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Business Profile : Ma’Plucker

The Deep South has arrived in London, and with its clean and modern décor, Ma’Plucker is not your typical chicken shop.

Situated on the aptly named Beak Street (we see what you did there Ma’Plucker!) this fun-filled concept is a breath of fresh air and doesn’t take itself too seriously.  In fact, their website sums up this brand perfectly, with humour aplenty, Ma’Plucker is providing a boost to the fast food market. 

Offering an array of menu items, inspired by America’s Southern states, they specialise in 3-way chicken.  They also offer fully customisable gourmet burgers, consisting of a selection of chicken paired with American inspired sauces, from chilli to maple.

We speak to Michelle Moreno, Brand Director of Ma’Plucker.

So how did it all begin?

We created the brand several years ago and a couple years before we found the right site.  We wanted to do a ‘cool chicken shop’ but the market was saturated with burger restaurants.  We thought that there was a space in the market for a chicken concept, at the time there were many.

What experience do you have in the industry, what did you do before Ma’Plucker?

I have worked in restaurants from fast casual to upscale for the last 20 years.  I have luckily been able to work in London, Europe, India and the Middle East and have often worked with American owners, so have a good understanding of different markets

Location is paramount, so what made you choose yours?

Ma’Plucker is a very quirky and fun concept so we felt Soho is the best fit for our concept, well placed for a quick bite at lunch or an after work cocktail and dinner as well as weekend leisurely brunches.

What is your favourite item on the menu and your biggest seller?

Our signature Buttermilk Dipped Chicken and Halloumi Bun with crisp lettuce and deliciously creamy Ma’s slaw. The combination of fried chicken and halloumi is just irresistible.

The menu is designed for guests to build their own 3-way chicken, not only three types of chicken but also three accompaniments. Our biggest seller is the combination of our juicy and crispy buttermilk dipped chicken on a delicious maple waffle with some maple syrup drizzled on top of it.

What is the best customer feedback you have ever received?

This was from a southern American customer, so an expert in our type of food, mentioning that it was absolutely the best fried chicken he ever had. Coming from an American this was very pleasant feedback. He has since then turned into a very loyal customer which is the best feedback we could get.

What new menu items have you introduced recently or are planning to release?

Yes, we are introducing ‘Let’s do afternoon tea’ and the ‘Jack Daniels collaboration’

What is your biggest achievement so far?

We have won the Observer Food Monthly Award in 2016, which we are very proud of.

What difficulties (if any) have you overcome?

The architecture in SoHo’s old buildings!  You have to make modern businesses work in small and old buildings.

What do you see changing in the fast casual/ QSR industry?

It will become more stylish in brand, become wider in offering in niche offers and grow even more.  I don’t think sector will at all slow down, it’ll just get more competitive and the market will demand quality.

What plans do you have in terms of growth and what does the future hold?

We are looking to open a second site in London very soon.  We would love to grow the Ma’Plucker brand, not just in London but in the Middle East also.
Currently we employ one General Managers, two Assistant Managers, three Front of House and five Back of House members. We are looking to expand our team with a second site opening soon!


Tuesday, 1st August, 2017


Hailed as the most important meal of the day, eating habits surrounding the morning meal are changing, average spend is up from £7.31 in 2015 to £10.09 in 2016 and busy lifestyles are continuing to drive growth in this lucrative market.

However, despite the increase in average spend the frequency in which people are choosing to eat their breakfast out of home (OOH) is falling, leading to a significant drop in estimated spend from £76 million in 2015 to just £20 million in 2016, a loss of £56 million. 

According to data collected by purchasing company Beacon, just 4% of people are choosing to eat breakfast OOH on a daily basis, compared to 11% in 2015.  Therefore QSRs need to reconsider their breakfast options and encourage customers to eat out at this potentially profitable time of day.

Paul Connelly, Beacons Managing Director, said “These new figures show a behaviour change at breakfast, where consumers are spending more, but eating out less.  This highlights the potential impact that inflationary pressures in the foodservice market are having on the hospitality industry.”

In fact, according to research from global information company The NPD Group, consumers have started to drop more expensive dinner occasions such as lunch, which is down nearly 3% in visit terms.  However breakfast appears to be taking up the slack with faster growth since the referendum than before.

NPD UK director of foodservice, Cyril Lavenant, said he expected breakfast to continue to grow faster than lunch, but not to the same extent.  He explained “I think breakfast will still outpace lunch because it is cheaper.”

“Consumers are likely to cut back on their lunch spend given the current economic uncertainty, whereas breakfast is still affordable.  The channel that is seeing the benefit of this trend is bakery because these outlets concentrate on these two dayparts.”

So how can this shortfall be rectified?

Busy lifestyles continue to drive breakfast out of home according to Phillipa Norton, OOH Marketing Manager, New York Bakery Company.  She adds “However customers wishing to treat themselves is still the primary reason for OOH breakfast visits, in the first quarter of 2017.” 

“The next most common reason was its role as part of a regular routine or on a work based journey.  This demonstrates how important it is that operators include affordable breakfast favourites as well as more indulgent breakfasts.”

Offering breakfast to go seems the most viable option for outlets; rejuvenating menus to cater for the time poor is becoming an industry standard. 

QSRs and food-to-go outlets are upping the focus on breakfast.  For example food-to-go bakery specialist Greggs, has seen an increase in profits of 7%, in part due to their breakfast offering.  Costa (who have recently announced YoY profits of 8.7%) have also appreciated the significance of breakfasts ‘add on spend’, by offering a hot breakfast item for an additional £1.  Additionally, global coffee chain Starbucks also upped their game, offering a greater selection of breakfast items to their already plentiful range.  Salmon bagels and spinach and scrambled egg boxes offer luxurious ingredients to the consumer on the go. 

Focusing on luxurious menu items is one way to encourage footfall in the morning.  Tom Noonan, Senior Brand Manager for DaVinci Gourmet, explains “Consumers are becoming increasingly discerning in their purchases so capitalising on the desire to try new flavours is important.  Consumers consistently report that they want to indulge, especially when OOH.”

“Kantar research has shown that 60% of consumers want to try new drinks every 60 days, so operators should look to create a constantly changing menu to take advantage of this demand.”

Global fast food front-runner McDonalds has firmly established itself as a leader in quick, on-the-go breakfasts.  The creation of their ‘all day breakfast’ in the USA saw the fast food giant’s revenue and profits boosted during this year’s first quarter.  Amid increasing competition from rivals and lowering grocery costs, the chain out-performed expectation and saw sales increase by 1.7% as they attempted to bolster economic concerns. 

With the popularity of brunch occasions flourishing, the opportunities that lie in the extension of the breakfast period are huge.  Operators that lengthen service times and adjust menu choices accordingly at this time of day could also see sales rise.

Healthy and ‘Free-From’ options

Secondly, healthier choices and an increase in foodies have meant that breakfast also needs to adapt to changing diets and health concerns.  An increasing number of outlets are incorporating a healthy option or free-from menu into their offerings and this seems to be going down well with consumers. 

Tom Mercer of MOMA foods explains “There has been a backlash against faddy diets more recently which used to encourage skipping breakfast as a ‘health benefit’.  However, more nutritionists and public figures are speaking out about the benefits of eating breakfast.”

“We are also seeing more variety of healthier and more balanced breakfast options that fit into our evermore hectic lifestyles.”

Kara Foodservice stress the growing need for vendors to offer a gluten free breakfast option on their menu, especially with the emergence of millennials as an influential demographic in this market.  They state that millennials are a key customer at breakfast and with 40% of millennials now avoiding gluten as a lifestyle choice, not just a medical one, it is important for vendors to recognise the growing need to offer gluten-free options.

Kara Marketing Manager, Jane Deegan explains “Research has shown that the catering industry is missing out on an estimated 100 million a year by not catering for people with coeliac disease; demand is high as it now affects 1 in 100 people in the UK.”

“There is a great opportunity for OOH vendors to capitalise on this growing market and expand their breakfast offerings; 74% of people stated that they would eat out every two weeks if more gluten-free options were available.”

Also hitting the headlines are healthier alternatives such as avocado toast and ‘cloud’ bread.  However temperamental their popularity may be, these unusual choices show that consumers increasingly reach for trends to lead their choices, particularly if these choices are healthy ones.  Outlets need to remain aware of these faddy foods and be prepared to offer them, then subsequently drop them, when interest falls.

