Industry keen to avert refrigeration stand-off

Electrolux Ecostore refrigeration

Catering equipment buyers are being advised that there is no advantage to be gained from delaying refrigeration purchases until new EU minimum energy performance regulations are imposed next year.

As things stand, it will become mandatory for commercial refrigeration manufacturers to display energy labels on their products from 1 July 2016.

Initial products covered by the legislation include professional refrigerated storage cabinets, such as upright cabinets and open-fronted merchandisers, while any kit that doesn’t meet the energy standards threshold will be excluded for sale within the EU market.

The looming arrival of the new regulations has led to suggestions that operators planning large-scale refrigeration purchases might be better off postponing any major decisions until the legislation is in place.

However, experts claim there is little to be gained from doing that at this stage.

“If buyers have immediate requirements they should go ahead with those decisions,” insists Chris Playford, market and development director at Foster Refrigerator. “There is still 15 months before the legislation comes into force. Buyers should not put food safety at risk and wait. Many products available on the market are already advanced in energy consumption, so any incremental benefits will be relatively minor.”

Sneha Mashru, category manager for refrigeration at Electrolux, noted that many of the top brands are already offering extremely efficient refrigeration equipment anyway, with the government’s Energy Technology List providing a guide to the greenest kit on the market.

“While we certainly don’t think that anyone should hold off from purchasing a refrigerator, it is always advisable to look at the energy performance so that utility costs and CO2 emissions stay low. For those who are in urgent need of new equipment, the Energy Technology List can provide an indicator of which products are already achieving high levels of efficiency,” she said.

There are concerns among some buyers that they could be penalised for equipment they buy now when the new legislation comes into force. However, Malcolm Harling, sales and marketing director at Williams Refrigeration, said that won’t be the case.

“Legislation will dictate that all new products sold will require labelling i.e. those products already in the market will not be expected to be back-tested or labelled. As a manufacturer, Williams is giving careful consideration to ensure the replacement market is not affected by size, shape or operation and that we consider all our customers’ future needs.”

Glenn Roberts, managing director of Gram, urged buyers to remain in touch with their refrigeration partners in the lead-up to the introduction of the EU regulations to ensure they understand the implications for their own businesses.

“As always, seeking the best professional advice is advisable to those looking to make a significant investment in refrigeration. It is important that moving forward that procurement professionals are fully informed of the changes and are clear on their energy efficiency focus.”

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