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Progress in the PRW Industry


A few weeks back, I was reading an industry trade article that quoted a longtime public refrigerated warehousing (PRW) veteran about the changes he’s seen in the business since he first got into it many years ago.

The way the fellow described it, PRW was a simple business way back then, “mostly pallet-in, pallet-out.” He then contrasted it to the much more complex and competitive world of PRW today.

Here at Adams Cold Storage (ACS) in Auburndale, we can relate to our PRW colleague to some degree. The Food Safety Modernization Act of 2011 gave the FDA new powers and authorities in the way food is grown, harvested, processed, stored, and distributed. Though business was less complex back in December 2010, when we first opened our warehouse doors and the federal regulatory load was much lighter, it’s never really been “mostly pallet-in, pallet-out” at ACS. Increased and accelerated industry competition had already taken strong root by the time we opened, so we’ve always provided value-added services to meet the needs of food-producing customers increasingly reliant on PRWs to store and move their perishable goods.

By “value-added,” I mean services that go well beyond the foundational and traditional industry model of competently, accurately, and reliably receiving inventory, storing and tracking it, and then helping to ship it. Some of these services are the result of food producers no longer doing some kinds of storage, packaging, and shipping functions themselves. Other added services are the result of findings that PRWs are better equipped and positioned to provide them. Others are the result of regulation. More are simply because they’re the good and right things to do for customers and their customers.

Yes, PRWs have evolved greatly from basic receiving, storage, and shipping points to fully fledged and flexible 3PLs — shorthand for third-party logistical operations — with services ranging from the fundamentals of frozen, refrigerated, and conditioned storage to customer-specific pre-shipment order selection and labeling.

I’ll continue this topic in more detail in next month’s column. Included will be a focus on PRWs as bigger players in the arena of contract warehousing and order fulfillment.

This column is sponsored by Adams Cold Storage, LLC, and the opinions expressed herein may not reflect those of CFAN or of its advertisers. 

Ben Adams, Jr., is an owner and president of Adams Cold Storage, LLC, in Auburndale. He has been directly involved in citrus production, warehousing and distribution, as well as state and community support, since 1980. His facility incorporates some 250,000 square feet of multitemperature warehousing, and is AA rated by BRC-International.