However, traditional healthy options are still thriving.  According to research by Mintel (2017) ‘plant-power’ is flourishing and vegetables are still seen as the ultimate health food.  Mintel say this is predominantly because consumers are still finding it difficult to reach their recommended daily fruit and veg intake.  Offering juices and smoothies is an easy way to provide nutrient dense breakfast options. 

With consumers flocking to try vegetable based ‘detox’ juices and coconut water, there is evidence however that some fruit juices are losing their appeal.  In part, this could be due to reports claiming some juices contain more sugar than fizzy drinks.  In fact, according to the Brazilian Association of Citrus Exporters (CitrusBR) from 2012 to 2015 orange juice consumption did fall by 100 million litres while coconut water rose by 80 million. 

Of course, the new sugar Tax unveiled earlier this year has meant that sugar content is now under the spotlight more than ever.  Remaining at the top of health related news agendas, consumers are now educated in this field and reduced sugar options are now a staple for outlets wishing to appeal to those seeking healthy choices and critically, families with young children. 

Beverages driving sales

Not only are cold drinks pushing sales, hot beverages continue to be the driving force of this day part.  Without a doubt hot beverage consumption, tea especially, is at its most frequent at breakfast.  According to research by Tetley, this category contributed a huge 3.4 billion in OOH sales during 2016 with 42% of people choosing it as their favourite hot drink.

Tetley also found that 18% of all breakfast occasions involve tea, while its rival coffee has seen a 4% decline in consumption during this day part.  Tea is a key source of revenue for operators and any breakfast or brunch menu would be incomplete without the correct range of teas on offer. 

Senior Brand Manager for Tetley, Marshall Kingston commented “Insight shows that consumers are more likely to drink tea with breakfast than any other hot beverage.  Catering to consumers’ needs in the morning period is essential to operators looking to capitalise on the growing breakfast market.”

“With 53% of consumers indicating they would spend more on a premium tea, operators should enhance their customer’s morning experience by offering a range of tea blends that stand apart from those they enjoy at home with exciting flavours and food pairings on the menu.”

With innovation in this category growing, hot and cold breakfast beverages are the perfect on-the-go breakfast item, great for encouraging increased spend at this day-part. 

According to Tim Noonan of DaVinci Gourmet, teas biggest rival, coffee, is one of the biggest drink categories OOH and is driven mainly by consumers’ increasingly explorative tastes.  He explains “Across the UK, many consumers want to enjoy coffee without its natural bitterness, especially younger people and as a result look for a sweeter taste.”

“Introducing the option of flavour combinations to a speciality beverage offer is essential for those operators looking to keep up with the trends.”
Research by Beacon indicated that 25% of people say speciality coffees were their favourite, and 15% said instant coffee topped their list.  However with coffee prices seeing increases of up to 4.9% this year due to market instability, opportunities to innovate in the tea market are stronger than ever.

Paul Hodgson of Ringtons Beverages anticipates that the growth of tea and coffee will fuel the food to go sector.  He elaborates; “As we continue to pack more and more into the day, our busy lifestyles mean we are increasingly looking for convenient and time-saving ways to optimise our day.  Food and drink on-the-go is one trend we as a tea and coffee out-of-home supplier are continuing to grow.”

“No breakfast is complete without a proper tea or coffee and we are seeing more and more clients offering take-away drinks in the morning which are sold by the cup or as part of a ‘meal deal’ i.e. as a food item such as a bacon roll and hot drink for a set price point.” 

What is driving the growth in breakfast out-of-home?

“Both health and convenience play a big part in this, with ‘breakfast time’ being regularly cited as the busiest time of the day, especially for families with young children.” Explains Tom Mercer, founder of MOMA foods.

He continues “With Brits now spending longer on their commute, out of home options are in high demand.  Convenience is therefore key and reducing both the time needed for preparation and consumption are important consumer benefits.”

“Consumers’ healthy intentions are strongest at the start of the day, so health trends are particularly salient for the on the go breakfast market. The trend of reducing sugar consumption continues too, as well as an increasing focus on gut health which is making high fibre products like oat based breakfasts, key for future growth.”
Tetley Brand Manager, Marshall Kingston adds “It is no secret that out of home breakfast and brunch sales are booming.”

He continues “The number of breakfast occasions have increased by 8.4% to 1.14 billion year-on-year, according to NPD Crest research growth shows no sign of decline with a rise of 31% in spend at breakfast OOH making the total value of the breakfast time occasion out of home £20.2bn.”

How can businesses tap into the breakfast market and add value to their offering?

Becci Eplett, UK Marketing Manager, Huhtamaki UK, explains “Breakfast has long been considered to be the most important meal of the day, and thanks to the ever increasing variety of food choices which are now available to suit this particular mealtime, it is certainly becoming more modern and appealing.”

“According to our commissioned independent consumer research into food to go consumption within the UK, almost three quarters of consumers (73%) buy food to go at least once a week and breakfast is one of the top meal occasions with nearly half of consumers (43%) opting to eat breakfast on the go.”

She concludes “Bakery items are still one of the most popular food choices with the consumers who stated that they buy breakfast ‘to go’ in the Huhtamaki research. In fact morning cakes and bakery items were the third most popular food type bought.”

Paul Hodgson of Ringtons Beverages believes the lucrative coffee market is booming “The coffee market has been growing steadily for the last few years.  As well as more people buying coffee for the cupboards at home, there has been a significant shift in the number of people enjoying coffee OOH.  In turn, consumer tastes are also becoming more discerning which means food service providers have to be at the top of their game.”

Quality coffee is also a must have, he continues; “In terms of the breakfast hot drinks market, the best method to grow sales is to ensure you have a quality product on offer.  After all, customers will vote with their feet and won’t return to a venue which serves a poor tea or coffee.  To ensure great tea or coffee is on offer, the most important factor is freshness.  Making sure you’re buying a fresh, well grown, prepared and packaged product will ensure quality and in turn keep customers loyal, so research into the best supplier with a proven track service record and quality products is essential.”

“Quick, easy to eat formats that are both healthy and filling are the best way to tap into the market.” Adds Tom. “People want a convenient option that will be nourishing, and leave them feeling satisfied for longer.”

“Also, providing options for different dietary requirement is key. Gluten free and plant based dairy alternative will help maximise incremental sales at breakfast time.”

“Good taste, value and fast service remain the most important factors for breakfast out of home year after year.” Explains Philippa Norton, OOH Marketing Manager at the New York Bakery Company.

“Once these needs are met, it is important to keep customers interested with monthly seasonal specials like new sandwich fillings and new carriers, such as the new Croll , a hybrid product from the New York bakery Co that’s a light pastry, like a croissant, presented in the convenient form of a roll. Croll is perfect for operators wanting to offer consumers something different for breakfast the go.”

With tea remaining a constant in breakfast beverage choice Marshall believes operators should enhance their customers’ breakfast experience to encourage sales, by offering a range of tea blends that stand apart from those they enjoy at home.

He elaborates “Tetley’s envelope range includes blends bursting with natural and intense fruity flavours such as Tetley Green Tea with Mango, which provides a tropical taste explosion to awaken the senses.”

“With berry and lemon flavours being the most popular fruit varieties, the envelope range features a deeply fruity Raspberry and Pomegranate and a zesty Lemon and Ginger.”

Offers are also a great way to add value, as Paul explains; “Items which complement or complete a morning meal are always well received by consumers, so special offers which incorporate a food items such as a bacon roll and a hot drink for a set price tend to be a hit.”

“Offering value for money and a simple ‘pick and mix’ option of food and drink will keep customer numbers up, make service quick for an operator and offer a good return.”

What are the latest breakfast food trends?

As discussed, beverages continue to drive sales when it comes to breakfast, as Paul elaborates “When it comes to hot drinks, tradition still rules at breakfast time, and at Ringtons, we find a classic English Breakfast tea, and a quality cappuccino or latte are the most requested drinks first thing in the morning.” 

“We have also found that coupling a hot beverage with a food item is incredibly popular, a breakfast roll or croissant with a hot drink for a fixed price is always well-received and offers customers great value for money, as well as flexibility and convenience.  In addition, operators achieve a great return on investment with take away coffee costing as little as 22p per cup.”

People are very driven by the taste and quality of their tea according to Adele Ward, Brand Controller for Clipper tea.  She continues; “Traceability is a big priority for consumers, with many favouring ethical brands that are transparent with how and where their products are made.”

