Industry Q&A: Catering for retailers’ foodservice appetite

Restaurant diners

Country Choice is a UK supplier of in-store bakery and retail foodservice products. With more than 30 years’ experience of providing onsite training, equipment and concepts, packaging and point of sale, the company has a firm handle on retail trends. FEJ caught up with concepts development manager, Neil Lindsell, to ask where the market is headed.

What are the key trends that sum up foodservice developments in the retail sector this year? And what sort of demands does this sector have when it comes to kitchens and catering equipment?

Street food is the latest trend and the traditional grab-and-go format is changing to reflect this. While most of the street food markets are still grab-and-go the service style is mostly assisted serve-over, as opposed to traditional grab-and-go, which is almost exclusively geared around pre-packed self-service.

Within certain sectors Italian, Pan Asian, American and Mexican are growing food trends and these can be adapted to grab-and-go formats. Regardless of the delivery method consumers are looking for healthy, good quality products that offer value for money and can be eaten easily while they are on the move. So, as far as equipment and the overall design are concerned, they must be able to facilitate this.

When it comes to restaurant and kitchen design within a retail environment, are there any unique considerations that need to be made?

Many of the issues that need to be considered here are no different to those of a traditional foodservice kitchen with subjects such as the provision of waste, water and electrical services, along with adequate ventilation, being the most common.

The provision of waste, water and electrical services, along with adequate ventilation, are the most common issues”

Taking all of this into consideration we have developed a complete, branded café concept – Kitchen & Co – that allows a retailer to serve coffee and pastries, freshly prepared baguettes and hot food to go, plus a range of internationally inspired meals, but doesn’t require any special power requirements such as 3ph electricity (all the units, including the oven operate on 13amp 1ph supply) or specialist ventilation (the ovens are self-venting). It’s a concept that can be tailored to specific needs – from a large, fully functioning café with eat-in facilities to a much smaller ‘entry level’ operation serving core products to customers on the go.

What is your outlook for 2016 when it comes to the retail sector? What kind of concepts will drive the purchasing of catering equipment within the retail sector and shopping centre environments?

We currently offer three branded grab & go concepts: Tuk-Tuk, Pasta Pronto and Hudson’s and the next two, which will bridge the gap between the existing concepts, are Mexican burritos and Pizza. Pizza is everyone’s favourite and burritos are increasing in popularity and, like the other concepts, share the common ground of street food and grab-and-go.

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