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Commonwealth Capital in cold chain JV with Japanese F&B distribution giant


INVESTMENT firm Commonwealth Capital - whose food and beverage (F&B) portfolio includes brands such as Pastamania, Swissbake and The Soup Spoon - is teaming up with a Japanese F&B distribution giant for a cold chain logistics joint venture focusing on South-east Asia.

Along with its wholly owned unit Commonwealth Food Services, it has formed joint venture company Commonwealth Kokubu Logistics (CKL) with Japan's Kokubu Group.

CKL will provide end-to-end supply chain solutions to food retailers and food services firms in Singapore and the region. These include all aspects of food supply chain management from pre-production inventory control to temperature-logged warehousing and last mile delivery.

Commonwealth Capital is injecting its existing cold chain business, which had revenue of just under S$40 million last year, into CKL. Its existing clients include major quick service restaurants, fast food groups and independent restaurants and cafes, said Commonwealth Capital chairman Andrew Kwan.

In Singapore, the joint venture will tap Commonwealth Capital's existing cold chain facilities such as a six-storey-high low-temperature automated storage and retrieval system.

With the cold chain business now at 93 per cent capacity, CKL will look at acquiring more sites in Singapore, said Mr Kwan. It is also reviewing potential sites in the region to build a network of food logistics centres, for an unbroken cold chain in Asean.

The partnership taps Kokubu Group's experience in running 279 food logistics centres in Japan, delivering items from 10,000 food manufacturers to 35,000 customers including hotels, restaurants, cafes, supermarkets and convenience stores.

CKL will also leverage Kokubu Group's existing partnerships with e-commerce players in Japan to roll out similar capabilities in Singapore and the rest of South-east Asia.

And to serve the ageing population and special needs groups in Singapore, the joint venture aims to work with local food manufacturers to deliver specialised food and meals to hotels, hospitals, childcare centres, schools and military bases. In this, it will draw on Kokubu Group's alliances in Japan with food technology companies and meal specialists.

For Commonwealth Capital's part, apart from existing route-planning and item consolidation technology, it is exploring the possibility of temperature logs that will let consumers see the "thermal history" of a product and reassure them of its handling.

Cold chain logistics are key not just for freshness, but also food safety, said Mr Kwan: "What we want to do is be able to build a trusted service."