“As a company with a long history of ethical tea sourcing and fair trading, Clipper Teas can help venues meet this demand.”

She continues; “The trend for healthier lifestyles is certainly affecting the tea market, which is reflected in the teas being drunk at breakfast time.  Consumers are becoming increasingly aware of how specialised teas can have a big health benefit.”

“Green teas for example, give us a good dose of antioxidants and can have a positive impact on our metabolism, blood pressure and cholesterol levels, among other great benefits to our overall wellbeing.”

Luxurious menu items also continue to appeal to consumers, as Phillipa explains, “On the go breakfast formats continue to grow, with Subway and Starbucks both launching breakfasts featuring poached eggs to go earlier this year.”

“Offering breakfasts that work on the go and perform well if being delivered, will shape future development.  Products that arrive in first class condition through third party delivery services are increasingly sought after.  Bagels are well suited to this because their texture holds well even when holding sauces and salad ingredients.”

MOMA have identified key breakfast trends that continue to push this market forward.  Their research has found that convenient ‘on-the-go’ formats continue to drive sales, as does offering ‘Free-From’ menu items.  Tom explains “This is turning from a trend to mainstream with 54% of the population buying a free from product in the last year (Kantar).”

“Gluten free has become a mainstream trend with dairy free gaining traction too, particularly with younger consumers, as well as a focus on gut health and core nutritional benefits, for example eating more fibre.”

MOMA also have noticed an interest in protein, which they identify as “growing in traction, but still relatively niche.”  Consumers are interested in learning about the benefits of eating enough protein.

Companies such as The Italian Beverage Company have also noted this trend, and offer an alternative to more traditional options.  Ricky Flax, General Manager of the Italian Beverage Company explains; “Operators who can offer a healthy alternative to the traditional fry-up are well placed to maximise the breakfast opportunity.”
“Health conscious consumers in a morning rush often want something to enjoy on the run and opt for fruit based grab and go beverages.  Our new ‘Add a scoop’ nutritional supplements inject a healthy boost to these breakfast time smoothies, shakes, lattes and yoghurts.” 

“This feeds the clean eating trend and allows operators to cater for the growing number of consumers who routinely opt for nutrient packed food options as part of their daily diet.”

“Increasingly customers are looking for healthy and simple food options to go alongside a morning beverage,” agrees Paul.  “Diversifying food menus to include porridge, breakfast biscuits and fruit with a drink will increase versatility and meet market demand with minimal risk to an operator.” 

He adds; “Similarly, more health-conscious meal-deals are very popular and such food can be coupled with decaf tea or coffee, or even fruit and herbal infusions such as camomile or peppermint which are popular due to being caffeine free and having associated health benefits.”

In terms of equipment what does a QSR/Food to go business need to have to ensure they can offer a breakfast menu?

Tom believes that even the most basic of outlets can offer a full and varied breakfast menu, that will cater to the OOH market.  He explains “With lots of products being hand held and ready to eat (e.g. breakfast drinks and bars), even retail units with no food prep equipment can offer a limited range of breakfast products.”
“If hot water is available this opens up to more hot serve options like MOMA instant porridge products.”

“We are seeing a growing number of clients within the food services industry who are focusing on take away options,” begins Paul.  “They are also installing self-service bean-to-cup coffee machines which allow the customer to make premium quality and made-to-order coffees including cappuccinos and lattes at the touch of a button.” 

“Investment in high quality bean-to-cup machines can be high and maintenance costs need to be taken into account but convenience, optimising resource and long-term benefit often outweigh initial output.”

“Such facilities work particularly well at busy breakfast and lunch times and makes it easier for customers to ‘grab and go’, as they can be positioned virtually anywhere.  Staff time is optimised as producing drinks requires minimum staff involvement.” 

What packaging solutions are available to allow operators to cater for the demand for breakfast on-the-go?

Huhtamaki, global specialists in packaging for food and drink, establish that the primary objectives of all food packaging are to preserve and maintain the quality, taste and condition of the contents in a food-safe manner.

For over the counter service in bakeries, serving food in an open tray is convenient for customers buying ready-to-eat options that they can enjoy ‘on the go’.  Huhtamaki offer ‘Taste’ trays which are suitable for hot and cold foods and have been developed very much with over the counter service in mind.

Becci explains “Our small, rectangular size is grease-proof lined, which makes it suitable for bakery items such as freshly baked croissants and other morning pastries.  All sizes feature a scalloped design on one side and an easy grip base to help make eating on-the-go even more convenient.”

“Operators within the fast food and QSR sector are constantly seeking innovation in packaging design with the objectives of improving functionality for an on-the-go society.  There has been growing demand to innovate by ensuring all the materials are responsibly sourced and by looking to facilitate responsible disposal without compromising food safety.”

Demand from cafes, restaurants and caterers to find new and interesting ways to communicate with their customers has led to a high proportion of packaging being custom printed.  Becci elaborates, “This enables brand logos or promotional messages to be prominently displayed on the packaging.  According to research from Huhtamaki; up to 75% of consumers currently buy food-to-go in branded packaging.”

“Packaging which is manufactured responsibly, that is innovative and functionally efficient and that can be disposed of with minimal environmental impact has a very bright future.”

Considering consumers’ busy lifestyle is important when choosing packaging, as Marshall explains; “Catering to these purchase opportunities is essential for operators looking to capitalise on the growing on the go market.”

“The Tetley on the go range has been specially developed for time-pressured and on the move customers, offering a complete solution for efficient takeaway tea service.  On the Go cups reduce fuss, spillages and mess; some of the most common tea to go complaints.”

He concludes “The range prevents this as it includes branded cups with double walls for better insulation, sip-lids and drip-free drawstring tea bags – a complete solution for breakfast tea service.

Of course, with consumers now also looking for new ways to be environmentally responsible, offering product with a minimal environmental footprint is a great way to improve your food-to-go offerings.  Becci explains “All Huhtamaki paper (hot, cold and vending) cups can be recycled (where appropriate facilities exist).  Huhtamaki are a founding member of the Paper Cup Recovery and Recycling Group and are proud to be a member of the Simply Cups recycling scheme.”

“The Simply Cups scheme provides a collection and postal recycling service to aid Foodservice operators within the supply chain to support coffee cup recycling policies and improve environmental credentials.”

“The fibres from our paper cups are extracted and converted into high quality pulp suitable for a variety of uses from luxury papers right through to robust packaging materials.”

What does the future hold for the breakfast sector?

In terms of beverage consumption consumers are becoming savvier and more knowledgeable about how roast, origin, and growing conditions affects the end taste of a coffee.  Ringtons expect this to result in an increase demand for more variety of coffee tastes.  Paul explains “In a similar way to how people now know a lot more about wine, consumers are becoming coffee connoisseurs and the market needs to be prepared for this.  At Ringtons we roast and pack all of our coffee in our own UK factory which allows us to control the full production and deliver fresh coffee to customers within weeks of it being roasted, which also offers greater flexibility to suit our audiences.” 

“As a tea and coffee provider, breakfast-time hot drinks have always been a prominent part of our own sales and we have certainly seen an increase in clients within the quick service restaurant market offering a wider range of breakfast options, a trend we think will only grow in prominence as the food service market diversifies as a whole.”

The breakfast occasion has now extended into brunch and this is an important market for operators to cater for, as Phillipa explains, “Whilst media messaging around the importance of breakfast and fuelling your body for the day ahead have played a part, more choice coupled with new and creative menu ideas are encouraging consumers to eat breakfast or brunch out.  Brunch itself has become a social occasion and this too is driving growth.”

“Offering customers more choice and the ability to customise their breakfast is the key to success. If you look at cities like New York they’re not just offering one bagel with one or two fillings or toppings, customers can choose from numerous bagels and toppings including a variety of flavoured cream cheese and vegan cheese toppings.”

She continues “Indian, South East Asian, Lebanese and American takes on breakfast are becoming more common. It’s also made breakfast more of a treat and an event helping to drive innovation on brunch menus and attract more customers to the breakfast occasion.”

“Operators need to experiment with new textures and flavours.  For example our new Cheese bagels could help to inspire new ideas for breakfast menus - try pairing toasted cheese bagels with Harissa ketchup, bacon and scrambled eggs for a different option that consumers will love.”

Tom can see healthy offerings continuing to open up new opportunities for operators, paving the way for change. “We have seen a resurgence of old favourites being used in innovative ways like nut butters being added to porridge, and yoghurt and oats being used to make overnight oats/Bircher muesli.”

