The refrigeration sector is an ever-evolving beast, so keeping abreast of wider market trends can help make the buying process easier. Significant innovation has taken place over recent years and the next 12 months will bring further developments, writes Ross McAllister of Fridgeland.
From new compressor protection controls and advances in digital compressors to reconfigured space to meet changing eating habits, the refrigeration industry is constantly innovating to meet the needs of changing consumer and economic demands. Here are some trends set to impact the commercial refrigeration industry in 2015.
Continued evolution of refrigeration equipment to meet food consumption trends
Demand for commercial refrigeration equipment for the food and beverage industry has grown significantly, driven by a general increase of people dining out and the ongoing expansion of retail chains across the UK and Europe. In 2015, we’re seeing commercial refrigeration products continuing to evolve to meet the demands of these changing food consumption trends such as the increase in consumers dining out.
This year, the food industry is preparing for a massive growth in seafood exports worldwide and a reduction overall in meat consumption as meat’s general sustainability and environmental impacts continue to come under fire in America and Europe. We’ll see commercial refrigeration products being required to handle more seafood and produce than before.
Modular commercial refrigeration to support changing spaces
While traditional island suites are the workhorse of commercial kitchens around the world, they are not very versatile. As food concepts change and kitchen staff turnover continues, new needs arise. For this reason, modular kit, including commercial refrigeration products, is going to become increasingly commonplace in commercial kitchens this year. We are beginning to see the introduction of more kitchen designs featuring two sinks in separate, dual work zones, with the refrigerator located between the two.
Continued advances in energy efficiency
New, innovative air flow management systems are being introduced in commercial refrigeration. These feature open-front design and multideck display cabinets, which reduce overall energy consumption, improve temperature stability and allow for appealing merchandising for consumer-facing products.
With refrigeration costs running somewhere around 13% to 18% of total operational expenses for most commercial food-related businesses, saving money and energy will remain a top priority. We’ll continue to see innovation in commercial refrigeration driven by consumer markets and demands in 2015 and beyond.
Asia Pacific beginning to pass Europe as leading commercial refrigeration market
Europe is the largest commercial refrigeration equipment market, followed by Asia Pacific and North America. However, with strong growth forecasted for the future, Asia Pacific is expected to become the largest market by 2020.
As a result, major manufacturers of commercial refrigeration products will begin to focus on meeting the demands of this important market moving forward. Trends driving product development in the Asia Pacific market include the ETS Carbon Tax and demand for overall energy efficiency.
What to look for in a commercial refrigeration unit
Commercial refrigeration is a significant purchase for any food business. Warranty, dimensions and condenser unit location should be three of the main considerations for any buyer.
1) Do the dimensions meet your space and configuration needs?
Give some serious thought to your kitchen space and necessary configuration before you purchase a commercial refrigeration unit. Ideally, a two door commercial refrigerator is your best option for a real workhorse in the kitchen. Units on casters are also efficient, as you can stay nimble by moving the unit around.
Be sure to measure your space before shopping, so you have exact measurements of the space with which you have to work. A one-section, standard commercial refrigeration unit is typically 20 to 30 cubic feet and 20 to 30 inches wide. In general, you want to purchase the smallest possible unit for your space. The larger the unit, the more the initial cost, as well as the expenses you face due to energy loss. However, you certainly don’t want to restrict your kitchen’s possible output and limit the storage space available by purchasing a unit that is too small. Give careful consideration to size.
2) Does the refrigerator have a good warranty?
What if something goes wrong with your refrigeration unit? All of your ingredients and supplies that you have invested in will spoil, and this could be extremely detrimental to your business. Before you buy, check whether there is warranty and maintenance with the machines.
Be sure to look for one of the best warranties in commercial refrigeration. While a one-year warranty and spare parts for six months is common, three years bumper to bumper and five years compressor warranty are outstanding. Most likely you’ll end up somewhere in between. Selecting a refrigeration unit with a good warranty will ensure you will be able to keep your business running should something go wrong.
3) Where is the condensing unit located?
Most commercial refrigeration units have self-contained refrigeration systems, which means the entire system, from condenser to evaporator, is built into the cabinet. This set-up is convenient and suitable for most food businesses and tends to operate with few problems. However, in some cases the condensing unit is located remotely. This set-up may be necessary for kitchens with limited ventilation or that tend to get very hot.
With remote refrigeration, there is an involved process to setting up the cooling system that, if not performed properly, can make the unit fail. So unless your kitchen requires a remotely-located condensing unit, it is best to purchase a self-contained refrigeration system. While of course there are other considerations to keep in mind, these are the most important to ensure your business makes the best decision when purchasing refrigeration.
Ross McAllister is Director of catering and food technology sales company Fridgeland, which has 18 years’ experience providing catering supplies to the UK and Ireland. www.fridgeland.co.uk