“Second” freezers, refrigerators ride the COVID wave

The Yomiuri Shimbun

Compact freezers and refrigerators are growing in popularity amid the spread of the novel coronavirus, as consumers buying food in bulk crave extra freezing and cooling units.

Consumer electronics manufacturers compete to offer these appliances, called “secondary” freezers or refrigerators, with a greater variety of designs and functions, as people who buy more food to cook and eat at home prefer often place their extra units outside the kitchen.

Hitachi, Ltd. has partnered with a furniture company in the spring to release a small refrigerator with 10 color options, including dark green and brick.

Since the refrigerator radiates heat from below, it can be placed against the wall, like a piece of furniture. Two units can be installed side by side or stacked vertically.

Hitachi said the common consumer desire to place their second fridge outside the kitchen is why it designed the appliance to fit in a living room or bedroom. “We hope customers choose their favorite color, one that matches their furniture or floor,” a representative said.

Earlier this year, Sharp Corp. introduced a small frost-free freezer that comes with a fan installed inside. The freezer is also equipped with a feature that allows it to be used as a refrigerator, and the appliance door can be opened from both left and right, making it an easy fit for many different setups.

During the April-June period, domestic shipments of Sharp’s small freezers increased five-fold compared to the same period last year. According to the results of a survey conducted by the company among consumers who purchased the freezer, consumers purchased the item to store “frozen food sent by municipalities under the hometown government tax system. furusato nozei” or “fish that I caught”.

Small “chest type” freezers with lids on top have been the norm, but nowadays small front-opening freezers, which allow people to easily scan what’s inside, have gained popularity.

Aqua, a brand of Chinese group Haier, offers a small freezer that received high marks thanks to its slim 36cm wide silhouette. The Haier Group has also launched a product that allows users to set the temperature of its two freezer spaces separately.

According to the Japan Electrical Manufacturers’ Association, a trade group for appliance makers, domestic shipments of home freezers totaled 442,000 units in fiscal 2021, nearly double the number two years ago. year.

The growth of the small freezer market has been largely driven by increased demand for easy-to-prepare frozen foods amid the pandemic.

According to a survey by the Japan Frozen Food Association, domestic frozen food shipments for home use hit a record high of 391.9 billion yen in 2021.

However, in terms of energy-saving performance, small refrigerators often consume more energy per storage unit than large, high-performance appliances. Makiko Tanaka, a writer specializing in home appliances, said, “Consumers are advised to check annual electricity costs for small appliances.

Karl M. Bailey