He concludes; “We expect the use of trending health ingredients to continue, with the likes of superfood powders, healthy chocolate spread alternatives, plant-based proteins and charcoal being ones to watch out for.” 

Tuesday, 1st August, 2017

EPoS: The Convenience King

Much more than simply a way of accepting payments, Electronic Point of Sale (EPoS) systems have evolved significantly in the last few years, to provide not only financial accuracy and speed and efficiency but also analytical reports of consumer spending and stock management. These advantages will positively affect your bottom line in numerous ways, including but not limited to, boosting sales and your brand reputation.

Once only accessible to larger businesses an increasing number of smaller businesses are realising the benefits of advanced EPoS systems.  With mobile ordering set to become the ‘next big thing’, half of the battle has been won for smaller operators, as customers come ‘ready equipped’ with most of the tech necessary to take mobile payments already installed on their phones. 

So, what should operators expect from the latest in EPoS technology?  It is little surprise that fast-paced food service establishments require an equally speedy till and payment system in order to meet consumers’ demands.  The latest in EPoS technology offers speed and convenience.  Customers don’t like to queue up when waiting for their food and QSR’s are increasingly signing up to solutions that cater to this.  Table service and kiosks for example provide for scenarios where a customer wishes to take control of the service they receive.  Not only does this please the customer but it also is beneficial to the operator as their staff can concentrate on other equally important things, such as cleanliness and food.

Consumers adapt well to new technologies and expect to have access to the latest methods of payment all of the time.  From advances in mobile payments to the surge in popularity of contactless, consumers demand the latest tech whether they are dining out at their favourite restaurant or picking up a coffee and a bagel in their local delicatessen. 

In fact, buyer expectation is driving innovation both online and offline, therefore businesses need to ‘move with the times or risk losing customer loyalty’.  According to Sage Pay, 90% of consumers say it’s important for businesses to offer a diverse range of payment methods. What’s more, 58% claim they would be ‘more likely to shop somewhere that offered them multiple ways to pay.’  Therefore accepting both cash and card payments from your customer is vital and if bills can also be reconciled with a quick ‘tap’ of a contactless card, then all the better for the consumer. 

Drivers of Change: The rise of the cashless payment

Sage Pay also say that cash is becoming an ‘increasing headache’ for merchants, as dealing with it carries many hidden costs including storing it securely and having to transport and then bank it.  They found that a quarter of organisations say they ‘have been the target of cash theft by a member of staff’, while 34% admit to losing cash due to human error and 56% say they spend up to an hour or more counting and transporting cash to the bank each week. 

According to payments processor Worldpay, which handles 40% of all card transactions in the UK, ‘spending on all forms of contactless systems now accounts for 28% of all non-cash transactions in the UK, with total spend exceeding £10bn for the year in 2016.’ In December alone, Worldpay processed over £1.5bn in contactless payments with shoppers spending an average of £10.39 per transaction.

According to James Frost, CMO, Worldpay UK, who commented in a recent payments report, the fast paced nature of QSRs and food-to-go outlets mean that for a consumer, payment methods on offer can be a ‘deciding factor in where consumers spend their money’.

Frost elaborates; “UK consumer card spending overtook cash for the first time last year, and our own research has found a quarter of UK consumers avoid shops that don’t take cards, while 30% say they only use cash if absolutely necessary.”

“Contactless cards have paved the way for rapid adoption of mobile payment systems, driving investment in infrastructure and familiarity among consumers. Today one in five of us will use the technology at least once a day, rising to a third of people in London.  But as people get more used to paying for goods on their smartphone, mobile’s ability to bridge more effectively across online and offline retail channels will increasingly threaten the future of the traditional payment card.”

“Already more than half of UK shoppers say they’d happily leave their wallet at home and pay for everything on their smartphone instead.”

In fact, Sage Pay research also found that 85% of consumers think that a diverse range of payment methods makes a company appear modern and progressive, ‘with contactless payments, online wallets and mobile payment technology like Apple Pay most likely to make the right impression.’ 

Frost commented; “For today’s digitally driven shoppers, cash has become a relic. It’s easy to see why that’s the case, as innovations like contactless and mobile payments continue to raise the bar in terms of speed, simplicity and convenience. For consumers, being able to pay by which ever method they choose is a minimum requirement of what it means to be a modern retailer.”

Why is having an effective EPoS system essential for food-to-go/quick service restaurant businesses?

“The latest industry statistics show that QSRs are the fastest growing sector in the hospitality industry,” begins Steven Rolfe, Managing Director of pointOne EPoS.  “For restaurants owners who want to stay ahead of the game, an effective EPoS solution is paramount to gaining not just a competitive edge, but also maintaining and growing profit margins.”

“Today, EPoS solutions are not just focused around cash and payment processing.  Many QSRs recognise this fact and are now building their entire operation around their EPoS solution.”

Peter Moore, Chief Executive Officer of Lolly EPoS agrees that the food to go environment is all about speed.  He explains “People want to be served as quickly and efficiently as possible, and having the right system that can support speed will help to attract customers and keep them coming back.” 

Tejal concurs; “We believe that anything that helps a business to bring together a smooth and speedy transaction process is the key to providing your customers with a great experience and improves employee productivity,”

“With speed and efficiency in EPoS, your employees can spend time doing things that will benefit the business and spend time on looking after your customers rather than on the payment process i.e. integrating credit and debit card payments.”

Ben Elliott, Head of Sales, Nobly Point of Sale agrees “For this to be made possible, an effective EPoS system like Nobly POS is necessary. Nobly can help you burn through queues in rush hour quickly but efficiently. It helps you gain the insight you need to increase the average spend per head while allowing you to reward your loyal customers to ensure that they keep buying their daily dose of caffeine from you.”

Operational effectiveness is absolutely mission critical for all and any business operating in the food to go industry, according to Victoria Hatch, Managing Director, mmmLUNCH.  She explains “Effective systems minimise waiting time which (in turn) increases customer satisfaction. It also makes a difference to a business’s bottom line.  Making sure you’re serving as many as people as possible, without compromising your quality of service, means you can serve more people. It’s simple maths.”

She continues “Advances in technology and software are an obvious way to do this. For the food to go industry and quick service restaurants, speed and convenience can be critical driving considerations when it comes to where consumers choose to speed their money.”

“It is essential to provide customers with quick and integrated payment experiences. Apps and mobile phones are offering us new and exciting ways we can pay quickly and conveniently. In 2015 card spending overtook cash for the first time and the industry is seeing a stark increase in customers avoiding retail outlets that don’t offer card payments.”

Tony Franklin, Sales Director at Orbis Tech adds, “There is little margin for error, and therefore an EPoS system that can provide the necessary speed, whilst ensuring the accuracy of taking and fulfilling orders is maintained, is significantly beneficial to quick service and food-to-go operators, as well as their staff.”

He concludes, “Of course, keeping costs under control is also imperative for operators, and within the fast-paced environment of a quick service or food-to-go outlet it is all too easy to accrue unnecessary wastage or other unwanted expenditures. With advanced stock managing and reporting tools often built in, an effective EPoS solution can help to keep these costs under control, whilst providing operators with the needed tools to track and eliminate wastage wherever possible.”

What are the advantages of using EPoS technology?

Replace with: EPoS is known for its ability to speed up all the areas of the business, and streamlining a number of processes.” Begins Ben.

“So using EPoS technology allows the users to focus on other offline areas that may require their attention.”

Remaining at the forefront of advances in technology is vital for any business competing in the saturated food service market, as Steven elaborates. “A modern EPoS system designed to meet the specific needs of your business is now an essential component for improving footfall, reducing queues, tightening stock control, managing staff and maximising profit margins.”

“QSRs who do not implement this technology will struggle to compete as new innovations such as self-service, and advancements in order management applications are set to dominate the industry in the years to come.”

“An effective system should also offer further cloud based back-office support that can be accessed from anywhere,” adds Peter.  “This will help the food to go specialist to reconcile, as well as understand trends such as wastage - anything that directly impacts their bottom line.”

