How mRNA tech blew open the door of UPS’s cold chain logistics business

UPS (UPS) will have doubled its health-care facilities footprint by 2023, as a result of unprecedented demand for mRNA vaccines, and the company is making a long-term bet that demand for cold chain storage in medicine will only grow in coming years.

The logistics giant began building out millions of square feet of space as a result of its partnership with Pfizer (PFE)/ BioNTech (BNTX), according to UPS Healthcare and Life Sciences President Wes Wheeler, but that only sped up a strategy the company was pursuing before the pandemic.

“Health care at UPS was part of its matrix organization. It was not a business unit like it is today. It was not given the kinds of priorities that we’ve been given since I took the role,” Wheeler told Yahoo Finance in a recent interview.

Pandemic aside, the market for health care logistics has been growing in recent years, as more targeted treatments, known as biologics, takes hold.

Cold chain storage, in particular, has become increasingly important as a result, with some projections estimating the market will surpass $225 billion by 2026. UPS is among the top players, and market share only figures to grow as it targets new global hubs.

The company was already on track to expand by roughly 1 million square feet per year, but in the past two years UPS has added about 4 million square feet, Wheeler said.

That will put the company at about 15 million square feet by the end of 2023, compared to about 7.5 million square feet when Wheeler started in…

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