Cold Storage Market Provides Endless Possibilities
By: Aesha Mehta
The Industrial market has turned from the ugly stepchild of the 4 major food groups into a sought after commodity, especially in the last year. A subcategory of industrial that you might not be that familiar with is Cold Storage. These facilities store perishable products such as fruits, vegetables, meat, or fish under controlled conditions for long periods of time. Cold storage is becoming crucially important because of a need to store the Covid-19 vaccine as well as food distribution via e-commerce that has grown immensely over the last 12 months.
How the Financing Markets are Heating Up to Cold Storage
Consumers are purchasing much more food via e-commerce because it was a very convenient and easily accessible solution during the lockdown. In particular, Amazon Fresh’s sales have grown by allowing customers to purchase and receive deliveries for their groceries and consumer products. The future of cold storage is still untold because it will be more prevalent when more pharmaceutical companies such as Johnson and Johnson, Sanofi, and Bayer come out with approved vaccines with FDA approval along with the current demand of the vaccines from Pfizer and Moderna. With consumer trends shifting to buying more items online, the investors we speak with believe that increasing Cold Storage assets in their portfolio will be inevitable.
The future of cold storage has endless possibilities that will not diminish anytime soon due to the increased food distributions through e-commerce channels. According to David Egan, senior director and global head of research for CBRE, “food in the U.S. is a category worth approximately $2.5 trillion, with grocery sales representing almost $1 trillion of that number. If e-commerce grocery sales grow to 15% penetration, that’s about $150 billion in sales that would shift from an in-store model to an online model. To put that in perspective, all e-commerce in the U.S. is about $500 billion” (NAIOP). Based on these statistics, this showcases how attractive cold storage is becoming in 2021 and where institutional investors will look in the coming years as a major investment for cold storage as an asset class in the industrial real estate sector.
The Changing Landscape of Available Capital
Prior to COVID-19, cold storage was primarily used by grocery store distributors to help facilitate their sales of produce and meats along with a growing demand from e-commerce companies. Jones Lang LaSalle Incorporated (JLL), a global commercial real estate services company, mentions, “In May 2018, Blackstone, one of the most prolific investors in commercial real estate, purchased a 2.3-million-square-foot portfolio of nine industrial properties that were primarily cold storage facilities for $255 million at a 6.25 percent cap rate.” Due to these new changes and demands, lenders and investors are now looking at this niche market as an attractive investment. Lever Capital Partners and their sister firms at the Real Estate Capital Alliance held a virtual MBA in early February. At that event many capital providers talked about lending and investing in Cold Storage for the first time. Once a majority of capital providers sees the Cold Storage space as a critical component of the Industrial segment rather than a niche business, the competitive landscape will increase thereby increasing the competition for available capital.
We’re Here to Guide You!
Lever Capital Partners knows the Cold Storage business and in fact financed their first one back in 2005 in a Boston suburb. We have increased our tracking of available capital due to the occurrences we’ve seen in the last few years and can help guide you through today’s capital availability. Our team of industrial experts will advise on your ability to get financing up and down the capital stack utilizing debt and equity for acquisitions, adaptive reuse, or development. Because we’re a relationship oriented firm, our preference would be to work with established sponsors looking for programmatic capital rather than one-off projects. Please reach out so we can quickly evaluate your project and guide you towards the best available capital!