Editor’s view: There is no such thing as a bad piece of catering equipment. Is there?

Andrew Seymour grayscale

There’s no such thing as a bad piece of catering equipment these days. There’s just kit that lasts, and kit that doesn’t.

Whether you choose to believe that is up to you, but it is a point that’s worth considering as operators across the board begin to expand and invest in their kitchen estates again.

Every operator is different and what suits one company won’t suit another. The variety of brands and equipment that you see on show in commercial kitchens these days serves as a clear reminder that it is very much a buyer’s market and that no operator can ever complain of a lack of choice.

You can often tell a lot about a foodservice business by the labels and logos that adorn the stainless steel in its kitchen, but it is never completely conclusive. For every item of equipment purchased on the basis of price, size or functionality, there is another purchased on recommendation or because of past experience or a personal relationship.

The adage that ‘you get what you pay for’ is frequently heard in this market. There are always exceptions, but on the sliding scale of catering equipment pricing, I think you’d expect something with a higher price tag to have greater perceived and actual quality — and a longer shelf life — than something at the other end of the spectrum. If it doesn’t, then it’s unlikely to justify its premium for very long.

The industry, and indeed the technology, has moved on considerably in the last few years, but operators still largely fall into two camps: those consciously investing in higher specification kit that they believe will last longer (perhaps five to seven years, or more), require less maintenance over its lifetime and deliver the exact output they need. And those that are buying less expensive kit on the premise it will still do a job, doesn’t command a large initial capital outlay and they can hammer it into the ground and replace it within a year or two rather than shelling out on repairs.

There is, admittedly, a ‘mid-range’ middle ground that I am choosing to ignore here, but if you’re looking for a snapshot of buying behaviour then I think ‘polarised’ sums it up pretty well.

And so back to the point I started with: there’s no such thing as a bad piece of catering equipment these days. It all just depends on your criteria and expectations.

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