When dawn breaks on the first day of 2020, it will herald a new era for the foodservice industry even if most operators won’t necessarily realise it.
From 1 January next year, the refrigeration sector will see one of the most significant changes that it has for some time as R404A refrigerant gas usage becomes outlawed in new equipment, and largely restricted in existing equipment.
Given that R404A is the most widely-used gas in stationary refrigeration systems in Europe, it is likely to have a significant impact on the industry as a whole, insists Steve Bowler, design and product manager at Electrolux Professional. “This is an important move, given the damaging impact that R404A has on the environment, and forms part of the general trend towards sustainability in the refrigeration industry,” he says.
Electrolux Professional already uses R290 gas across all of its refrigeration models and, as one of the most environmentally-friendly refrigerant gases available, the brand can already demonstrate to multi-site users how it can save them thousands of pounds in energy costs each year.
“The challenge for the year ahead is to replace and upgrade older models that are still using R404A, to minimise both the running costs and environmental footprint,” admits Bowler.
Hoshizaki is another brand that made the switch to natural, low GWP refrigerants many years ago. This means that not only are many Hoshizaki-Gram customers already likely to have models that are compliant to the new legislation, those that don’t at least have the comfort that Hoshizaki already understands the criteria and has models in stock that certainly do.
Simon Frost, managing director of Hoshizaki UK, says that for many operators, the prospect of comprehending and meeting new refrigeration legislation will undoubtedly be one of the biggest challenges they face when purchasing refrigeration units in 2020.
The legislation concerns refrigerants with a Global Warming PotentiaL factor of higher than 2500 becoming prohibited. To put this change into perspective, most refrigeration and freezing installations currently use the refrigerant R404, which has a GWP factor of 3200”
It’s therefore important that the industry understands why new regulations are being enforced. “The legislation concerns refrigerants with a GWP (Global Warming Potential) factor of higher than 2500 becoming prohibited. To put this change into perspective, most refrigeration and freezing installations currently use the refrigerant R404, which has a GWP factor of 3200, making it well above the 2500 mark.”
In many ways, the new rules support a much wider acknowledgement of the need for more environmentally-friendly refrigeration products that has been central to the R&D efforts of numerous brands in the last few years.
“The energy efficiency of refrigeration products will continue to be a big focus for many professional refrigeration manufacturers, as customers expect lower running costs and greener equipment in their kitchens and bars,” predicts Christine Hartshorne, marketing manager at Precision Refrigeration.
And, of course, while the industry is trying to get to grips with new environmental legislation shaped by the European Union, there is the outcome of the UK’s decision to leave the EU to consider.
“The big challenge for 2020, and not just for commercial refrigeration, is going to be for the UK adjusting to a new trading landscape post-Brexit,” says Karl Hodgson, sales director at Adande. “This will undoubtedly impact all of us in some way. While we believe there will be opportunities, we are also working hard to mitigate the risks for our business as we see them, as best we can, until we know more concerning the UK’s new trading relationship with Europe and indeed, beyond.”
In addition, the UK economy is also slowing, which may affect trading conditions here at home, adds Hodgson. “These things will be the biggest challenges. However, apparently as a nation we continue to eat more food prepared commercially, whether eating in a restaurant or having it delivered to our door so we believe that the opportunities that present themselves can be capitalised upon by brands that are lean, efficient and offer a quality product.”
The next 12 months are poised to see some significant developments in the refrigeration sector as manufacturers commit to expanding their portfolios, creating more energy efficient models. For many, it is about building on the platform they have created to offer the kind of innovations in design and sustainability that operators have come to take for granted.
Hoshizaki-Gram, for instance, recently unveiled its market-first glass door storage refrigerator — the Gram Eco Plus KG 140 — after a significant R&D project and it is likely to be a mainstay of its offer going forward.
“We are delighted to be providing operators with a unit that brings together everything that is required from a durable, functional, aesthetic and efficient storage refrigerator,” says Simon Frost. “In fact, so efficient is the ECO Plus KG 140 that it has even been listed in the topten.eu’s famous energy efficiency ranking thanks to a Climate Class 5 classification and a remarkably low energy consumption of just 965 kWh/year. In 2020, Hoshizaki will continue to focus on developing market-leading products and technologies so that our operators can always be ahead of the curve when it comes to refrigeration.”
Adande’s design engineers, meanwhile, have been busy perfecting its new Aircell technology for open fronted, multi deck refrigerated display cabinets. The technology has been labelled a ‘game-changer’ as it offers a new approach to food and energy wastage that very much fits with the global sustainability drive.
“A cleaner, greener world is what we are all aiming for and at Adande we are responding to that call. We will continue to showcase our new technology over the coming months and we have some exciting things planned,” says Karl Hodgson.
