With an overwhelming 58,000 industry experts attending, the annual National Restaurant Association (NRA) trade show is the place for restaurant owners and consumer goods brands to go. Despite some indication of a more rapid market acceptance driven by big end-users’ environmental stewardship, exhibitors pointed out key issues in relation to building codes, standards, training, and refrigerant charge limitations that need to be resolved first to make the US food & drink industry adopt t
From 5 to 8 May 2012, Chicago became America’s No 1 food place to bring together 1,800 exhibitors for restaurant equipment, food, beverages and technology for keeping foodstuff cool. Among the solutions on display only a limited number of companies were openly advertising for HFC-free solutions, with traditional R134a and R404A coolers largely dominating. This does not come as a surprise as hydrocarbons (HCs) have only been approved recently in small and a very limited number of applications. However, driven by global environmental stewardship of consumer goods brands and fast food restaurants, R290 is currently looked at in various R&D departments of leading refrigeration suppliers, suggesting a soon-to-come appearance on American show floors.
What is needed to make HC happen?
Food chains such as Starbucks, McDonald’s, KFC, Taco Bell and Burger King are looking into more sustainable refrigerant solutions for their restaurants together with America’s leading suppliers of dispensers and freezers. The market for HFC-free bottle coolers and vending machines is otherwise mainly driven by large consumer brands such as PepsiCo, Heineken or Unilever. However, despite action taken by some market leaders, chances of early success for R290 are dependent on a variety of factors, as exhibitors at the NRA confirm: