Global demand for commercial refrigeration equipment is forecast to increase 4.7% annually through 2018 to $36.5 billion, according to a new study conducted by The Freedonia Group, Inc., a Cleveland, Ohio-based market research firm.

The study, “World Commercial Refrigeration Equipment,” shows that advances in commercial refrigeration equipment will be bolstered in large part by ongoing industrialization efforts in many of the world’s developing countries, especially China and India. The rising ownership level of household refrigerators and freezers in the developing world will stimulate demand, since ownership of these products spurs consumer interest in refrigerated and frozen foods and drives retail food outlets to invest in more refrigeration equipment.

Among developed nations, recovering economic conditions will drive demand, as purchases of commercial refrigeration equipment were postponed through much of the 2008-2013 period due to the global economic downturn. Among the primary commercial refrigeration equipment products, reach-in and walk-in refrigerators and freezers will record some of the fastest gains in demand. 

China will continue to be the world’s fastest growing market for commercial refrigeration equipment, according to the study. As China continues to develop its food and beverage industry, demand for commercial refrigeration equipment will rise significantly. According to analyst Kyle Peters, “this includes not only products used in food retail and foodservice applications, but also in food production and food distribution settings.” China’s efforts to establish a more functional cold chain with chilled warehouses and storage facilities will be a key contributor to growth. 

Demand gains in developed nations will also play an important role in overall market advances, despite increasing at rates below the global average.This is particularly true in the United States, which is the world’s largest national market for commercial refrigeration equipment and home to one of the most expansive foodservice and food retail industries. In addition, U.S. consumers have an increasingly sophisticated palate, and demand for specialty food products such as organic foods will increase the number of items stored on refrigerated shelves.  Increasingly stringent regulations will also drive commercial refrigeration equipment demand in most of the world’s markets, especially in the developed world.