Entering 2023, the global reefer market was hopeful. The massive price increases and cold chain disruption of the 2020-2021 COVID years was in the rearview mirror, and agricultural growers and the market at large widely believed that a normalization was in order. But as 2023 winds down, it’s increasingly clear that those hopes are being dashed. Nothing approaching normalization is occurring in the reefer market. Subdued reefer volumes in 2023 clearly show a market still in crisis. For decades, global economic and population growth corresponded to growth in international trade in food, whether fruits, meat, or seafood products. The growth was constant and predictable, providing a basis for billions of dollars in investment in reefer plugs, containers, and cold storage. That pattern has been disrupted since 2020, when COVID-related port disruption upended reefer supply chains. Now the issue is extreme weather events, which are increasingly disrupting growing patterns, resulting in scenarios where demand is there but supply doesn’t exist or is highly curtailed. “No one can tell you when the next global weather incident will happen or what the impact will be,” said Thomas Eskesen, head of cold chain consultant Eskesen Advisory and Journal of Commerce partner in developing TPM Cold Chain. This session, the kickoff to the new TPM Cold Chain event within TPM24, will analyze the state of the reefer market, the outlook for 2024, and when shippers and service providers can truly expect a return to stability and predictability – if ever.