medicine. The most cost-effective way to secure compliance continues to be their use of PalletQuilt®, a form of passive temperature protection. PalletQuilt® enables WFH to ship these 2-8°C pharmaceuticals to locations such as Sub-Saharan Africa, South America, and South East Asia without conventional temperature control and without compromising the safety and integrity of both the medicine itself and the patients who rely on it.


QProducts and Services’ PalletQuilt® solution offers the reflective radiant barrier and robust insulation needed to stand up to the harsh conditions and keep the donated drugs safe. Georgios Ampartzidis, WFH Logistics Manager states, “By using PalletQuilts for the past year to donate and ship pharmaceutical products to more than 70 countries, we completely avoided temperature deviations that would risk the integrity and safety of the donated products.”



Increasing Cold Chain Reach to Developing Countries with Drone Delivery


Drones that deliver blood and medical supplies are saving lives as they provide faster, efficient care by transporting and supplying medicine, pharmaceuticals, vaccines, and emergency medical equipment in rural areas.


Zipline International, a health-tech drone delivery company, recently announced it has officially expanded its operations to Ghana, making it the world’s largest autonomous medical drone delivery service.


According to Biopharma-Reporter, drones can deliver cold chain medicines and vaccines to hard-to-reach areas by tapping into real-time data analysis. The potential for unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) or drones to complete cold chain delivery was tested during a pilot program in 2019. The trials were conducted fully autonomously with cold chain delivery technology, enabling the temperature control of medicines and vaccines at temperatures as low as -70°C. The drone flew over open water between the Bahamian Islands, and testing will continue in Africa and Latin America.


The data collected during the successful flights has shown everybody involved, the power of IoT (internet of things) to provide full visibility of the cold chain, even in the most extreme environments while using innovative transportation modes,” stated Richard Wood, Director of Digital Connected Technologies at Softbox, the company that created the temperature-controlled payload box for the pilot program.


At QProducts and Services, we believe in controlling digitization, and not allowing it to control you. Drone delivery is certainly a major innovation of the next decade, although there are still some hurdles to widespread adoption. During our September webinar, we’ll dive into the details regarding drone delivery as part of the supply chain.


drone delivery

Cold Chain Challenges in Developing Countries


Major efforts are still needed to improve the cold chain in developing regions of the world.

For drone delivery specifically, regulatory issues, technical complexities, and privacy concerns remain barriers to widespread adoption. Also, the viability of the technology in these real-world applications depends on various factors, including the different regulatory challenges present around different regions of the world.


Furthermore, in regard to the food cold chain, most farmers lack pre-cooling, cold storage, and ripening facilities in rural areas of developing countries. Most developing countries also lack well-developed third-party logistics (3PL) for cold chain facilities or transport services.


qproducts drone delivery

Final Thoughts


Now more than ever, the world needs a reliable and efficient cold chain. Solutions to protect temperature-sensitive shipments such as vaccines will continue to be critical in the development and distribution stages.


Many developing countries continue to face a severe lack in cold chain infrastructure and logistics necessary to supply safe products to consumers. However, there are also many opportunities to overcome these challenges such as drone delivery and


At QProducts and Services, we believe in leveraging our supply chain expertise and creativity to continue to learn and develop solutions for the cold chain in developing countries.