Foodservice Equipment & Supplies

APR 2018

Foodservice Equipment & Supplies magazines is an industry resource connecting foodservice operators, equipment and supplies manufacturers and dealers, and facility design consultants.

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94 • FOODSERVICE EQUIPMENT & SUPPLIES • APRIL 2018 market spotlight planning and expansion strategy. With consumer-direct opera- tions, there also are more unknowns and bigger bets placed." In other words, what looks good on paper doesn't necessar- ily translate to a successful business model. "Things like labor look good on a spreadsheet and end up costing more, which tends to be an area where struggles come up," says Thoresen. "The solution is to have a phenomenal business, because if you have strong sales, you can absorb more mistakes." An Uncertain Future Many feel the jury is still out on whether consumer-direct operations work, despite the success of HelloFresh and Blue Apron. While European companies are moving in the direction of vertical acquisition in this space, that's not the case in the U.S. "Internationally, other large companies are getting into the meal delivery program space, so we'll see substantial production kitchens overseas, at least in the short term. Whether international players come into the U.S. remains to be seen," says Schatzberg who, along with partner Todd Millman, started Green Summit, a New York-based kitchen-only concept that used third-party delivery companies like GrubHub to get its food to customers. Green Summit grew to multiple locations and more than $10 million in annual sales before closing. Its success and failure simul- taneously tells of the potential and pitfalls for consumer- direct operations and the need for the players to iron out the kinks in their business models. "We were pioneers in this space with respect to building an underground kitchen that had no retail presence," says Schatzberg. "The whole idea was to take advantage of Grub- hub's consumer reach and captive audience. Instead of spend- ing marketing dollars on customer acquisitions, we were paying Grubhub 17 percent commission on every order." With so many short-term successes and big failures, particularly with meal kit programs, there's arguably much to be done to ensure profitability. "Consumer-direct operations make sense if the volume is there, since there is so much vari- ability and low margin in the food space," says Thoresen at Technomic. "Unit economics are the hardest thing for these emerging companies to get right." Hot Food Holding Cabinets ● The heat systems and the different size trays or pans the equipment will hold typically serves as a differentiating factor for hot food holding units. Most manufacturers either have a top- mounted or bottom-mounted heat system, which consists of a heating element and, depending on the manufacturer, some type of air movement inside the cabinet. Units usually feature an option for humidity control to help improve holding conditions for foods more prone to drying out while being held. Heating systems include convected air with fan-driven circulation, radiant heat with no mechanical air movement and humidity control systems with thermostatically controlled air temperatures from ambient up to 200 degrees F and humid- ity generated from ambient to 95 RH. ● Temperature adjustment and display controls come standard with most units. Most cabinets include thermometer and operational range thermostats that go from 90 degrees F to 190 degrees F. Some manufacturers provide an infinite thermostat, which has settings from low to high or one to nine. ● The biggest advancements with heated cabinets have been the ability to regulate temperature and humidity levels very accu- rately. Current hot cabinets utilize more precise controls and provide a more accurate food environment. Systems are available for HAACP programs to automatically generate tempera- ture histories of both the food items and the air. ● Insulated cabinets and those configured to hold foods at higher temperatures can keep products out of 'food risk' zones for longer time periods. Foods must be maintained above 141 degrees F for proper food safety. Operators will often set the internal cabinet temperatures about 10 degrees higher than the desired internal food to compensate for door openings and heat loss during stan- dard daily business. Operators should never load raw meats/foods into hot cabinets to cook. They are not designed for cooking or rethermalization of precooked foods. Refrigerated Display Cases ● It's important to note that this equipment keeps cold food cold but does not pull down warm food to safe holding temperatures. Refrigerated display units should hold prod- uct between 33 degrees F and 41 degrees F. Failure to do so compromises food safety. ● Open air, glass door, countertop bakery and deli merchandisers feature either remote or self-contained refrigeration systems, depending on the unit. ● This equipment can range from small, refrigerated pie cases that mount to a wall to grab-and-go merchandisers to curved glass display cases. Sizes vary, but typically glass door cases measure 27, 30, 52 or 78 inches wide; open air cases are 27, 30, 52 or 78 inches wide; bakery/deli cases measure 50, 59 or 77 inches wide and countertop displays measure 24 inches wide. ● The type of unit needed depends on the application. Unpackaged foods must be displayed in a closed display and served by an attendant, while packaged foods can be offered for customer self-service in open-front displays. Product shelf life also can help determine which type of case will work best in an operation. For example, unpackaged food displayed in a closed display is exposed to cold air blowing inside the display or heat from the internal lights inside a non-refrigerated display, which can cause food to dry out. ● Significant advancements have been made in refrigeration systems that operate on less energy than previous designs. These systems can save operators hundreds of dollars in annual electricity expenses and are proven to exceed daily energy consumption standards established by the Department of Energy. Procuring Equipment for Consumer-Direct Operations

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