Nomad Foods cuts Emissions for Frozen Food Supply Chain

By Kitty Wheeler
Nomad Foods findings could change the frozen food industry's approach to cold storage, as the research opens up possibilities for substantial energy savings and carbon emission reductions across the frozen food supply chain
Nomad Foods pioneers climate action as the first food manufacturer to join COP28's 'Move to -15°C' coalition to slash carbon emissions across cold chain

After an 18 month pilot study with renowned food science experts, Camden BRI, Nomad Foods, the largest frozen food company in Europe, reveals results that reduce freezer energy, without any noticeable impact on the nutritional value, safety, texture and taste of products.

The frozen food sector has faced a myriad of challenges in recent years, from soaring energy prices for cold storage and transportation, to increasing sustainability demands, to consumers shifting towards unfrozen fresh and 'natural' foods, requiring product innovation solutions.

Stepping up to the plate, Nomad Foods, household favourite to names like Birds Eye, Findus, iglo, Ledo, and Frikom has collaborated with Campden BRI to investigate the viability of increasing frozen food storage temperatures.

What they’ve found could potentially transform the industry's approach to cold storage whilst aligning with growing industry and consumer demands for more sustainable practices.

The study's objective was to determine if raising storage temperatures from the industry standard of -18°C to -15°C could significantly reduce carbon emissions and costs without compromising product quality, and it can.

Here, we explore the results of the study, and what this could mean for the frozen food industry worldwide.

Nomad Foods study

The results showed that a 3 degrees Celsius increase in frozen food storage temperatures could reduce freezer energy consumption by +10% with no damage to any products.

The study encompassed nine savoury items, including: poultry, coated fish, natural fish, vegetables, plant-based foods and pizza.

To ensure thoroughness, researchers tested these products at four different temperature points, spanning from the industry-standard -18°C to a warmer -9°C. 

The experiment focused on eight key areas across 13 individual tests:
  • Food safety
  • Texture
  • Nutritional content
  • Energy consumption
  • Packaging integrity
  • Taste
  • Appearance
  • Overall quality

And the study discovered that a move from -18°C to -15°C could make a substantial environmental impact with no compromise on food safety. 

This small change in temperature could:  

Save 17.7 million metric tonnes of carbon dioxide annually, which is the equivalent annual emissions of 3.8m cars   

Save energy at around 25 terawatt-hours (TW/h) - which is equivalent to the 8.63% annual energy consumption of the UK  

Cut supply chain costs by at least 5% and in some areas by up to 12%

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These findings suggest that raising storage temperatures by just 3°C could lead to substantial energy savings for food companies across the globe, without compromising product quality or safety, potentially transforming industry practices and reducing environmental impact.

What Nomad Foods’ results mean for frozen food companies across the globe

If widely adopted, the findings from this study could lead to substantial energy savings across the supply chain.

The ‘Move to -15°C’ aims to realign frozen food temperature standards to lower supply chain costs, reduce greenhouse gases, and secure global food resources.    

The coalition of Nomad Foods and Camden BRI represents how key players within the global food supply chain can collaborate and explore viable options for a move to -15°C.

Trends across the frozen food industry range from consolidation to achieve economies of scale and enhance market position, acquisition of niche players to quickly enter growing market segments (e.g., plant-based, premium frozen meals) and divestment of non-core frozen food businesses to focus on high-growth areas.

Such key players embracing these trends are heating up for change by acquiring and merging across the globe to face the challenges for the frozen food industry include: 

The consumer goods packaging sector, where Conagra Brands acquired Pinnacle Foods for USD$10.9bn in 2018.

The ice cream business, that saw Nestlé sell its US ice cream business to Froneri for USD$4bin 2019, focusing on core frozen food categories.

And McCain Foods investing heavily in plant-based frozen foods, including a significant stake in NUGGS.

Chief Executive Officer of Nomad Foods, Stéfan Descheemaeker says: “As we celebrate 100 years since flash freezing was invented by Clarence Birdseye, I think he would be very proud to see the innovations being driven in the frozen food category to tackle the world’s greatest challenge of climate change.”

Chief Executive Officer of Nomad Foods, Stéfan Descheemaeker encourages other frozen manufacturers to embrace these developments in across the industry, saying: “we can’t do this alone, which is why we are calling on other frozen food manufacturers to join us and the Move to -15oC coalition to ensure the full breadth of products within the frozen category are tested at higher temperatures.”

He adds: “We already know that frozen food compares very well against alternative preservation methods in terms of carbon footprint. The latest results of our study with Campden BRI underlines the critical role frozen food has in reducing the impact of the wider food industry on climate change.”

Leading the 'Move to Minus 15°C’ Coalition, Thomas Eskesen has been appointed Chairman, bringing over 35 years of experience within the refrigerated industry. From founding Eskesen Advisory, the provider of refrigerated transportation services, to his former position at Maersk, the shipping and logistics company.

The market is rapidly evolving, already seeing a flurry of activity of cutting-edge product development, breakthroughs in energy-efficient technologies and strategic mergers and acquisitions to adapt to the complex trilemma of a more sustainable, efficient, and consumer-centric era.

The winners in this new landscape may be those that can serve up sustainability alongside convenience and quality, or risk being left out in the cold.

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