Let’s not beat around the bush here.
If you put competitive differences aside for one moment, most serious catering equipment suppliers would have to agree that the kit now rolling off the production lines of their peers is considerably more efficient than it was six or seven years ago.
Everybody is well aware of the sustainability obligations of commercial food operators these days and while manufacturers might dress up their green credentials as a USP, the reality is they have had no choice but to ensure their offerings are as energy efficient as possible in order to remain at the forefront of the industry.
Like anything, some companies are better at doing this than others — and it’s usually those that fall into the former category which end up frustrated when they encounter competitors making what they regard to be spurious or exaggerated claims.
We’ve covered the topic of ‘greenwashing’ fairly extensively over the past 12 months and there is no denying that it is an emotive subject. Nothing seems to irk a manufacturer more than when it sees one of its rivals making declarations that it vehemently disagrees with.
So the recent news that various industry bodies, including DEFRA, CESA and the Carbon Trust are involved in the creation of a software tool that seeks to inform caterers exactly how much energy their kitchens use and what they could save by adopting different equipment is an intriguing development to say the least.
Short of lining manufacturers up against a wall and getting them to plug their equipment in together, smart metering would appear to be one of the only sensible ways of allowing operators to independently establish how much energy a particular piece of equipment guzzles.
I know that several companies in the market are already championing the use of smart metres to measure load data on cooking suites, refrigeration systems and other appliances, and I am sure this will only continue as catering equipment buyers demand more transparency.
That is not to say that this topic is without its complexities. Certainly when you start getting into larger kitchens, where a huge variety of equipment is used, the levels of complexity increase. Equally, no amount of smart metering mitigates for profligate behaviour among those operating the equipment.
As suppliers are fond of pointing out, if the item isn’t used correctly or turned off when it is not needed, it is irrelevant how many environmentally-friendly features it has got.
Energy efficiency is an area that remains mired in controversy and half-truths, but any moves that endeavour to bring greater clarity to the overall issue should be welcomed — so long as they are executed correctly and consistently.