Refrigerators have changed and so have the considerations of consumers who buy them. 50 years ago the main motivation behind buying a fridge was to keep as much of your food fresh for as long as possible. But today consumers are more concerned about space, health standards, energy efficiency and whether their appliance is eco-friendly. As the needs of consumers have changed, manufacturers have had to adapt and come up with innovative ways of keeping food fresh while meeting these needs. The humble fridge, it seems, has become a reflection of society’s concerns and new ways of thinking. Even more interesting is how these concerns and thoughts are shaping the technology which is being incorporated into new products. There are three main trends which have played a major role in refrigerator technology:
- Energy efficiency
- Environmental considerations
- Food safety and hygiene
These trends have manifested differently in different parts of the world meaning manufacturers have had to tailor their products for specific markets. In China, for example, the last five years have seen a major shift towards energy efficient refrigerators. In 2000, 70 per cent of Chinese households owned refrigerators which accounted for half of residential consumption on their own. This, at a time when the country’s reliance on coal to supply energy was reaching alarming levels. Today Chinese consumers are only interested in appliances which don’t exacerbate the chances of possible resource exhaustion. In Europe environmental concerns have grown to become an equally important consideration for consumers. This includes a move to increased energy efficiency but attention is also being paid to the materials used in construction, the recyclability of the products, the eco-friendly aspects of manufacturing and even the ability of the products to prolong food life to avoid unnecessary wastage. Both Europe and the USA have been the driving force behind a move to increased food safety, leading to more and more consumers asking questions about the hygiene standards of the products they purchase. In the 2012 Food and Health Survey, which was commissioned by the Food Information Council Foundation, 85 per cent of respondents said they had spent some time thinking about the safety of food in their homes. According to the survey, Americans are looking for assurances that their food is healthy, fresh and free from harmful substances – the humble fridge is paving the way. Instead of setting the trend, manufacturers are now responsible for making sure their products keep up with them. Through its latest range of refrigerators LG has embraced this paradigm shift – and they have done it in a diverse set of regional markets. It’s thanks to extensive consumer research that LG have been able to manufacturer cutting edge refrigerators. In Australia LG recently commissioned Pure Profile to do research into what is really going on in Australian households when it comes to refrigerators. The nationwide survey found that over half of the respondents opened their main fridge door over 30 times a day – all in the search for something to eat. The main reason for this, they found, was that the average Australian keeps a lot of food in their fridge which eventually leads to organisational problems and often forgetting what food you have in the fridge – 40 per cent of respondents admitted to this. The result? A fine-tuned set of goals in terms of refrigerator organisation designs for models being sold in Australia – a country that spends USD4 billion on discarded food annually. An example is LG’s Door-in-Door feature on their latest French door refrigerators. The feature helps to eliminate the energy loss caused when people stand in front of their fridge with the main door open while they search for food. LG has also developed Inverter Linear Compressor technology which makes their models more energy efficient. The technology oversees how much cooling power is being utilised at one time, reduces the amount of internal friction and eliminates the need for a more wasteful reciprocal drive system. Concerned about food health and safety? Then the LG’s Hygiene Fresh filter will set your mind at ease. It uses a four-stage filtration configuration to remove or render inert 99.99 per cent of the harmful substances which make their way into the refrigerator’s interior. Further air flow controls ensure an even temperature throughout the fridge keeping food fresh no matter where it’s kept. All these advances are just part of LG’s commitment to safe, green, energy efficient refrigeration. In the future owners of LG fridges will be able to take advantage of smart-grid capability built into the company’s latest fridges. Smart Grid services, once online, will allow LG fridge owners to take advantage of energy rates when they are at their cheapest by scheduling the refrigerator’s more consumption-heavy tasks to coincide with periods of the day when rates drop. The advances in technology which today sets the modern refrigerator apart from its predecessor are the result of growing consumer knowledge. Fridges, irrespective of size, colour or shape are indispensable. As the world changes refrigerators will continue to change with it – shaped by the people who buy them. For more information or to view the full LG refrigerator range visit lg.com/za.