Prime cooking equipment still remains the heartbeat of traditional commercial kitchens and generally the biggest equipment cost of any new-build or refurb. With that in mind, FEJ canvassed the market’s cooking leaders for their view on the biggest trends defining the market in 2019 and beyond.
1. Outlast trends with heavy duty equipment
Chefs need to bear in mind that heavy duty equipment is built to last, so it is likely to still be in use long after a particular trend has been and gone, says Shaun Hall, product development chef at Falcon Foodservice Equipment.
While aesthetics may also be a key consideration in many purchasing decisions, restaurant owners need to take into account the equipment’s performance and reliability.
“Customers are conscious of costs, efficiencies, space and capabilities of equipment. All these considerations are driving their purchasing decisions. However, it is still very important to have access to excellent customer service and technical support, so these must be factored in to the buying criteria and balanced against the price,” he says.
2. Workhorse appliances need reliable back-up
It is important that caterers purchase equipment backed by a full warranty and after-sales support to ensure peace of mind and reduce downtime, insists Mark Hogan, commercial director of FEM. “Make sure that spare parts are readily available and check the warranty. With kitchens using the same few pieces of equipment for several menu items, all-day-long, the emphasis is on reliable, long-lasting and hard-wearing appliances.
3. Space no longer has to be a barrier
Pressure to keep within capital budget is significantly shaping prime equipment purchasing decisions, particularly within small-medium scale facilities where finances tend to be tighter. However, thanks to a wider range of more affordable yet efficient models now entering the market, an increasing number of operators are looking to purchase small multi-functional prime cooking units such as mini combi ovens.
Cooking manufacturer Welbilt, for example, has worked with customers to develop the Convotherm Mini, which has a width of just 51.5 cm. “Thanks to its ingenious design, the Convotherm Mini is able to fit in any sized kitchen while offering an amazingly voluminous cooking chamber for efficient cooking processes,” says Steve Hemsil, sales director for the UK & Ireland at Welbilt. “The Convotherm Mini not only appeals to operators that face strict purchase budgets, but to operators looking for a simplified, compact cooking solution. With minimal energy consumption and maximum performance, users are able to roast, grill, steam, bake, regenerate and more by the touch of the screen with the Convotherm Mini.”
4. Increase in CPUs to impact cooking equipment purchases
Food delivery continues to reshape the restaurant landscape and that will also impact the purchase of prime cooking equipment. “There will be a definitive move by outlets towards central production unit (CPU) kitchens to support delivery services such as Deliveroo and Just Eat,” predicts Helen Applewhite, marketing manager at Lincat. “These are more efficient for multi-site operations and offer better control of recipes and quality. Items such as our Opus 800 series clam griddles and bratt pans, due to their high output and versatility, will be ideal for CPUs.”
The food-to-go market is growing and expanding into new areas, with multi-site garages and convenience stores now offering hot food to take away. Lincat foresees an increase in equipment such as merchandisers, for attractive display, as well as pizza ovens and easy-to-use equipment that offers versatility such as Cibo, its newly-launched high-speed oven which can produce a wide range of perfectly-cooked food in less than three minutes.
5. Multifunctional equipment offers multiple prime perks
Multifunctional equipment is the best way to get the most out of both your space and money, suggests Donald Reid, sales manager at Moffat Catering Equipment. “The more a piece of kit is used, the better value the initial investment becomes. Also, any equipment standing idle is taking up valuable floor space. Multifunctional regen ovens are essential pieces of equipment for large kitchens looking to maximise the efficiency of their available space.”
Rational is another brand that is passionate about he benefits that multifunctional equipment can deliver. Graham Kille, technical sales director at Rational, says that reductions in food wastage, labour and energy costs make a huge difference to the lifetime running cost of equipment.
“Multifunctional equipment takes up less space in the kitchen than a bank of separate appliances, which means a smaller kitchen footprint and savings on extraction systems and overall running costs. The VarioCookingCenter achieves energy savings of up to 40% compared to conventional cooking appliances and cooks up to four times faster.”
6. Cautious climate powers energy message
The current cautious economic climate appears to be driving interest in energy efficient equipment such as induction and it’s easy to see why, says Nick McDonald, commercial director at Rexmartins. “Though the initial purchase price is likely to be higher, buyers are considering the significant savings that can be made on fuel bills as part of a whole life-cost calculation. Concern for the environment is driving new product development in prime cooking equipment, which in turn is shaping purchasing decisions.
“The development and adoption of induction technology is a great example. Induction hob tops are now mainstream, but energy-saving induction technology is now available in a far wider range of catering equipment including fryers, griddles, pasta cookers, boiling pans, bratt pans, steamers and specialist equipment such as wok cookers and teppanyaki griddles for oriental cuisine.”
