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Unilever offers access to energy-saving ice cream patents

UK: Unilever has announced that it will grant its competitors access to its ice cream reformulation patents that allow its products to be stored at a higher temperature of -12°C.

The move follows work carried out by Unilever on its production techniques affecting the microstructure and matrix of ice cream to enable it to be stored at temperatures warmer than the industry standard -18ºC.

Trials conducted at Colworth, Unilever’s global ice cream R&D centre, and two pilots in Germany are said to have confirmed an energy reduction of around 25% per freezer cabinet with the new formulation at the warmer temperature of -12°C.

Unilever has now announced it will grant a free non-exclusive license to the ice cream industry for 12 reformulation patents. The company insists that access to these patents will help the industry reformulate ice cream products that remain stable at the warmer freezer temperature of -12°C, and enable a move towards more energy efficient freezer cabinets across the globe.

Unilever owns a fleet of over two million point-of-sale ice-cream freezer cabinets, which account for 10% of the company’s value chain greenhouse gas footprint. Unilever recognises that with retailers using its ice cream freezers to stock other manufacturers’ products, the reduced temperatures can only be achieved if its competitors adopt the new formulations as well. 

“By granting a free non-exclusive license to these 12 reformulation patents, we hope our peers and partners from across the ice cream sector will benefit and work to tackle emissions across the industry,” commented Unilever’s chief ice cream R&D officer Andy Sztehlo. 

“We believe through collaboration, we can reduce the cold chain’s impact on the environment, whilst continuing to deliver the great quality ice cream products our consumers love,” he added.

Unilever says its interested parties can contact [email protected] to receive further information about obtaining a license.

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