AGRICULTURE Secretary William D. Dar said the cold storage industry needs to set up operations nearer food production centers to ensure quality produce and minimize spoilage.

In a recent meeting with the Cold Chain Association of the Philippines (CCAP), Mr. Dar asked the industry to establish more cold storage facilities in wholesale trading centers, fishports, slaughterhouses, and fish ports.

He said ensuring the quality of produce and limiting post-harvest losses will help raise farmer incomes and boost the food supply, keeping prices low for all consumers.

“With more cold storage facilities located near major farm production areas, trading centers, livestock slaughterhouses and poultry dressing facilities, fishing grounds and municipal fishports, we will be able to reduce post-harvest losses by at most 35% that could be added up to the national food supply, thus bringing down prices for the benefit of millions of Filipinos,” Mr. Dar said.

“With access to modern refrigeration and storage facilities, farmers and fishers could sell their quality vegetables, meat and marine products at better prices to consumers,” he added.

CCAP president Anthony S. Dizon said that its 130 members store about 450,000 metric tons (MT) of perishables annually. The industry has a fleet of 10,000 refrigerated vehicles and containers.

Mr. Dizon said the cold chain industry expects to grow about 9% annually due to the rising population numbers and a greater share of food purchases from supermarkets and e-commerce platforms.

The Department of Agriculture (DA), through its National Meat and Inspection Service (NMIS), previously partnered with CCAP on the so-called “pork-in-a-box” project which delivered Mindanao pork for sale in Metro Manila. — Revin Mikhael D. Ochave