The first half of 2016 has been a turbulent time for British business, with the public voting to leave the EU, and UK politics devolving into turmoil. With the vote behind us, the refrigeration industry now needs to look forward to the rest of 2016 and beyond to identify the trends that are unfolding, and plan how to make the most of them.
The global recruitment market is predicted to grow
Market research forecasts growth of almost $20million in the global refrigeration market, with 2015’s valuation of $37million expected to rise to over $55million by 2022. The same research also identifies a continued rise in the Asia-Pacific, Latin America and emerging Middle East markets, with the European market remaining healthy and mature.
The size of your business will affect what you can bring to the global market. There are opportunities for big business to sell in bulk to supermarket and hypermarket chains, but for the majority of sellers the real opportunities lie in being flexible enough to meet a variety of consumer needs, including making bespoke products where necessary. The need for flexibility is a common consequence of 2016’s trends, and being able to offer the right products to the right customers is a big part of that.
Continued demand for energy efficient products
One trend that has existed for a number of years, and continues to be important, is the demand for energy efficient products. This is particularly relevant in the latter half of 2016, as the Brexit vote has caused British energy prices to rise. If people were looking to save money on energy before, they have even more reason to do so now.
There have already been innovations in this area, with modular fridges allowing different items to be kept at the specific temperatures, and fridges that are made with higher quality materials to reduce energy loss. The challenge for refrigeration businesses now is to consider what makes their products stand out from the energy-efficient crowd. For the time being, UK products use EU Energy Saving labels to tell customers how energy-efficient different products are, and as long as those remain in use, they will incentivise businesses to provide the highest scoring products possible.
The impact of Brexit
It is impossible to ignore the effects that the Brexit vote could have on the refrigeration industry; there are aspects beyond rising energy costs to be aware of. If your business is flexible, you might find that it benefits from the vote and its consequences.
It is important to remember that while trade opportunities with the EU may change over the next couple of years, Britain still has free access at the moment. It is also worth remembering that trade with countries outside the EU should remain unaffected. The current opportunity weakness of the pound, making exports cheaper and allowing you to increase your profit margins without making your products more expensive. It is unclear how long the pound will stay weak for, but if you can make the most of the present opportunity your business could really benefit. Staying abreast of global economic changes is essential in the current climate.
‘Smart fridges’ and the Internet of Things (IoT)
The IoT has been spoken about since the 1990s, but 2016 has seen the release of several new ‘smart fridges’. These products have already been released to consumers, and are currently high-end only. The flashiest example is the new Samsung Family Hub with a retail price of around $5000. The Family Hub includes a touchscreen on one door, with access to fridge controls and apps. The Hub’s reception so far has been lukewarm at best.
There are other smart fridges around, but there is yet to be anything that makes a meaningful impact on the commercial market. However, advances in this area are such that a commercial breakthrough is likely either this year or in the next couple, and those of us in the industry need to be able to evaluate the viability of any future products. The IoT may well be the future of the refrigeration industry, but until we see a commercially viable product we should treat the field with caution.