Panasonic helps Riverford Butchery lower its Carbon Footprint


Riverford Organic Farm was looking to increase sustainability in refrigeration at its new butchery in Devon. Installer, Neil McCourt of Keep it Cool, sought the advice of refrigeration specialist distributor, Mervin Chumun at Hawco Ltd, and together specified four 10HP Panasonic Coldchain Refrigeration units to provide the best solution for the Riverford Butchery’s hanging, retail, and despatch areas.

With over 25 years’ experience in all aspects of retail refrigeration and the use of CO2 Neil McCourt was confident in the solution proposed: “The main challenge during this project was to keep the rest of the butchery running whilst the expansion was happening. Panasonic cold chain technology was specified partly because of my years of knowledge of the brand on the AC side, but also I am fully aware of Panasonic’s sustainable and environmental credentials. I know the company has conducted lots of research and seem to be leading the way in this area – they have even created a whole City in Japan to highlight sustainability that runs on renewable energy.”

Riverford Organic Farm was first established in the 1980’s and originally delivered fresh vegetables to supermarkets but then realised that there was a unique business model with home delivery – now in 2022, they have built an impressive business, delivering to over 80,000 homes across England and Wales from 36 distribution sites.  Nigel Bower, Facilities and Property Manager at Riverford commented, “We are looking to make significant in-roads by 2030 to drive down our carbon footprint of our activities and in particular the refrigeration and electrical usage that represents 7% of our overall business, we are looking to reduce this with the work we are currently doing especially within our refrigeration requirements.” 

Having reviewed several options currently on the market, the Panasonic range of CO2 (R744) Cold chain units proved the best option for Riverford. Nigel explains: “We chose the Panasonic range of R744 units as the best natural cold chain refrigeration solution, it offers the best stability and the environmental credentials we were looking for, along with delivering a low energy usage and fitted exactly with what we wanted to achieve in the butchery and on our other sites as well.  As the existing site has doubled in size and expanded recently – we are already seeing the benefits in costs. Energy usage is going down and the system is so far performing as we expected to achieve what we wanted to keep a stable environment and reduce our costs - so all good. We have 36 other sites that need updating – we are looking at renewables such as CO2 in these sites and currently researching further.”

Neil of Keep It Cool further added, “The benefits of using the R744 system are not only for the environment, but also offer greater energy efficiency in addition to the sound of the units being barely noticeable and very quiet, so great for residential areas as you can hardly hear them. Panasonic are very reliable and have a proven system that is easy to install. All the equipment for the project was delivered on time, and ready for us to install. The installation process was smooth and easy and the support from Indy and the team was fantastic.”

All the Panasonic units are designed with optimum efficiency in mind, the gas coolers feature two important technologies:

·      a unique twin stage rotary compressor which is powerful, quiet and comes with a five-year warranty

·     the split-cycle within the refrigeration circuit

Indy Tharnvithian, Cold Chain Technical Specialist at Panasonic added, “We understand how crucial it is to have a reliable refrigeration system for the food chain market and the cost implication on repair works. The customer benefits from an increase in operational efficiency with our CO2 system of up to 50% more compared to a standard cycle of a conventional refrigerant system.”

The Panasonic units offer a wide range of applications and system capacities from 2kW to 16kW, the units can be used in places such as schools, hospitals, service stations, care homes, hotels and of course supermarkets. Heat recovery is also available as an option. The 16kW units installed at Riverford are designed for flexible installation. The system allows for a maximum of 100 meters of total pipe run in between the outdoor and the evaporator, which was important for the Riverford project.

Neil of Keep it Cool commented, “The support received as an installer throughout this project has been second to none. The units are simple to install, commission, wire and pipe up, in fact, one of the easiest systems I have worked on. We have another project that started recently with another 10HP and 4HP since and currently being installed.”

Mervin Chumun, Senior Technical Engineer at Hawco and who has a wealth of experience in AC and refrigeration said, “In this industry, natural refrigerants have become more prolific, and we are seeing a greater demand, with clients making the decision to become carbon zero. We have found that Panasonic offers a wide range and a unique solution that works well with our customers refrigeration needs for a complete refrigeration package to equip an entire cold room including the evaporator and fixings. At Hawco we can offer training and additional technical support throughout a project”

Mervin further added, “As Riverford were looking for a more sustainable and environmentally friendly solution for refrigeration, the Panasonic cold chain units dramatically lowered the running costs for the butchery, whereas alternatives currently on the market are much more expensive – CO2 is currently one tenth of the price per kilo. The 10HP Panasonic units specified, fitted exactly with the size and capacity and matched up to the equipment at Riverford, in addition, we were able to provide an energy efficiency estimate for energy use in comparison to alternatives – the Panasonic units came out on top. The Panasonic range does high and low temperatures – competitors aren’t currently able to offer this. In addition, Panasonic offer a five-year warranty on the compressor and two years on parts – all other competitors only offer 12 months.”

Panasonic has recently introduced a brand-new training centre at their new premises in Welwyn Garden City, where the team can deliver regular hands-on training. Additionally, they have recently introduced a mobile training rig to reach out to engineers and students all over the UK and Ireland. The training consists of a series of theory and practical assessments to be undertaken, leading to a LCL level 3 Awards Certification.

To find out more about the range -

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