Changes in families and cities impact refrigeration

It’s necessary to be aware of new habits and trends, to seize the opportunities that open up.

Refrigeration use has everything to do with the way people live. When families and cities transform, you can be sure that there will also be changes for those working in this sector.

In recent years the family structure has changed considerably worldwide. This occurred due to cultural and behavioral issues, as well as for economic reasons and even also due to improved health and quality of life.

Previously it was very common to see young people getting married early and starting large families with several children. Today the reality is different. It’s common to see people get married later and the family is no longer large: some couples opt for only one or even no child.

Using data from the National Household Sample Survey (PNAD), a recent study by economist Camila Strobl Sakamoto showed that between 1981 and 2011, the percentage of people living alone

Camila Sakamoto: “The percentage of people living alone has tripled and the number of couples without children has grown significantly”.
Camila Sakamoto: “The percentage of people living alone has tripled and the number of couples without children has grown significantly”.

in urban areas tripled, reaching today 2% among men and 2.3% among women. In addition, the number of couples without children has grown significantly, being close to 10% of the total.

According to the economist, these changes related to the household size, contribute to the increase in income, which creates new consumption habits. In Brazil, she said, the total household income grew 38% in cities and almost 100% in rural areas, between 1981 and 2011.

The scenario of changes doesn’t stop there, and the impacts that they cause on the refrigeration sector are extremely varied, as you’ll see below

Busy life of large cities and lack of time to prepare meals has increased the demand for ready and semi-ready food.
Busy life of large cities and lack of time to prepare meals has increased the demand for ready and semi-ready food.

It should be remembered that, in recent decades, improvements in living conditions and the availability of health services has led to an increase in life expectancy. This means that there are now many more older people, many of them independent and living in their own homes.

Studies indicate that, in 2050, for the first time in history there will be more elderly people than young people in the world.

Other significant changes include same-sex couples, new families made up of people who were already married before, people who chose to keep a small home in the city to sleep during the week and a more spacious home in a nearby region.

While all these changes occurred, cities were also growing and evolving rapidly, like the work world, also influencing this process of change.

It also should be noted that, in the early 20th century, 90% of the world population still lived in rural areas. In just over 100 years, there was an intense migration to cities, which currently house more than half of the 7 billion inhabitants on the earth.

According to the UN (United Nations), this urbanization process will continue. In 2050, the forecast is that about 70% of people will live in cities.

In addition: a large number of cities grew at an astounding rate. The latest population statistics show that, in Brazil, there are now 17 cities with over one million inhabitants.


Associated with these new family structures and urban changes, there is also a trend towards smaller residences, which are more compact and require better use of space. This has been happening around the world, at a faster or slower pace, reflecting a new way to live.

Busy life

Today, in general, life is busier, because of the large number of activities that each person has, difficult traffic in major cities and demands of modern life.

In many cases, the distance between residence and work makes it impossible to go home for meals, which makes eating out more common.

Professor Rosa Wanda Diez Garcia, from the Nutrition and Metabolism course, at the Faculty of Medicine, University of São Paulo in Ribeirão Preto (SP), points out some characteristics that define the current way of eating:

  • Lack of time to prepare and consume food;
  • Use of new conservation and preparation techniques;
  • Expansion of food product offerings;
  • Shift from home meals to establishments that sell food (restaurants, cafeterias, street vendors, bakeries, etc.);
  • Greater food offerings as well as more transportable and practical packaging.

Another important trend detected in different research and consultant studies is cocooning, that is, people’s desire to stay at home more and more, outside working hours. With this, also they want to have in their home environment, products and services that they would have on the street. Many apartments sold today in large cities use this new demand very well by offering, for example, larger kitchens or so-called “gourmet terraces”.

All these trends contribute to a growing pursuit for practicality, convenience and comfort. It’s precisely where cooling plays an important role. If people have less time to buy food and prepare it, where are the solutions? If they want to receive friends at home or in a farm, with all the amenities and pleasures linked to food and drink, what can they do? If they want to follow a special diet program, with balanced meals, what are the alternatives? Many answers to these and many other demands of modern life are already in the market:

  • Growth in ready and semi-ready food offerings;
  • Creation of practical, safe and easy to handle packaging;
  • Increase in delivery options (home delivery);
  • Diversification of the retailers offering food (ex. eating areas in bakeries or vehicles that sell food on the streets).


It can easily be noticed that refrigeration has a direct and fundamental role in many of these aspects. That’s why today there is an increasing number of households that rely on refrigerated wine cellars, beverage coolers, ice-making machines, small beer coolers, as well as refrigerators that incorporate new features and functions. Similarly, it’s possible to see the increased presence of refrigeration equipment in commercial establishments of all kinds.

Today, it’s common to see small bars, bakeries or restaurants with various freezers and beverage coolers. But it’s possible to find equipment like this in other commercial or service locations, which previously had no connection with food. This applies, for example, with pharmacies, book stores, medical clinics, sporting goods stores and many others.

Cheryl Camargo: “Before there was only the refrigerator in the home, but today that has changed.”
Cheryl Camargo: “Before there was only the refrigerator in the home, but today that has changed.”

All this creates demand for equipment manufacturers and their components, spare parts dealers and maintenance professionals. “The greater presence of refrigeration equipment in homes opens up opportunities for contractors and also for retailers. Previously, there was only one refrigerator per property. For those who stocked food, there was also a freezer. That has changed: today there are fewer freezers, but many homes have more than one refrigerator and even a wine cellar, water cooler, refrigerator for beer and sometimes even a beer cooler”, says Cheryl Tatiana Camargo, Sales Manager at Embraco. “This increases the number of devices for which technical service is needed. While this is an opportunity, it also presents a challenge because the contractor needs to know more types of different systems and applications’’, she warns.

Cheryl recalls that it’s not only the compressors that are different depending on the refrigeration system, but also the presence of electronic components, refrigerant fluids and other characteristics, which need to be well known.

“For the retailer, this situation also creates changes. Over time, small compressors – like the 1/8 HP for use in 1 door refrigerators – now have less demand for replacement, since people prefer to change the equipment for a new one, rather than repair it. But this same 1/8 HP compressor is now present in more sophisticated and higher end equipment, such as the beer cooler recently launched by Consul. This can mean that the consumer opts for repair, increasing the demand for this type of compressors”, she explains.

Every change creates new challenges and opportunities. It’s no different with these transformations taking place in cities, families and people’s habits. And you, are you aware of this? Have you thought about how to prepare yourself and benefit from it, opening new markets and gaining customers? Write to the Club, and tell us!