Richard Ebbs, commercial and marketing director at Synergy Grill, agrees that increasing energy costs have the greatest potential to drive changes within the prime cooking equipment market in the foreseeable future. “This potential for change, which is already underway within the foodservice industry, is largely driven by a strong shift in purchase attitudes and knowledge surrounding the economic and environmental benefits of switching to sustainable equipment,” he comments.
“At Synergy Grill Technology, we pride ourselves as being leaders of this movement having developed a pioneering portfolio of commercial grills which deliver a better quality of food in a clean and green way. We are a brand that has and will continue to drive change within the grilling sector, and we look forward to launching our third generation of grills in the very near future,” adds Ebbs.
7. More operators are taking a trip down electric avenue
Richard Norman, national sales manager at Jestic Foodservice Equipment, which supplies a range of heavy duty kit, says a growing number of operators are specifying electrical equipment and moving away from gas.
“Obviously with gas-powered appliances installation is more involved and then safety-compliant extraction systems are also required which is an additional expense. Electrically-powered equipment is cleaner and technologies like induction hobs will only turn power on when it is in contact with a pan and so offer an energy efficient stove-top cooking solution. Also, in comparison to gas burners, induction hobs produce less heat and so less energy is required to control the temperature in the kitchen.”
Ian Clow, sales director at Charvet, agrees. “I see a continuation of a trend to the more ‘sustainable’ option,” he reflects. “Gas burners, for example, now are more often sold with pan detectors to save energy. Induction is more expensive than gas or electric, but it also saves in the long term and it is now becoming more popular than gas.”
The other trend that has become evident when considering prime cooking equipment is the growth and variety of world cuisine and oriental cooking. As cuisines from around the world continue to dominate the high street, it is vital for many kitchens to be able to incorporate new food trends, innovative cooking methods and exceptional skill into their kitchens.
Jestic distributes cooking suites from Roxinox in the UK and Norman says that these are available with a selection of unique appliances, designed specifically for the varying ethnic cooking needs of many menus. “These include bespoke tempura fryers, dedicated pasta cookers and high-powered salamander grills, ensuring a cooking suite from Rosinox offers exceptional versatility.”
8. Building a kitchen arsenal to exploit new trends
Antony Ward, brand manager at Sous Vide Tools, says that chefs actually appear to be increasing their arsenal of prime cooking equipment in order to keep up with current food trends and as a result they are now much more open to new ideas and concepts than they were a few years ago.
“Something else we have noticed is the move towards mobile and flexible solutions which mean that the equipment can be moved and changed, allowing the kitchen to evolve and adapt alongside the menu,” he says. “The pressure caused by rising food costs also remains a big issue and so any equipment that helps to maintain yield and reduce waste is much sought after. Again, sous vide cooking does this very well.”
9. Trading down on specification is a false economy
When there are doubts around the economy there is inevitably price pressure. But just trading down on price and therefore product specification is a false economy as the operator will almost certainly need to replace the product sooner. Steve Hobbs, director of Grande Cuisine, cites the old adage of ‘buy well, buy once’.
“Buyers tend to fall into two categories: those who buy a cheap product and throw it away when it becomes beyond economical repair, and those who pay more for a quality product that offers greater longevity. What the former fails to take into account is the money spent on repairs — the product is likely to suffer a number of ‘minor’ breakdowns before it finally packs up — and the potential loss of revenue this may cause.
“It is also likely that the quality unit, although more expensive to purchase, will be cheaper to run. The focus on price alone is changing and increasingly lifetime cost and energy efficiency are being considered as operators look more towards striking a balance between capital investment and ongoing operational costs.”
10. Don’t be undone by outdated appliances
Stuart Flint, training and demonstration manager at Electrolux, says it can be tempting during economically challenging times for operators to rein in spend on new cooking equipment and ‘make-do’ with what they have by continuing to use outdated appliances. However, the importance of equipment such as combi ovens — so often the heartbeat of a kitchen — means it is vital that contractors consider the benefits that the latest products can provide.
“There is a wide range of technological options available to those operating in a financially-constrained environment. Features that reduce running costs, and therefore the total cost of ownership, should rank highly on the list of priorities, and can help chefs optimise their kitchen to produce the best possible results,” he says.
Ian Clow at Charvet says the availability of modular equipment gives kitchens complete flexibility these days. “In my experience, chefs and operators still want to cook using a range, as this provides versatility as well as promoting teamwork. Operators might want to add menu items or take some away — the cookline must change to accommodate that so it is vital that cooking modules simply slot in or out, ensuring quick replacement for a change in menu.”