Access to these patents will help the industry manufacture ice cream products that remain stable at –12°C, rather than the current industry standard of –18°C.
Unilever said it hoped that by sharing its patents with ice cream manufacturers worldwide, the industry would be able to move towards more energy-efficient freezer cabinets.
The fmcg giant unveiled its plans to increase the temperature of its ‘last mile’ ice cream freezer cabinets, while “ensuring the same ice cream quality and consumer experience” last November.
Since then, research conducted at its global ice cream R&D centre in Colworth and two pilots in Germany have confirmed an energy reduction of around 25% per freezer cabinet at the warmer temperature of –12°C.
As well as being better for the environment, the warmer temperature means the freezers are cheaper to run.
Emissions from retail ice cream freezers currently account for 10% of Unilever’s value chain greenhouse gas footprint.
“We’re pleased to take this next step in our work to increase the temperature of our last-mile ice cream freezer cabinets,” said Unilever’s chief R&D officer for ice cream 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.”
The research forms part of Unilever’s Climate Transition Action Plan, which sets out an ambition for the business to achieve net zero across its value chain by 2039.