Increasing demand for fresh food in supermarkets is driving interest in refrigerated warehouses.MORE than half a billion dollars’ worth of refrigerated warehouses are on the market as the demand for fresh food among such supermarket chains as Coles, Woolworths and Metcash attracts new entrants to the sector.

JLL Australian head of industrial Michael Fenton said it shows the refrigerated logistics centre is becoming a genuine asset class. “It is coming up as a core sub-sector of the market,” Mr Fenton said. “Investors are now seeing refrigerated logistics and distribution investments as a way to efficiently deploy more capital and grow the scale of their portfolios rapidly.”

As revealed by The Australian Financial Review, Goodman Group and Brickworks have put up for sale, through JLL and Colliers International, a $250 million-plus, 50,000-square-metre chilled distribution centre at Sydney’s Eastern Creek.

Separately, family-owned cold storage company Oxford Cold Storage has appointed CBRE to sell its 24-hectare Laverton North estate in Victoria, also tipped to fetch about $250 million.

Analysis by JLL Research shows that of the 94 refrigerated logistics and distribution facilities identified in major capital cities, 27 of the largest are occupied by Coles, Woolworths or Metcash. A further 29 are occupied by Americold or Swire Cold Storage – two of the groups responsible for major contracts to Coles and Woolworths for meat, dairy and other products.

JLL director of national industrial research Nick Crothers said the refrigerated logistics and distribution segment is estimated to account for nearly 18 per cent of warehouse industry revenue in 2014-15, making it an $859 million dollar industry.

“Food and beverages imports in customs value has experienced remarkable growth in recent years, increasing 8.7 per cent per year in the three years to November 2014,” he said.

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