“Having the relevant information in real-time means they can see what is really going on in their business, and therefore adapt accordingly.”

mmmLUNCH recognise the advantages of Mobile Point of Sale (MPoS) and therefore consider all of the latest introductions of payment technologies when developing their software.  Victoria explains “For example, we just started looking at software that allows users of mmmLUNCH to pay for their food using just their mobile phone contract or available phone credit without the need for a debit card or even a bank account,”

“At the busy lunchtime period, speed is of the essence. The quicker a transaction is completed, the more customers you’re able to serve.”

What should food-to-go/quick service restaurant owners look out for when buying new EPoS or till equipment?

According to Sage Pay, a common challenge facing those in this industry is how not to make the payment process an obstacle to good service.  Simplicity in payments is key, so the process becomes seamless and staff can focus instead on food and ambience.  So with simplicity in mind what are the most important things operators should consider when choosing an EPoS system? 

Tejal explains “There are many things owners of food-to-go and quick service restaurants should look out for to help improve their business efficiently and help boost profits including stable hardware, round the clock support services and Cloud back-up systems.”

“A system that is simple and intuitive,” adds Peter. “Given the high staff turnover rates within the hospitality environment, it is vital to have technology in place that can be up and running quickly and effectively. Equally, there shouldn’t be any hidden costs, for example when it comes to an upgrade.”

“Food to go specialists should treat their EPoS provider as a partner, who will work hard to support the business and its potential growth.  Look out for a solution that is hosted in the cloud. They give access to vital performance statistics in real-time and automate some other time consuming activities like stock control.” 

He concludes “Even support tasks, like swapping out equipment, is more efficient as it removes the need and the cost of an on-site engineer.  Paying a premium for the service will undoubtedly reap return - the cheapest option is likely to result in a basic system with limited functionality.”

Victoria agrees “As Director of mmmLUNCH, it is my duty to this industry to recommend, support and encourage business owners to consider the benefits of MPoS. The benefits of how much the technological advances of recent years can be advantageous to the businesses operating within this industry are endless.”

“MPoS reduces queues, increases sales, maximises customer experience and improves customer satisfaction by offering them the freedom to order and pay for their lunch anywhere at any time.  This is beneficial to both the retailer and their customers as technology and software, like mmmLUNCH, is easy to use and simple to integrate as it is a low cost, hassle free solution that requires no additional technology.”

“When making a choice you should recognise that not all EPoS solutions are the same,” advises Steven.  “Investing in the right solution that matches businesses requirements and grows with you will deliver maximum benefits.”

“These include faster processing of customers, therefore shorter queues and more footfall, more control in the business with sophisticated real-time management reporting and remote access.  Also robust staff management scheduling and increased margins as well as better management of costs with intelligent stock control.  Some EPoS solutions also give you the ability to introduce new innovations such as online ordering, kitchen screens and smart phone applications.”

Ben concludes “Purchase a system that is built for QSR. Too many EPoS systems try and do everything and this causes slow, clunky, unfit systems.”

What support is available to businesses who use EPoS & till technology?

“Nobly POS provides its customers with all the support, right from assisting with their switchover and setting everything up for the business, to guiding and helping them any issues they face throughout their journey with us via live chat and phone support,” explains Ben.

He continues; “If your printer stops printing or your cash doesn’t open, when you have a queue out the door, you want somebody on the other end of the phone who can resolve it instantly - you don’t have time to wait”

Like all services the support you receive depends on the level of system you choose and a good EPoS provider will recognise your changing needs, as Peter maintains. “If we see a client not using the system as effectively as they could, then we intervene and offer to provide further support and training, if they need it.”

“At mmmLUNCH, we personally onboard all of our clients to the Vendor Management Platform,” Victoria clarifies.  “We provide a full knowledge base of FAQs and video tutorials and there is always a member of the team available. All good technology and software companies will be the same.”

What are the latest trends in terms of EPoS and till technology?

The biggest trend is integration according to Peter.  He elaborates, “Technology companies are creating seamless offerings at the PoS, which includes reporting, customer relationship management (CRM), loyalty, supplier management and finance.”

“It’s about managing multiple applications on one platform in order to help hospitality providers offer the best service in a competitive marketplace.”

Also essential is the ability to integrate new technologies, as Richard Goodall, Vice president of NCR Hospitality, elaborates, “The ability to integrate new technologies is essential. We no longer call it ‘point of sale’ rather a ‘platform of sale’ with the ability to easily integrate and rapidly deploy new technology.”

“Kiosks, online ordering, mobile payments are all increasingly popular within quick service, but what restaurants don’t want is significant capital investment every time its customers embrace a new way of paying, ordering or engaging. Importantly for this sector, such technologies help to further improve speed of service, but being able to integrate with the EPoS system is critical.”

Steven agrees and believes that incorporating these self-service and cash-less technologies into your business is vital.  “These new technologies integrated with new payment methods such as Apple Pay, will enhance the customer experience and change the way in which QSRs manage their business.”

What future developments can we expect in this market?

EPoS is one area that is constantly evolving and some experts predict it will only be a matter of time before traditional systems become redundant in some retail sectors. For example in some situations current systems won’t be much use in situations where customers expect to be able to buy anywhere and want intervention from assistants only when needed.

Operators looking for ways to streamline their service can look to a good EPoS provider to manage and simplify the day to day running of their business, maintaining a positive experience for their customers.  But how do our experts see technology evolving in order to keep up to date with the expectations of consumers in this fast paced industry? 

“Future developments are going to be digital for example, online ordering and mobile payments.  (Not forgetting) the likes of Deliveroo and Uber EATS etc.” explains Richard. 

“At the centre of all this is the POS system, enabling all orders to be captured and processed while giving the customer that consistent experience across whichever channel they choose to use.”

“From how you order a coffee, to the way you pay for a round, consumer habits are changing,” adds Ben.

“It’s probably way past due that you choose to upgrade to a future proof EPoS solution that will enable you to ride the ever evolving technology wave in the hospitality industry.”

“Nobly Point of Sale is the highest rated hospitality EPoS system in the UK with a 5-star score on TrustPilot.”.

According to a 2016 ICM survey, mobile has had a huge impact on how we buy. Throughout the UK, almost a third (29%) of consumers say they have bought products or services on their mobile phone. Unsurprisingly, this is even more pronounced in the younger generations; a half (49%) of under 44 year olds have bought on their mobile.

Victoria explains “With mobile users making more peer-to-peer payments between friends (using services such as PayPal, and with peer-to-peer Apple Pay coming in the upcoming iOS 11 update due in the autumn) users are expecting electronic payments to also be as quick and integrated into the shopping flow as they are between friends,”

“Your customer doesn’t expect to have to provide their payment details for every transaction you make with them. If they can’t complete the transaction with a single tap, they’ll come away frustrated.  Significant increase in customers adopting Mobile Point of Sale means that this is the single biggest growing tech trend to consider over the next 12 months,”

Victoria concludes, “The use of both NFC and digital wallets are both set to carry on increasing. Apple Pay and Android Pay are monumental in this growth, as to be expected. We feel passionately that business owners should adopt new payment technology as a priority so that outdated payment systems or processes are not harming their business.”

“As payment technologies develop, and as we continue to see a rise in customers utilising mobile and contactless payment more and more, we can also expect to see biometric security rise in popularity,” begins Tony.

“Already an established form of identification within schools and universities, biometric security is more accurate and secure than ever before, providing peace of mind along with unrivalled speed and ease.”

“We can also expect to see an increased focus on personalisation at the point of purchase. The use of promotional signage is already popular, for instance, and it is entirely possible to further personalise offers to the specific customer as they pay for goods.”

“With many customers using loyalty cards and with biometrics becoming more popular, outlets would be able to take advantage of custom offers or promotions that trigger as a person swipes their card or registers their fingerprint. The possibilities here are limited only by the imagination of the operator.”

“The sector is evolving constantly,” summarises Peter.  “I firmly believe we’ll see a huge rise in the adoption of mobile wallets. We live in a mobile and cashless society and wallets support this well,”

“Also, I don’t think it will be too long before food to go specialists use holograms to help support service. Times are changing…”

Tuesday, 1st August, 2017

Gourmet fast food

With the number of fast food establishments soaring and consumers eating out much more frequently, convenient, tasty, fast food is more popular than ever. Alongside traditional fast food offerings of burgers, pizzas and hotdogs, QSR’s are now upping their game and offering consumers improved versions of the classics. Taking the lead from the rise of gourmet fast food, which has taken the casual dining market by storm, fast food as we know it is much more sophisticated.

