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    At Your Service

    Retail foodservice equipment suppliers are working with grocers to meet consumer demands

    By Bob Ingram

    Foodservice continues to be one of the most popular and in-demand categories of the supermarket, and equipment suppliers are answering the call from retailers to properly outfit their displays as well as preparation areas.

    “In most food retail stores, we continue to see expansion and focus on prepared food departments that include solutions for both fresh and packaged offerings throughout multiple dayparts,” says Cheryl Beach, marketing communications manager at Bridgeton, Mo.-based Hussmann Corp., which makes service and self-service refrigerated and non-refrigerated prep and display merchandisers for fresh and packaged prepared foods.

    Beach notes that Hussmann encourages dialogue with food retail customers, which leads to new innovations, technologies and products.

    “Over the last two years, our specialty products business has introduced three new product families to address shopper behaviors seeking convenient, healthy prepared meals and snacks,” she explains. “The Q Series has an upscale styling that can be configured into a gourmet prepared food department with creative contours, matching counters, curved glass refrigerated merchandisers and non-refrigerated open display cases. Our Isla family offers multiple island configurations that allow the retailer to determine the combination of hot, dry and refrigerated modules that work best for their store. And our Entyce merchandiser is the small-footprint solution for convenient and grab-and-go hot and cold packaged foods.”

    Beach sees key drivers in retail foodservice as ethnic and culturally diverse products, more gourmet enhancement to traditional comfort foods, the incorporation of fresher and healthier fare, and grab-and-go convenience all day long.

    Keep the Pressure On

    Broaster Co., in Beloit, Wis., markets pressure fryers, holding cabinets and deli cases to food retailers. Company President Jay Cipra says the core pressure fryers work especially well in supermarkets, because of the speed of frying, the small footprint and the ability to cook a wide variety of foods.

    “Genuine Broaster Chicken, our hallmark and proprietary product, is our most popular food product among grocers,” he notes. “It is produced in our legendary pressure fryers, and the Broaster 1800 Pressure Fryer is the most popular size machine with grocers.”

    Broaster markets to supermarkets based on ease of setup and expanded profits in the deli section. “Whether the grocer is purchasing a pressure fryer to make their own product or bringing in our branded Genuine Broaster Chicken product, Broaster Co.’s equipment and brands expand sales and drive traffic,” Cipra declares.

    Clean Machine

    At Alto-Shaam, in Menomonee Falls, Wis., Jeff Mote, VP of national accounts — retail, says of the manufacturer of commercial cooking equipment, “As we learn more about grocers’ struggles and challenges in foodservice, we are looking at how we can make improvements in their kitchens.”

    Alto-Shaam launched the CT PROformance line in early 2014 to address the needs of faster cooking, as well as consistent results and labor efficiencies. The new combi-oven line features an intuitive recipe management system that allows each dish to be cooked exactly the same way every time. According to Mote, “We’ve heard from chefs in grocery store delis ... that the oven is so easy to clean, saving them labor. Additionally, our optional automatic grease collection system allows operators to safely extract and dispose of hot grease.”

    Mote sees ready-to-eat meals becoming more prevalent, with placement throughout the store, and further predicts that heated displays and merchandisers will be nearer checkout for impulse buys.

    Ease of Use

    John Bieri, VP of sales, global retail at Troy, Ohio-based Hobart Corp., which offers a wide range of retail foodservice equipment, says, “Our research phase as a part of new product development typically includes both in-depth interviews with retailers and their customers, as well as ongoing observations of processes and interactions.”

    Hobart recently introduced the HTi scale, which boasts an easy-to-use touchscreen for employees, as well as a customer-facing display for promotion of specials, in-store events, or videos and demos. The HTi also helps increase speed and efficiency with enough memory to store thousands of PLUs, and features a processor to rapidly complete item searches.

    Another Hobart addition is the HS9 slicer, which delivers precision slicing, along with unique design features that make it safe and easy to clean.

    Bieri sees more scratch cooking and heritage recipes making their way to supermarkets, observing, “It will be essential that manufacturers design and produce easy-to-use equipment that enables retailers to meet this specific consumer demand while maintaining efficiency and keeping labor costs down.”

    Finer Dining

    Amtekco Industries Inc., in Columbus, Ohio, makes custom heated or refrigerated full-service and self-service displays. Among the supplier’s new offerings are mobile refrigerated or frozen spot merchandisers that can be placed in strategic locations, creating myriad cross-merchandising opportunities.

    “One thing is for sure: Supermarkets are looking more like restaurants as we continue to evolve the marketplace,” emphasizes Mark Hagerty, who’s in charge of new business development at Amtekco. “Many larger supermarket chains are adding actual restaurants within the store footprint.”

    That means even more creative supplier-retailer interaction.

    By Bob Ingram
    • About Bob Ingram

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