Small Food Retailers Found to Lack Resources for NatRef Adoption

The number one challenge that small organic food retailers in Europe face in trying to adopt natural refrigerant-based refrigeration, air conditioning and heat pump equipment (RACHP) is the lack of sufficient information and technical assistance, according to Jaime Ferreira, President of Portuguese Organic Farming Association Agrobio.

Ferreira made this point during a webinar presented by the Refrigerants, Naturally! for LIFE (RefNat4LIFE) project at the Virtual Trade Show, hosted by shecco, publisher of this website, on September 1-2.

Launched in June 2019 with €1.6 million (US$1.89 million) in financing from the EU, the RefNat4LIFE project will run until December 2021. It is the latest initiative by Refrigerants, Naturally!, a Königstein, Germany-based international association promoting natural refrigerant technology. (shecco, publisher of this website) is a partner in the RefNat4LIFE project).

The webinar, titled “Europe’s small food retailers en route to sustainable refrigeration via energy efficient technical solutions based on natural refrigerants,” addressed the new RefNat4LIFE project, which aims to promote the use of natural refrigerants to small (under 1,000m2 (10,763ft2) of sales area) organic food retailers in Europe.

We put the focus on small food retail because, as compared with large supermarket chains, the switch towards climate friendly cooling is not as far advanced,” said Britta Paetzold, Project Manager at German-based independent environmental consulting firm HEAT GmbH, who also participated in the webinar,

“Much of our organic shops in Portugal are very small, private and very dispersed throughout the country,” Ferreira noted. “It is a challenge to give them information to change the RACHP equipment in their own shops [in addition to] the lack of technical advisory to change this.”

The project’s market study found that independently owned stores are held back from adopting climate -friendly systems by:

  • Limited financial capacity
  • Limited knowledge on technical solutions
  • Lack of organizational structures
  • High dependency on local RACHP technicians whose capability might also be limited

Helping reach climate targets

The RefNat4LIFE project’s activities include raising awareness among end-users and the distribution chain, increasing training in the RACHP servicing sector and promoting the uptake of the equipment itself by end-users. Through these activities the RefNat4LIFE project “will support an effective and timely achievement of the EU 2030 climate targets,” said Paetzold.

Project partners include organic retail associations, refrigeration industry experts and technicians and market developers from several European countries.

Those interested in finding out more about the RefNat4LIFE project can contact Britta Paetzold at or visit the project’s website at The Virtual Trade Show webinars and information from 77 exhibitors are currently still available on the show platform and will be until September 30. Those who did not register for the live event can register for access to the post-show material, by clicking here.