From burgers with ricotta salata and pickled zucchini, sandwiches featuring chipotle mayo and grilled onion, to hotdogs smothered in longhorn cheddar, refried beans and pickled jalapeños, the gourmet fast food options available to operators are endless. 

The rise of fast casual restaurants offering specialised gourmet food, such as The Gourmet Burger Kitchen, is an indicator of current consumer eating trends.  Five Guys (recently voted the number one fast food provider in the UK), Shake Shack and Smash Burger are some other examples of the rising stars capitalising on the gourmet food industry.  The UK is embracing the ‘posh’ burger and operators can boost their bottom line with more luxurious ingredients, taking the lead from specialist gourmet restaurants.   

Interestingly, despite the popularity of GBK and Smash Burger compared to the broader foodservice market, their outlet numbers pale in comparison. Therefore, despite numerous threats to traditional fast food chains, such as the rise of new operators, changes in consumer behaviour and concerns over health, fast food outlets continue to control and dominate the market.  Industry stalwarts McDonalds, KFC and Burger King for example operate thousands of restaurants between them in the UK alone.

Also, despite data from market research company Mintel (2016) suggesting that 7% of users have switched to gourmet restaurants, as well as the fact that this figure rises to 12% in the 16-34 age bracket (the fast food industry’s most influential demographic), the general instability of the gourmet restaurant market as a whole is worth noting. 

Last month, the Handmade Burger Company entered into administration, as 9 of its 29 outlets were closed.  Also, fellow gourmet burger chain Byron has considered cutting costs by shutting down some of its branches.  Currently with debts of £45 million, this popular burger bar chain could fall victim to some of the factors putting pressure on this sector, such as rising food costs and the introduction of the national living wage, which could raise the income of those on the minimum wage by 10.8%. 
Other gourmet burger outlets to falter under economic strain and changing consumer trends were The Fine Burger Company (which now operates one branch under Prime Burger) and Tootsies.  The latter closed in 2008 and was acquired by The Clapham House Group, a previous owner of The Gourmet Burger Kitchen (now owned by Famous Brands), which is one of the few gourmet chains to continue to experience growth.

However, despite this, casual dining has seen a resurgence as a whole in the UK.  With gourmet burger chains falling into this category, recent data from the NPD Group (May 2017) suggests that casual dining has seen sales increase by 6% to £5.3 billion while visits grew by 4.7%, hitting 520 million visits, an improvement of some 24 million over the previous year. 

According to Jeremy King, CEO and Founder of Attest Market Research, the market as a whole is open to change, he explains, “There are a wealth of new trends and opportunities for continued innovation and growth in the food and drink industry.”

“This is particularly true with more affluent, urban and younger consumers, where trends are evolving faster, with greater values at stake. The winners will be organisations who have the ability to detect, explore and act on each of these evolving consumer needs, at an ever-increasing pace.

“It is time for food and drink companies to start evolving at the same pace as their consumers.”

The price is right

The price difference between a traditional fast food and a gourmet outlet, can be as much as 2x, with gourmet offerings generally using more expensive ingredients.  Therefore, with consumers continuing to spend on eating out at a rate that shows no sign of slowing down, operators who provide additional menu items with a fine dining twist alongside their own traditional options have seen success, capitalising on both the desire for gourmet casual dining and consumer demand for lower priced traditional fast food. 

For example, McDonalds, one of the largest fast food chains in the world, has seen high return from their ‘Signature’ collection, as have Domino’s pizza, who have introduced gourmet pizza options over the last few years.  At the time of the initial release of their ‘Domino’s Gourmet Range’ they confirmed that the range ‘had been specially developed to appeal to a different type of pizza-eater’ who are looking for a ‘lighter pizza with more distinctive flavours, akin to those you might find in a more traditional pizzeria.’
Replicating fine cuisine to sell to consumers less expensively is yet another turning point in the evolution of fast food.  Outlets from street food trucks to QSRs are capitalising on the fact that consumers will always turn to quality food at bargain prices, something that traditional fast food providers can easily deliver. 

Burgers and Hotdogs

The shining lights in the gourmet fast food market are without a doubt burgers and hot dogs.  Both are fully customisable and are the perfect ‘to-go’ option to market to fast food fans.  According to analysts Mintel, the premium burger market now accounts for sales worth more than £3bn a year.

“Consumers see freshly made burgers as the biggest marker of a gourmet burger venue, something that sets them apart, as this is not traditionally offered by fast food venues.” said Kiti Soininen, head of UK food and drink research at Mintel.

“Customisation is also a top expectation for gourmet offerings, in line with a more general demand for knowing what goes into one’s food and the trend for personalisation.”

A reason for their ready inclusion into the gourmet fast food market is that both burgers and hotdogs naturally lend themselves to the inclusion of higher quality ingredients. 

McDonalds, as mentioned, have upped the ante with regards to their burger choices; their signature range have more expensive ingredients and are targeted directly to a more discerning audience.  They have not only elevated the variety of ingredients on offer, but also the packaging, raising it above their more standard offerings.
Not only has the chain championed the gourmet burger, but they have also trialled table service worldwide and even cutlery at their French outlets.  It seems that McDonalds have decided to change the now considerably out-dated perception of ‘class-less’ and ‘unhealthy’ fast food chains. 

According to marketing chief of McDonald’s France, Xavier Royaux, the introduction of cutlery represents an “evolution,” much like the launch of table service (a step into the casual dining market), which is available in a huge 80%  of French McDonald’s, and at an increasing rate throughout the UK. 
Royaux commented “For a long time now we have seen a change in the burger market, a multiplication of offers among these the offers of gourmet burgers, so as a pioneer it is vital we position ourselves.”

The traditional home of fine dining, France is now embracing the fast food concept and in recent years burgers have become very popular.  The market is now worth 9.5 billion Euros (£830 million).  In fact, 75% of French restaurants now offer burgers on their menu and 80% of those restaurants say they have overtaken traditional ‘steak frites’ as the most popular dish.

However, at sometimes more than double the price, how can traditional operators ensure that these more expensive burger options appeal?

According to Tony Owen, Sales and Marketing Director of Rollover Dogs; “There will always be an indulgent side of the market that craves traditional fast food like burgers, pizza, fried chicken and hot dogs.  However, their focus has now shifted to adding higher value.”

“For example, food producers now use brioche rolls, now seen as an industry standard, or are personalising their products with toppings such as blue cheese, gherkins and indulgent sauces.  Therefore, fantastic, over-indulgent presentation is essential.”

Well-known for their exceptional gourmet burgers, Bleecker Burger has managed to remain at the forefront of the gourmet burger scene and has amassed a huge following.  Starting out in street food at Kerb, Streetfeast and the SouthBank Centre, they say that it is this experience that ‘shaped the character of their business.’  In 2015 they opened their first permanent shop (a burger kiosk in Old Spitalfields Market) and the rest as they say, is history. 

Described by some as ‘the best burgers in London’, Bleecker prides themselves on fresh, quality ingredients and their speedy service.  Liam O’Keefe, Brand Manager of Bleecker comments; “We’re making what was traditionally just restaurant quality food accessible with no reservations or dinner tie needed.  People are getting more information than ever on what they’re eating and we’re sitting pretty in the middle.”

Delivery giants

Without a doubt, the rise of delivery services such as Deliveroo and UberEats has increased the popularity of gourmet fast food.  Now, with many outlets offering restaurant quality food, it has never been easier to experience quality fast food in the comfort of your own home.  The option of ordering gourmet food from your favourite takeaway, and plating it up yourself, in the style of a gourmet restaurant is appealing to time poor consumers.

In fact, these delivery services are said to be pushing the gourmet fast food industry further, now even top restaurants offer delivery.  The demand for home delivery of takeaway food grew 10 times faster than for dining out last year, while total visits to restaurants and other dining venues rose by just 1%.  Deliveroo in the last 12 months has partnered with new restaurants weekly, with lulls throughout the day commonplace in the casual dining sector, it seems these restaurants are taking the lead from traditional fast food outlets. 

What role does gourmet fast food play in the food-to-go/quick service restaurant industry?

“Fast no longer equates to inferior and gourmet is increasingly the ‘go to’ option,” explains Monika Linton, Founder of Brindisa. 

“The use of quality ingredients that can be simply and quickly prepared has had a real impact on the industry - in terms of innovation and raising standards.”

Robert Burns, Marketing Controller at Westlers Hotdogs adds, “As consumer palettes are changing, with exotic flavours and ingredients being added to menus all the time, gourmet fast food allows the fast food sector to capitalise on the current trends and make them their own.”

