EUROPE: Panasonic looks set to move into the refrigeration market in Europe after launching a range of CO2 condensing units at last week’s Interclima exhibition in Paris.
Aimed at convenience stores, bakeries, forecourts and supermarkets, the launch in France marks Panasonic’s first foray into the refrigeration market in Europe.
Although virtually unknown in Europe, Panasonic is well known as a major player in the commercial refrigeration market in the Far East. Its energy-efficient and environmentally conscious refrigerated and freezer display cases for supermarkets and convenience stores are available in Japan, China and other parts of Asia.
The Japanese company reinforced its standing in the global refrigeration market in 2015, with the acquisition of major US display case manufacturer Hussmann. It has also previously reported plans to generate sales of JPY300bn (US$2.65bn) from its food distribution business in 2018.
Panasonic has been a pioneer of CO2 refrigeration in the Far East. In 2009, it was one of the first companies to begin verification testing of CO2 units. Since then, at least five different CO2 models have been released in Japan.
“With a long and successful history in commercial refrigeration in Japan, Panasonic is well placed to bring this experience to Europe, including the UK, with the right partners for the technology and the local markets,” a Panasonic spokesperson told the Cooling Post. “More details will be available once appropriate routes to market and supporting infrastructure is in place to effectively and professionally sell and support the product.”
The launch in France follows successful field trials of three 2hp CO2 units at a Co-op Kvickly store in the Danish town of Randers. That trial, which began in January 2016, saw two of the units supplying a 44m³ freezer room and one supplying a similar-sized medium temperature cold room.
The French launch includes the establishment of a separate sales team led by a key account manager. Further sales appointments are promised in 2018.
Marketing manager David Bioche described the launch as the fruit of two years of research and development. “The CO2 group of Panasonic is now one of the flagships in our range,” he said.
Units up to 14.6kW are currently produced but it is unclear how many will initially be available in Europe. Sold as a “plug and play” system, the package includes the condensing unit (incorporating 2-stage rotary compressor and EC fans) a panel with preprogrammed controller, expansion valve and all required sensors.