DES I G N & OPERATIONS
G H Q
KEEPING UP THE
Reliable, efficient and flexible equipment is the first step
toward capturing consumers’ taste buds—and dollars.
BY CAROL RADICE
FOR ALL THE TALK ABOU T THE INTEREST IN COOKING AT HOME, the reality is consumers also want choice. If their work schedules are crazy one day or the kids have a late-afternoon event, having the option to pick up a quality meal somewhere other than a fast
food restaurant is highly appealing to many families today.
Increasingly, ready-to-eat options have become a key draw at many
supermarkets, but with the growing number of convenient food choices
available in most markets, the chances of consumers being loyal to one
retail format is iffy at best.
To stay competitive grocers will need more than a diverse prepared
food menu to appeal to shoppers—they will need to meet customers’
need for fast, delicious and healthy meals.
“Consumers like the convenience of ordering food—whether from a
home delivery program like Blue Apron or ordered from restaurants and
delivered with UberEats or other apps,” says Brian Zornes, vice president
of retail sales for Alto-Shaam, based in Menomonee Falls, Wis.
If supermarkets want to stand apart from the competition the first
step is having the right equipment, say industry observers. And for grocers to truly succeed they need equipment that is flexible, observers add.
Mark Pumphret, national sales manager for
Hatco Corp., based in Milwaukee, Wis., says prepared food stations that can change to meet a season
or a day’s need is an invaluable element of a grocer’s
program. “Operators are looking for multi-purpose
equipment that gives them the ability to utilize their
limited space in different ways,” he says.
While versatile equipment makes a big differ-
ence, so too does equipment that enables retailers to
produce the quantity and quality of food needed to tickle shoppers’ taste
buds. Ben Leingang, corporate executive chef for Henny Penny, based in
Eaton, Ohio, says that with consumers purchasing more meals out of the
home than ever before, retailers have to use every skillset in their arsenal
if they hope to go head-to-head with foodservice competitors, discount
grocers and online delivery programs.
“We have never seen more competition for share of stomach coming
from so many new and different competitors than we are today,” says
Leingang. To have a fighting chance, he adds, grocers need to leverage
their unique ability to drive fresh, varied food programs with interesting messaging to an audience that is open to alternatives.
There is also a strong opportunity for grocers to excel in catering.
“Freshly prepared take-home food, catering and delivery are all options
for growth that will require a complement of dependable, f lexible heated
equipment,” says Leingang. “Having the ability to switch gears to react
or to lead your marketplace is going to require the
right back-of-house equipment to do so.”
Along with consumers’ higher nutrition and
culinary knowledge, comes higher expectations
of the prepared foods they eat. “Today’s market is
demanding unique and innovative dining experi-
ences for freshly made and nutritionally conscious
meals, whether dining out, grab and go, picking
up, or preparing at home,” says Markus Glueck,