“The food-to-go industry has done a very good job of putting its own stamp on gourmet, using high quality ingredients and exciting flavours but offering them in an easy-to-eat way with a relaxed setting that consumers are really engaged with right now.”

He concludes, “Gourmet also allows the food-to-go industry to tap into another current trend, ‘make it for me’, as more and more consumers are expecting to be able to tailor their meals to their personal tastes, gourmet fast food allows them to do this with a range of products and ingredients that might not necessarily be found in a more traditional outlet.”

“Gourmet fast food has become a huge area of foodservice, served constantly throughout the day with more trends and concepts arising all the time,” Fabien Levet, National Account Manager, Pidy UK explains.

“Previously, offerings may have been limited but now customers can choose anything from sandwiches, snacks and light bites to more substantial hot meals, and all sustaining an exceptional quality. Consumers want plenty of choice including classic comforts, healthy and wholesome options; all made using fresh, quality ingredients.”

He continues, “One of the most crucial elements to succeeding in this market is effective menu planning. Whether an offering features more traditional ‘fast-food’ such as burgers, chips and pizzas or keeps things a little lighter with grab-and-go style sandwiches, wraps, quiches and tarts, flavour, freshness, seasonality and consistency are key to a successful offering.”

Why is gourmet fast food growing in popularity among consumers?

Robert Burns explains, “Gourmet fast food seems to be growing in popularity for a number of reasons. It allows consumers to try a number of foods and ingredients in a casual and relaxed setting, which fits into our increasingly busy lifestyles.”

“We often see our customers having success with menu items that take a classic, high quality product such as Westlers Beechwood Smoked Frankfurters, and personalise them with a number of interesting and vibrant ingredients.”

He adds, “We host a number of serving suggestions on our website for our customers to use in their outlets, including “The Mexican” with Monterey Jack cheese, jalapenos and Westlers Multi Menu chilli con carne, or “The Montecristo”, which features an unusual pairing of Swiss cheese and strawberry jam.”

Gourmet fast food is a convenient and affordable indulgence, explains Monika.  She elaborates, “As a convenient and affordable indulgence, particularly for consumers who want to dine out without spending excessively, gourmet fast food is often responsible for setting new trends.”

“Consumers are looking for inspiring and authentic experiences and this has really driven the evolution of the sector.”

Fabien agrees; “Gourmet fast food has many advantages because it gives consumers the opportunity to try a variety of different types of food, all of which is made quickly, fresh to order with quality ingredients, while also being in a suitable format for eating on-the-go.”

With trends changing in foodservice all the time consumers are also becoming more demanding when it comes to flavour, as well as becoming more receptive to exotic flavours. 

Robert elaborates; “Spice has long been popular with British palates, but is moving into different formats.  Following the recent launch of the Hot Dog Report which suggested that consumers are happy to try hot dogs with different flavourings, particularly spice, Westlers will be launching a number of NPD starting with the Fiery Frankfurter, to capitalise on this demand.”

How can gourmet fast food outlets ensure their business stands out from competitors?

“My advice would be to do one thing really well,” begins Monika.  “We have been serving our world famous roll from Brindisa’s Chorizo Grill at Borough Market since 1999.”

“Featuring five high quality ingredients; spicy chorizo, fresh ciabatta, juicy piquillo peppers, crisp rocket leaves and a dash of Brindisa Arbequina extra virgin olive oil, its enduring popularity is testament to simplicity leading to longevity. Find the right formula, in the right location and customers will happily queue.”

Heather Beattie, Brand Manager for Nisbets Plc, can see an increased demand for grab and go choices as well as an increase in expectation of the quality of fast food.

She explains, “With many consumers now working longer hours and taking shorter lunch breaks, it’s hardly surprising that grab and go choices such as burgers, sandwiches, subs and baguettes have become so popular, but for operators looking to meet the increasing levels of demand without compromising on quality, having the right equipment in situ is essential.”

“As well as offering a wide range of choices and including healthier snack options, if they are to keep up with customer demand operators need to make sure that they can prepare and serve a menu of gourmet grab and go choices quickly, as customers looking for such options often don’t have much time to spare.”

Tony Owen, Sales and Marketing Director of Rollover Dogs adds, “Try not to over complicate your offering.  Stick with the basics, put a twist on it and make it ‘the best’.”

“Rollover has added to its range three gourmet sausages that fit all three of these criteria.  A Meister, Bratwurst and a Kracker German Sausage.”

Putting thought and attention into your menu by carefully choosing ingredients is one way to ensure that your products stand out.  Pidy offer an array of pastry products as an alternative to bread.  Fabien elaborates, “As the global leader in ready-to-fill pastry cases, Pidy manufactures a range of different products that offer a great alternative to standard carriers such as bread.”

“For a lighter yet authentic substitute, why not use one of the products from our choux range to ensure your menu really stands out? An Éclair filled with ham and rocket or Paris Brest with smoked salmon and cream cheese is the perfect ‘eat on the move’ savoury gourmet sandwich roll.”

Westlers have taken the gourmet hot dog concept to the next level, already offering an array of gourmet dogs which they have incorporated their new concept at Exeter based family attraction Crealy Park.

“With customers expecting more and more from their dining experience beyond simply a meal, outlets can capitalise on this and make sure every visit is one to remember and will likely result in repeat visits,” explains Robert.

“We developed the concept of the “Hot Dog Highway”, a place where you can fill up for the road, complete with bespoke POS, which encourages customers to pick from a set gourmet menu or personalise their hot dog to suit their own taste.”

Robert adds “Elevating the humble hot dog into an enaging and fun street-food staple in this way allows Crealy Park to offer their customers something special that appeals to their target audience and allows them to have their dog, just how they like it.”

Heather also notes the trend for ‘different styles of cuisine’ when it comes to grab and go choices, which will appeal to a broader range of customers. 

She explains, “There are some classics that operators should be sure to include in their snack menus such as burgers, sandwiches, subs and baguettes. Creating interesting fillings that are a little different from the usual choices, can be a great way for operators to make their grab and go choices a little more premium.”

“Menu options such as gourmet burgers, with extra decadent toppings for example will prove to be a popular choice. The Menumaster Speed Combination Oven CR853 from Nisbets is perfect for preparing tempting hot snacks such as these as well as vegetarian options.”

Demand from cafes, restaurants and caterers to find new and interesting ways to communicate with their customers has led to a high proportion of packaging being custom printed,” adds Becci Eplett, UK Marketing Manager of Global packaging specialists Huhtamaki.

“Choosing packaging such as Eatwell from Huhtamaki, which can be custom-printed, is a fantastic opportunity to build engagement with consumers, drive sales and generate (social media) publicity.”

“The opportunities for personalisation of packaging are extensive. Huhtamaki’s high quality print capabilities enable the use of detailed and colourful bespoke design on cups and on food containers and a significant proportion of our customers capitalise fully on the opportunities that this presents for their brands.”

“Huhtamaki is witnessing an increasing demand for digitally capable and web-linked design.  In response to this, we have recently launched a product called Adtone which enables a link between thermochromic (heat responsive) labelling on cups and the customer’s or a third party’s web and digital content.”

She concludes, “Packaging which is manufactured responsibly, that is innovative and functionally efficient and that can be disposed of with minimal environmental impact has a very bright future.”

What products are available to ensure that gourmet fast food products are presented at their best and how do you choose what’s right for your business?

Packaging in the food to go market is absolutely vital to get right.  This demand is even more paramount in the world of gourmet; consumers expect a different take on packaging.  Selecting the right packaging can elevate a gourmet burger into something special. 

Becci explains, “The demand for premium quality disposables which suit gourmet fast food has grown over the last few years and have led Huhtamaki to develop an extensive range of products to suit all types of food to help customers to enjoy an authentic street food experience, and serve food in contemporary food containers which allow for handheld eating on-the-go.”

“Packaging has significant importance in the delivery of gourmet fast food.  It must enhance the consumer experience by ensuring that its content is delivered looking and smelling temptingly delicious, at the right temperature and in perfect ‘freshly served’ condition. It should also be easy to open, to eat from and to dispose of responsibly.”

“Created to provide the market with a versatile and comprehensive disposable packaging solution suitable for a wide range of takeaway foods, Eatwell is one of the most extensive ranges available in the UK foodservice market, and is perfectly suited for gourmet fast food concepts; be it an Indonesian Rendang, sticky barbeque pulled pork, dumplings or a burrito.”

