EXCLUSIVE: Lack of planning forces buyers into impulse equipment purchases, says top caterer

Mike Hanson, head of sustainable business

A failure to properly plan ahead is preventing companies from taking advantage of the latest energy efficient catering equipment and instead forcing them into impulse purchases, it has been suggested by one of the country’s biggest caterers.

Yesterday we revealed how 50% of operators blame cost as one of the main reasons for not buying more efficient equipment, but a lack of comparable energy data and whole life costings also remain major factors.

Mike Hanson, head of sustainable business at BaxterStorey, is convinced the conversion to more energy efficient equipment would actually be considerably higher if companies simply took a longer-term approach to the issue, especially in the contract catering space.

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He said: “We work largely in the workplace so often the energy and the equipment is owned by the client, although we can clearly have an influence and advise. I think one of the biggest barriers to buying energy efficient equipment is lack of planning and lack of a strategy from a client perspective. And what tends to happen is that, through lack of planning, we will operate a kitchen and the fridge or the fryer or something will keep breaking down and we’ll keep it getting repaired, and it’ll keep breaking down and we’ll keep getting it repaired. Eventually it will fail, completely.

“Suddenly the client realises actually this is going to be a big issue for service tomorrow unless we can get this sorted out. So they get on the phone and they say, ‘get me a fridge, I don’t care what it is as long as it can be here tomorrow’. And that happens so frequently – that married up with the fact that it needs to fit into the physical footprint of the kitchen.”

Mr Hanson said the situation is further blurred by the fact that in many instances the person specifying or buying the equipment isn’t necessarily the one responsible for the running costs.

“What tends to happen is the budget holder for CAPEX is different to the budget holder for OPEX, so the person who is actually going to spend more money on the fridge now is not going to see the benefit because their budget doesn’t pay for the electricity that comes out the other end.”

If you have the best fridge with the best energy rating but you leave the door open all the time it is not efficient”

Mr Hanson called on manufacturers, resellers and other bodies, such as the British Institute of Facilities Managers, to work more closely than they already do to make clients and buyers understand the need for a plan.

BaxterStorey has had its own success in this area by using the CaterOps software programme, which provides it with a detailed overview of the catering equipment estate at specific sites it works on and calculates when it should be replaced.

“That has really demonstrated the benefit of planning because it gives you an opportunity to say, ‘we are going to have a Williams fridge, for example, and this is our spec, this is what we are going to have in all our businesses’. It gives you a chance to go back to the manufacturer and say, ‘right, in June 2020 I am going to need six fridges, what can you do for me?’, but it also gives you an opportunity to plan for energy efficiency, lowest lifecycle, lowest carbon or whatever your particular driver is.”

Mr Hanson noted that it was also important to reference operating behaviour when discussing energy efficient kitchens. “You can have the best equipment in the world, you can change all the equipment, but that doesn’t mean it is going to be used efficiently. If you have the best fridge with the best energy rating but you leave the door open all the time it is not efficient. Equally, even if you have old equipment you can still use it efficiently, so I think training is absolutely key for existing teams in all of our businesses.”

Tags : BaxterStoreycatering equipmentenergy efficiencysustainability
Andrew Seymour

The author Andrew Seymour


  1. The last paragraph of Mr Hansons article sums up the problem…of wasting energy by inefficient staff. When we design our kitchens and specify the equipment we incorporate a Temperature Monitoring System from Monika which records the equipments temperature and alerts the staff if a freezer/refrigerator door has been left open for too long resulting in loss of temperature.

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