The industrial refrigeration industry in Mexico can be divided into two distinct areas: commercial and industrial refrigeration. Refrigeration technology is widely used in different industries in Mexico including food processing, chemicals and pharmaceuticals, wine, fishery, bottling and brewing, oil industry, ice making factories, slaughter houses and the dairy industry. Some of the equipment used is freezing and refrigerating chambers, chillers, air cooled condensing units, evaporators, coils, etc., and are used in applications and processes including refrigerated transportation, industrial and commercial refrigerators, slaughter houses, and processing plants to name a few. Climate changes, population growth and technological innovation have promoted a large increase in the use of refrigeration in retail stores, supermarkets, and small industry.
The market for refrigeration equipment in Mexico has maintained modest growth, basically because of its widespread use. Several large-scale importers and manufacturers have established themselves in Mexico, impacting the general market opportunities. In addition, the security situation prevailing in the country and the recent economic crisis are two recent events that have impacted industry growth.
The U.S. continues to be the largest foreign supplier of refrigeration equipment and parts to the Mexican market, Imports to Mexico within the HS 8414 and 8418 codes showed an increase of 24.9 percent in 2010 against a 3% in 2011. An estimated growth of 10-12% is expected for FY 2012.
Presently, there is a commitment in Mexico to energy efficiency in air conditioning and refrigeration systems. Few energy sources, the high cost of fossil fuels and their impact on the environment, make buildings one of the main focal points for finding satisfactory solutions in the saving and efficiency of energy. Energy consumed by buildings makes up about 40% of the energy consumption worldwide - including Mexico. Another environmental commitment is the development of “green” refrigerants for the commercial and industrial refrigeration industry that do not deplete the ozone layer.
The present focus of the industry is “sustainability”, the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) defines it as “to maximize the effect of the use of energy resources minimizing the impact that such use may have in the environment.” And the World Commission for Development and Environment defines it as “to develop technological solutions to satisfy the actual needs without compromising the capacity of future generations to satisfy its own needs.” This means using green refrigerants to fully replace the HCFC refrigerants, mainly the HCFC-22, HCFC-b or mixes that contain one or both substances used as refrigerant. A new era begins with the need to produce refrigerants that do not negatively affect the environment, do not destroy the ozone layer, and do not have a greenhouse effect, as well as being more energy efficient than the ones that are in the market already.
The National Association of Manufactures for the Refrigeration Industry in Mexico stated that their goal is to completely eliminate, by 2015, the use of equipment of first and second generation that uses contaminating gases. The Association will push the use of efficient-energy equipment that uses environmental friendly third generation gases, which, when implemented, in the new equipment, will save up to 70% of energy compared with the first and second generation equipment.
Mexico and Brazil are implementing standards of energy efficiency and new refrigerants to protect the environment. Each new technology in the refrigeration industry, from its production to its application, is oriented to synthetic refrigerants without chlorine or natural refrigerants like CO2.
Air conditioning and refrigeration system demand is well-covered in the northern Mexico and throughout most of Mexico; however, there are opportunities for U.S. companies to sell parts and components such as compressors, valves, heat pumps, vacuum pumps, evaporators, thermostats, valves, filters, refrigerants, etc. The potential growth is expected to be in the refrigerated transport, food refrigeration, and processing plant sectors.
According to the National Association of Refrigeration and Air Conditioning Industry Distributors (ANDIRA), the economic crisis and the illegal import of used refrigeration equipment have affected the refrigeration industry in Mexico. From January to June 2012, there was a 15% drop in sales compared to the same period in 2008. ANDIRA states that used equipment from the U.S. enters the Mexican market as refurbished equipment when in fact it has been just painted. This action affects the refrigeration industry because this equipment does not comply with the Mexican Official Standard Nom-021-ENER/SCFI/ECOL-2000, and its energy consumption is 10 times higher than the present standards. According ANDIRA, this sector has a market value of $1.5 billion dollars annually, from which 40% is made up of the refrigeration sector and the 60% is the air conditioning industry.
U.S. companies that are world leaders in air conditioning systems are well established in the Mexican market including companies such as Carrier, Johnson Controls/York, Lennox, Daikin/McQuay, and Trane. There are other brands in the market for products such as: compressors, thermostats, controls, motors, manifolds, valves, such as Parker, Honeywell, Krack, Embraco, DuPont, Taylor, Saginomiya, Copeland, Bitzer, Emerson, Sporlan, Imperial, McMillan, Maneurop, Thermotron among others. Bohn, Danfoss, Blitzer and Gudner are considered some of the strongest in the refrigeration area. However, Asian countries are playing an increasingly important role in this arena, nevertheless, many manufacturers of refrigeration products prefer to use the U.S. components rather than Asian because of the product quality and after sale service.
The refrigeration market is closely related to that of the food industry because any grocery store, supermarket, storage warehouse and food processing plants need refrigeration equipment to maintain the freshness and quality of the product they handle. According to the newspaper El Economista, the refrigeration industry in the city of Queretaro, in the central region of Mexico, has a manufacturing sector that plays an important role worldwide, and because of this, the manufacturing refrigeration industry is consolidating a cluster in that state of Mexico. Companies that work as suppliers to manufacturers of commercial refrigerators form this cluster and some of these manufacturers are exporting their products already. According to Mr. Hernan Mendoza from IMBERA, a large commercial refrigeration manufacturer, stated that 70% of the raw material is for the manufacture of refrigeration display cabinets from local companies established in San Juan del Rio, Queretaro and the Queretaro region, reducing imports by about USD$100 million dollars annually.
Small and medium size companies (mipymes) are the main suppliers of the commercial refrigeration industry supplying materials such as racks, insulation, seals, plastic profiles, and glass. There is a possibility that this refrigeration cluster will continue to expand.