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Innovative Eyemouth food business puts a freeze on rising energy costs

Eyemouth Freezers is set to save over £30,000 through upgrades and installation of energy saving equipment with support from our service and the Scottish Government’s unsecured and interest-free SME Loan.

Eyemouth Freezers Ltd, an independent food-processing company based in Eyemouth in the Scottish Borders, was established in 2000 by a consortium of local farmers. It specialises in freezing and packing vegetables and other food products that are sold through the UK’s major supermarkets.

The peas that are grown by the local farmers’ co-operative, Scottish Borders Produce Ltd, are at the core of Eyemouth Freezers’ operations. The peas are processed on site from late June to September, then stored, packed and distributed throughout the year. To enable this, the business operates out of a 100,000 square feet foodprocessing facility that includes a 10,000-pallet capacity cold store, processing hall, packaging/dry goods store and two modern retail packing facilities.

The company is committed to reducing food waste through its ‘farm to fork’ philosophy, which embraces the benefits that can be achieved by adopting circular economy business models. This approach has led the business to have supplier approval for the major supermarkets and being rated as a ‘Green’ processing site on the supermarket audit ‘traffic light’ rating system.

Energy efficiency is also a key driver for management as a way of keeping costs down and maintaining the business’s competitiveness. As such, in 2018, Hubert Brady, Eyemouth Freezers’ Managing Director, contacted us for support improving the company’s energy efficiency.

Our consultant visited the site and identified three energy efficiency projects, which, with the support of the Scottish Government interest-free SME Loan, the business has now been able to capitalise on.

The first project, and a common energy saving opportunity for most Scottish businesses, was to upgrade lighting. As recommended, Eyemouth Freezers has now installed LED lighting throughout its cold stores and processing areas. The investment of £15,000 will reduce the business’s energy costs by an estimated £7,500 each year.

The second project saw the business’s existing oil-fired boiler, which was providing heating and hot water to the offices, being upgraded to a modern, energy-efficient boiler. It’s estimated that this change will save the business a further £2,800 a year for an investment of £20,000.

The third project specifically related to the business’s cold store – and the use of dehumidifiers to improve operating conditions and save energy.

Over the course of a typical day, the doors separating the site’s cold store and packaging areas are opened several times. As the cold store’s temperature is around -20oC and the packaging area’s temperature is much higher (for workers’ comfort), this causes warmer air and moisture to be drawn into the cold store.

This air exchange means the cooling units, which regulate the temperature in the cold store, need to work to combat the influx of heat. That effort uses energy, which adds cost to the business’s operations. There is also the additional wear and tear on the cooling units that results from this effort, adding to maintenance costs and reducing the working life of the equipment.

This is a common issue in the industry and the effects are traditionally reduced by installing an air curtain at the door to restrict warm air transfer. However, the traditional air curtain still leaves the issue of moisture being drawn into the cold store – moisture that condenses on the cold store floor (as ice, frost and snow), creating a slippery surface, which is a serious hazard to the business’s 140 staff and pallet truck operators.

In addition, frost build-up on cooling units reduces their performance, and increases energy consumption and the business’s energy and maintenance bills. Indeed, to remove the frost build-up, several defrost cycles would have to run each day, introducing more heat into the cold store and requiring refrigeration plant to work even harder.

Following successful trials, Eyemouth Freezer’s solution was to install an industrial dehumidifier. This technology not only minimises heat transfer, but also creates a dry curtain that reduces moisture transfer from the air over the door space.

At a cost of around £20,000, the industrial dehumidifier technology is estimated to save the business £20,000 a year on energy bills, meaning the investment will pay back in just 12 months.

“The excellent advice and financial support we have had from from the service has been critical in allowing us to quickly move forward with our energy efficiency improvement programme – helping us reduce our costs by over £30,000 a year, reduce our environmental impact and protect our position in what is a very competitive marketplace.” Hubert Brady, Managing Director, Eyemouth Freezers Ltd.

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