LONDON – After discovering through two pilot programs that it could lower greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by storing ice creams at warmer freezer temperatures, Unilever announced it is granting a free, non-exclusive license to ice cream makers for 12 of its reformulation patents.
Per Unilever, the patents can be used to reformulate ice cream products so they remain stable at a freezer temperature of 10.4 F, compared to the industry standard of -0.4 F.
The company said it hopes with this information other ice cream manufacturers worldwide also will move toward more energy efficient freezers.
“We’re pleased to take this next step in our work to increase the temperature of our last mile ice cream freezer cabinets,” said Andy Sztehlo, chief R&D officer, ice cream, for Unilever. “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. 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, first announced in 2022, was carried out at Unilever’s global ice cream R&D center in the United Kingdom. Two pilot programs in Germany, the company said, confirmed ice cream products remained stable when reducing energy by roughly 25% per freezer cabinet – and setting the temperature at the warmer 10.4 F. Unilever noted the higher temperature is both better for the environment and more cost effective.
Emissions from retail ice cream freezers account for 10% of the company’s value chain GHG footprint, Unilever shared. The company’s Climate Transition Action plan also involves exploring the potential of renewable electricity use in freezers. The goal for the plan involves reaching net zero emissions across its value chain by 2039, and a science-based target to halve the emissions impact of its products on a consumer use basis by 2030.
Unilever said ice cream manufacturers can receive more information about the process of licensing its reformulation patents by contacting IceCream.Reformulations@unilever.com.