Over at Precision, the company’s mission is to continue with its ongoing improvement programme to offer customers refrigeration equipment that is cheaper to run, more energy efficient and uses materials from local suppliers wherever possible.
It recently unveiled a slew of new products, including a cheese maturing cabinet, meat ageing cabinet, wine cabinets and back bar and single-door upright versions of its Retro Refrigeration range. “In 2020, Precision will bring these new products in foodservice outlet fit-outs to the UK and worldwide markets,” said Christine Hartshorne.
Other supplierss with a clear roadmap of new product launches include Taylor UK. It intends to roll out ISA’s new Hi-Zone luxury range of refrigeration cabinets, with lower energy consumption, increased reliability, inverter compressors, EC fans, and five chamber door gaskets.
“With the continued trend of open plan kitchens and theatre-style cooking, the cabinets will be able to be customised, ideal when the kitchen is in full view to the seated guests,” insists David Rees, marketing manager at Taylor UK. The firm will also unveil a customisable modular display cabinet range called ‘Kelly’. “This range will feature cabinets capable of being set up for served or self-service, and can hold snacks, pastry and served gelato,” says Rees.
Features such as energy efficiency and footprint have been key focus areas for refrigeration manufacturers in recent years. Those certainly won’t diminish, but there are other major factors shaping buying decisions.
Adande believes that food wastage is an increasingly critical issue that the best refrigeration can help to address and will become another area of focus.
“Brand owners are more aware of what kind of energy consumption their equipment has,” says Karl Hodgson. “Excessive consumption has a negative impact, affecting both the planet and a business’ bottom line. Unit energy costs will continue to increase. Operators will begin to focus more on the impact of refrigeration performance on food wastage and their business.”
Hoshizaki remains committed to “banging the drum” around sustainability in 2020 in a bid to reinforce the energy efficiency message. “With the green mantra being at the very heart of our business, all new R&D is focused around delivering more efficient, more sustainable equipment,” says Simon Frost. “As such, all new ice machines and refrigeration appliances that we bring to market will be of an efficient, sustainable operation.”
Foodservice operators will begin to focus more on the impact of refrigeration performance on food wastage and their business”
Precision launched its first A+ energy rated fridge earlier this year, and continues to update its energy ratings on as many of its products as possible. Carbon footprint and energy efficiency will therefore remain a focus for the business in 2020. “We acknowledge the importance of running costs to customers, and our commitment is to continually improve these,” insists Christine Hartshorne.
With new legislation on the horizon, and manufacturers constantly striving to improve the efficiency of their products, the future certainly looks green for any operators seeking commercial refrigeration.
True Refrigeration sees more customer conversations being led by sustainability
For several years now, True Refrigeration’s development focus has been on its ‘natural refrigerant’ initiative, which has seen the vast majority of its expansive product range redeveloped with environmentally-friendly and energy efficient R290 systems.
This has been a significant investment for the company but, as a result, True now produces several of the most energy efficient commercial refrigeration products currently available on the market.
“The calibre of operators we supply are serious about sustainability, including energy management programmes to reduce wastage across their estates,” explains sales and key account director Scott Jones.
“Our conversations with customers are now typically led by how we can help them achieve targets to reduce energy consumption and save money, as well as supplying a better, more reliable refrigeration product.”
He says that True’s offering is aimed at energy- and environment-conscious operators which understand that refrigeration equipment is a core investment of their business, and are serious about food safety and quality.
“We know that isn’t everyone, but this position does resonate particularly well with multi-site operators,” he adds.
Williams draws up flexible refrigeration solution with new addition to range
Williams has delivered a major new addition to its Chef’s Drawer range in the form of a variable temperature model that can be switched from a refrigerator to a freezer. It features an entirely new body which, because it ventilates through the front, can squeeze into the tightest of spaces.
The concept behind the Chef’s Drawer is to bring robust, practical refrigerated storage right to the cook face. The individual refrigerated drawer is made of stainless steel throughout and can cope with ambients as high as 43°C — making it ideal for busy commercial kitchens.
The VWCD1 model is just 670mm deep thanks to its refrigeration system being mounted to the side, as opposed to the rear. It can fit beside or under a standard 700mm work surface, leaving 30mm at the back to make it easy to plug in to a 13 amp supply.
“The latest Chef’s Drawer is a really versatile piece of refrigeration,” says Malcolm Harling, sales and marketing director at Williams. “It ticks the boxes for making the most of available kitchen space, for sustainability and for multi-functionality. The ability to switch from fridge to freezer will be a big plus for many sites — it will help cope with seasonal menu changes, the need for extra chilled or frozen storage for events, and so on,” he adds.