Although it probably wouldn’t surprise you to hear the UK foodservice market described as an industry that buys mainly on price, it has always felt as though there is an expectation from within the supplier community that this will change in future.
Whether this is misguided, or at best hopeful, only time will tell. There is no doubt, however, that the cost differential between the most efficient and least efficient performing kit has reduced in recent years, although not to the extent that it’s now a foregone conclusion for operators to choose the former.
Indeed, a report published by Hoshizaki recently claims that 50% of operators regard price as a primary consideration when purchasing equipment. And while it’s not the only factor, it is certainly the one that is most commonly cited.
“We do look at how sustainable products are, but we find it difficult because of the cost,” said one caterer who was interviewed for the report, explaining that price remains the main barrier to the uptake of more sustainable equipment as far as his organisation is concerned.
It is a stance that many suppliers will have heard time and time again.
One of the most prominent recurring themes among operators is that the capital expenditure budget is rigidly fixed, or the person responsible for buying the equipment isn’t the one paying for the running costs of it.
Some suppliers suggest extreme measures might need to be taken before true change is implemented. Perhaps we will see a future where operators charge their catering equipment using centralised power banks, doing it overnight when the cost and demand for electricity is lower.
Or maybe stipulations will be placed on energy consumption so that power usage is linked to the number of covers a restaurant serves or the size of its business, with tax breaks for those that do not exceed their limit.
Two years ago, when an identical question about purchasing priorities was put to buyers for a similar report, 56% said price was the main factor.
The latest results at least suggest a shift in mindset is underway.
Whether it will be as fast as suppliers hope – especially with Brexit negotiations so uncertain – is another debate altogether.