Skip to main content

New study finds food retailers see value in natural refrigerants and accelerate their investment in the technology


New study finds food retailers see value in natural refrigerants and accelerate their investment in the technology
  • Refrigeration emerges as number one priority in terms of increasing a stores’ energy efficiency. 
  • Food retailers agree natural refrigerants now outperform hydrofluorocarbon (HFC) refrigerants in terms of efficiency. Reliability and safety on par with conventional HFC systems.
  • 51% would shorten investment cycles to expedite investment in natural refrigerant technology.
Natural refrigerant adoption among food retailers in Western and Northern Europe has increased to the point where three in five (63.6%) have implemented the technology in store, according to a new study released by market development experts shecco in partnership with Carrier at the EuroShop retail trade fair in Düsseldorf. Carrier, the world’s leader in high-technology heating, air-conditioning and refrigeration solutions, is part of UTC Building & Industrial Systems, a unit of United Technologies Corp. (NYSE: UTX).

The study of predominantly large food retailers in Germany, France, U.K., Denmark and Norway found all respondents were familiar with restrictions on F-gas use and had already, or would soon, implement appropriate strategies. At the same time, respondents indicated the selection of technologies is increasingly influenced by the belief that carbon footprint reduction is linked to their overall business success. 71 percent of respondents stated policies have been initiated at the highest levels of their organizations to drive carbon footprint reduction through refrigeration with the use of energy-efficient and low-Global Warming Potential refrigerants being identified as the most important environmental feature to increase a store’s energy efficiency. The respondents ranked refrigeration above lighting, overall energy management (including waste heat recovery), and fleet management in terms of environmental energy efficiency importance.

“While legislation can be a key driver in accelerating the pace of deployment of sustainability activities by retailers, more and more food retailers are proactively seeking new substances and technologies to align with their companies’ sustainability agendas, promising direct and indirect business value,” said Nina Masson, head of Market Research, shecco. “Those who are taking a lead in the adoption of natural refrigerants have anticipated this change in legisslation and have created a situation where, independent of the future level of restriction of fluorinated gases at the national or European Union level, their business case is secured.”

Natural refrigerant solutions rated as more desirable than HFC systems in the eyes of food retailers; with energy efficiency and performance being critical decision drivers. Respondents also saw legislation as an important driver in the decision-making process governing the purchase of new refrigeration technology.

Respondents placed natural refrigerants on par with HFC systems in terms of reliability and safety, which rated as the most important factors influencing the purchase of new refrigeration technology. Natural refrigerants were also considered to be on parity in terms of return on investment (ROI) and life-cycle costs.

“This research reflects the shift we’ve observed across the industry over the past two years,” said Thierry Jomard, president, Carrier Commercial Refrigeration, Europe. “What we’re seeing today is an intersection point between legislation on one side, and on the other side, increased acceptance of how natural refrigerant technologies can contribute towards the overarching goals of carbon footprint reduction and increased energy efficiency.”

The study also revealed a majority (51.7%) of respondents would be willing to shorten their investment cycles to promote the uptake of more environmentally-sustainable refrigeration technology. Moreover, nearly half of these respondents were willing to shorten investment cycles by more than two years to acquire the natural refrigerant technology.

“Retailers increasingly recognize natural refrigerants represent a future-proof investment in terms of legislative compliance,” Jomard said. “We’re seeing evidence now of early adopters looking even further ahead towards more holistic thinking about combining heating and cooling, using integrated system solutions to optimise overall energy management.”

According to the study, the move towards holistic energy management has been particularly pronounced in Northern Europe where respondents now attach equal importance to overall energy management systems and refrigeration as potential investments to improve a store’s overall energy efficiency. Carrier has seen a similar trend with the adoption of its CO2OLtec® integrated system, which uses the natural refrigerant CO₂ to provide a fully integrated approach for the in-store refrigeration, space heating and cooling, and ventilation needs. The technology offers measurable gains in increasing energy efficiency, cutting a store’s carbon footprint in half and delivering up to 30 percent savings on energy costs.

As the world leader in high-technology heating, air-conditioning and refrigeration solutions, Carrier has been a pioneer in terms of sustainable refrigeration. Carrier introduced its CO₂OLtec natural refrigeration system in 2004, ten years before the European Union is about to table its revised F-gas regulation to significantly reduce the use of HFCs. To date, Carrier has installed more than 800 pure CO₂-based systems across Europe. Carrier has the right refrigerant solution for every application, but not every refrigerant is suitable for every application.

About Carrier
Carrier is the world’s leader in high-technology heating, air-conditioning and refrigeration solutions. Carrier experts provide sustainable solutions, integrating energy efficient products, building controls, and energy services for residential, commercial, retail, transport and food service customers. Founded by the inventor of modern air conditioning, Carrier improves the world around us through engineered innovation and environmental stewardship. Carrier is part of UTC Building & Industrial Systems, a unit of United Technologies Corp., a leading provider to the aerospace and building systems industries worldwide. Visit for more information or follow the company on Twitter: @CarrierGreen.

About shecco
For more than a decade market development expert shecco has been active in helping bring climate friendly technologies faster to market. shecco supports over 100+ partners worldwide in two areas: the HVAC&R sector, where the focus is on sustainable refrigeration, heating & cooling technologies using natural refrigerants; and the transport sectors where an emphasis is put on electric vehicles. shecco offers a variety of services, ranging from world-leading online industry platforms, to market research & consultancy services, events management, funding & grants support, and public affairs.

About the research
The findings are drawn from quantitative and qualitative research conducted by shecco among food retailers located in Western and Northern Europe, with a focus on Germany, France, the UK, Denmark, and Norway. The research project, of which the current data represents essential findings, began on 10th January and is scheduled to close on 21st February. In terms of respondents, the project captured opinions from individuals predominantly at the operational management level, including department heads, supervisors and team leaders. From a total of 48 initial responses, valid results taken into account for the initial presentation of findings include 33 responses. A fifth of respondents represented the strategic management level, including CEOs, owners and board members.  Two-thirds of respondents represented food retailers part of a larger enterprise group.