Monday, January 30, 2023
HomeDairyBehind Unilever’s energy-saving plan to heat up its ice cream freezers

Behind Unilever’s energy-saving plan to heat up its ice cream freezers


Journalists visiting its world R&D centre at Colworth Science Park within the UK, dubbed the ‘religious residence of ice cream’, heard that ice cream contributes to twenty% of Unilever’s GHG emissions. Roughly half of that comes from its close to three million ice cream cupboards, which it leases out to sellers worldwide.

The FMCG large has a dedication to be web zero throughout its worth chain by 2039. It has due to this fact hatched a plan to roll out vitality saving freezer cupboards. It has launched two trials – one which has already led to Germany; with a second pilot to comply with in Indonesia subsequent 12 months, with an goal of lowering vitality use and greenhouse fuel emissions by round 20-30% per freezer.

With a present {industry} normal in lots of markets of -18°C, Unilever’s ambition is to maneuver the temperature of its retail gross sales freezers to -12°C to enhance vitality effectivity and cut back greenhouse fuel emissions, in a transfer which it hopes will drive industry-wide change.

These trials, it defined, are step one in exploring and understanding the product efficiency of Unilever’s ice cream and the vitality consumption of freezers at hotter -12°C temperatures, in actual life situations. As soon as within the chilly chain, Unilever’s freezers are likely to final over 10 years. It’s hoped the hotter fridges will last more.

Unilever Ice Cream Chief R&D Officer Andrew Sztehlo mentioned the corporate has been working for shut to twenty years on plenty of angles to make its freezers extra vitality environment friendly. “The very first thing we began in 2008 was altering from non-greenhouse fuel pleasant fridges to hydrocarbons. Now 90% of our cupboards out there are higher refrigerants and we purchase new cupboards yearly. On the similar time, we have additionally been engaged on designing these cupboards to make them in order that they use much less vitality. They now use over 40% much less vitality than 2008. Within the final 3-4 years we have been engaged on warming our merchandise up.”

Matt Shut, President Ice Cream, Unilever mentioned: “These pilots will present useful data on how a lot vitality we are able to save and the way our ice cream merchandise carry out in hotter freezers to make sure we ship the identical great-tasting ice cream. We’re actively in search of to collaborate with companions from throughout the ice cream and frozen meals sectors to drive industry-wide change, so the collective optimistic affect is way larger.”

Ice lotions want redeveloping to bear the hotter fridges

However there’s a catch. To make sure the identical ice cream high quality and shopper expertise, merchandise must be reformulated to resist larger temperatures.

“We have been engaged on the microstructure and the matrix to get higher constructions at hotter temperatures in order that we are able to carry this plan collectively and in the end end in much less vitality,”​ revealed Sztehlo.

The market trial in Germany yelled an vitality discount of 24%. “The product nonetheless bought,” ​he mentioned. “The standard was nonetheless there.”

The corporate may even want others to do the identical, if, say, a retailer shares non-Unilever ice lotions in a more moderen -12°C fridge.

It’s hoped that different ice cream producers will comply with its reformulation efforts.

“We might wish to work in partnership with the {industry},”​ mentioned Shut. “We’re actually open to how we try this collectively slightly than it being Unilever-specific… however it’s early days.”

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Unilever needs to maneuver the temperature of its retail gross sales freezers to -12°C to enhance vitality effectivity and cut back greenhouse fuel emissions

Rising shopper curiosity in sustainability has already led to Unilever’s vegan ice cream vary which now makes up greater than 10% of its gross sales. It has additionally been experimenting with regenerative agricultural practices to restrict the environmental affect of its dairy herd.

Initiatives embody introducing progressive feed components to scale back the era of methane as cows digest their meals and placing manure by digesters and separators to scale back methane emissions and create assets resembling vitality and fertilizer.

The energy-saving freezer plan has been lengthy within the making. However Shut added it’s a well timed initiative that may ring a bell with each Unilever’s retail purchasers and finish shoppers.

We have accomplished plenty of work and we all know precisely what’s the precise declare from a shopper attractiveness perspective from a decrease vitality cupboard,” ​he mentioned. “Persons are actually anxious about vitality utilization and our retailers are too. Our store keepers are anxious about turning the cupboards on. We like them to show the cupboards on early within the season and the alerts they’re sending us in the meanwhile are that they’re anxious concerning the worth of vitality.”

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