“Also, with increasing importance being placed on the provenance of food, local sourcing and farm to plate, consider applying the same prinicples to packaging.  Recent research undertaken by Huhtamaki showed the public’s willingness to support UK manufacturing, with 83%* of consumers wanting caterers to use disposable packaging which is made in the UK.  The ‘Eatwell’ range is made in the UK at Huhtamaki’s Gosport factory.”

Becci concludes, “Of the 68% of consumers who want to see ‘green’ credentials on packaging, 82% want to know if it’s recyclable.”

Ready made and pre-prepared options are also key to offering top quality to customers, every time as Fabien explains. 

“Having a ready made pastry to hand at all times is really helpful for operators who want to produce their own authentic baked goods but simply just don’t have the time to make pastry from scratch each day.”

He continues, “Pidy offer a variety of different products from pastry cases for quiches, sponge sheets for cakes and puff pastry sheets for sausage rolls, offering operators everything they need to create an exceptional selection of gourmet pastry delights. And being ambient products ensures that easy storage and long shelf life is always guaranteed.”

Nisbetts offer many catering solutions which help with the quick service consumers still expect despite the more complicated nature of a gourmet offering.  Heather explains, “An extremely powerful catering solution, the Menumaster will allow the rapid cooking of batches of food up to 15x faster than a convection oven, ensuring customers aren’t kept waiting, even during peak times, meaning it’s ideal for preparing a wide variety of hot snacks.”

“With space often at a premium within most commercial kitchens, multi-purpose pieces of equipment such as this are a great investment. Heavy-duty kit such as high speed combi ovens will allow establishments to roast, bake, steam, and grill and poach all with just one piece of equipment, in hardly any time at all.”

Tony adds, “At the moment over 50 billion is spent eating out of home in the UK.  That number does not seem to be declining and the gourmet fast food market is on trend to capture some of that.”

“If we carry on taking the basics and elevating them to the next level, the fast food market is set for a strong future.”

Tuesday, 1st August, 2017

Talking Tech: CityMunch

Loyalty schemes are big news, more operators are now choosing to offer their customers money off vouchers as a way to encourage new and repeat custom and increase trade in their quieter times. Increasingly operators are using the power of mobile phones to further draw customers in, after all how better to target your customers than through a device that is generally always in hand?

Enter CityMunch, an app that allows customers to log in, enter their location, their food preference and within seconds are given offers and info on their favourite eatery.  The app provides a paperless, free service that uses the online social behaviour of people to its advantage.  Better still this app is controlled by the restaurant, so if they have a lot of empty seats one lunch time a tailored offer can be sent out alerting hungry customers who are looking for a great deal. 

We speak to Rob Lynch founder and CEO of CityMunch, who came up with the idea after a conversation with a friend in the restaurant business over the importance of time in the food industry.  It seemed like there should be a better way of bringing cash-conscious diners to restaurants with spare capacity.  Starting out in renewable energy he always had an underlying passion for food, tech and entrepreneurship, eventually Rob decided he had to act on it, and CityMunch was born!
Tell us more about the beginning of CityMunch….

CityMunch grew out of a conversation with a friend of mine, a restaurateur in London. He had what turned out to be a pretty common problem in the restaurant industry. After the initial excitement around the launch, someone else became flavour of the month, and he was struggling to fill seats on weekday evenings.
At the same time, although vouchers for chain restaurants were everywhere, it seemed like there was a gap in the market - a service which could simply connect independent restaurants to potential customers at times that suit their business strategy.
We connect restaurants and potential diners in real time. Whenever a restaurant is less full than they’d like to be, they can reach into their pocket and instantly publish an offer to nearby consumers. By providing them with a simple calendar of time-specific offers, we allow restaurants to attract customers at times - and on terms - that suit them. 

Like you say, vouchers for chain restaurants saturate the market but what makes CityMunch unique?

Above all else, our focus on time. It’s such a key aspect of restaurant success - how many times they can turn the table in an evening, what times they can afford to offer incentives to consumers, how external events can impact peak demand etc. We offer the flexibility to manage demand throughout the week.

Point number two would be the real-time control that we allow. Queue out the door? No problem - simply de-activate your CityMunch offer in 10 seconds using our merchant-side mobile app. Likewise, if it starts raining, we make it easy to set up an offer and capture the customers willing to brave it.

Lastly, I’d point to our focus on walk-ins. We’re not about bookings, most of our customers are members of the “on-demand” generation, out in town, hungry and looking for a good quality local place to eat in. This makes us very well suited to the quick service, street food and casual markets - great food, but not “fine dining”.

It sounds as if the industry is ready for this unique concept Rob…

All restaurants have quiet periods, but with such high overheads in cities like London - empty seats cost money. That’s where CityMunch comes in. Whenever your difficult periods are - whether it’s Sunday evenings or weekday lunches that you’d like to focus on, we’ll help you create a weekly profile of offers that attracts our foodie audience at times that suit you.

What is the atmosphere like in your office and how many staff do you have?

There are seven of us - four restaurant Relationship Managers, a Marketing Manager, a CTO and myself.

Our offices are based at TechHub in Google’s Campus London – a co-working space full of different start-ups. It’s a collaborative environment that suits us well - many of the companies here have encountered similar roadblocks to the ones we come up against on a daily basis, so we have a natural support network around us. As for the CityMunch team, we’re all very close - probably inevitable given the rollercoaster ride that an early stage tech start-up can be!

We have to do a lot of evangelising. There are a lot of restaurant apps out there, and restaurateurs are incredibly busy people, so it’s a lot of leg work getting our message out. When people understand what we’re doing, they tend to be pretty interested. And our freemium pricing model always helps!

Speaking of the team, what are your ambitions as a company?

We’re in the process of rolling out CityMunch nationally, then it’s a question of taking our message of time flexibility, simplicity and great food abroad. We think there’s scope for CityMunch to take off in all reasonable-sized cities, especially as the street food and quick service markets grow.

There’s a real trend towards new, interesting food that’s driven by stories and personalities, meaning that street food vendors and small indie restaurants are springing up everywhere. They don’t have big marketing budgets to get their message out, and that’s where we can help. This trend will only help our growth.

Lastly Rob, could you describe your first day at CityMunch and since then what was your best day?

The first thing any entrepreneur should do is speak to their market. The first day I remember was walking through the streets of East London on a hot July day in 2015, walking in and chatting to restaurateurs, working out what their problems were and how the CityMunch concept could really help.

And on his best day…..The other day has to be up there - learning from one of our restaurant clients that they’re basing their new city expansion plans on where CityMunch is planning to launch!

That sounds exciting Rob, we can’t wait to see what is next for CityMunch!

Tuesday, 4th July, 2017

Love Thy Burger

Love Thy Burger began when Adem Lacin was left unsatisfied with the burger options available in the UK. Adem and his father Murteza decided to travel across the world to discover the truly best burger recipes, their journey took them from Eastern Europe all the way to the United States of America.

The result is a truly eclectic mix of menu items, ranging from gourmet burgers, offering fillings ranging from haloumi, chilli jam, smoked streaky bacon and buttermilk chicken breast to American style shakes and desserts.  With something also available for those of the vegan persuasion and a comprehensive children’s menu Love Thy Burger has incorporated their love of burgers into a menu for the whole family.                                         

Now open in two locations, Colchester and Ipswich, Love Thy Burger has heralded five star reviews from its customers.  With reviews such as ‘forget McDonalds or Burger King. If you want a proper burger, just go here’ and ‘the tastiest, yummiest burger I have ever eaten’ rolling in Love Thy Burger is currently riding high on its success and even has plans for further expansion.

We speak to owner Adem Lacin and find out more about Love Thy Burger and the secret to their success. 

How did Love Thy Burger Begin?

I spent some time working in London for various management consultancies, before settling into my preferred area, helping restaurant businesses, working for a niche consultancy. My Father has been in catering for over 30 years. With my experience in seeing the up and coming foodservice trends in London, I saw an opportunity to bring the ‘better burger’ to the regions. There were some amazing places popping up all around London, such as Patty & Bun and Hache and when a property became available in my hometown, my father and I had to go for it!

What made you open Love Thy Burger in the location you chose?

Colchester is my hometown. The concept we brought was totally unique to the area. People were selling burgers but there was no-where selling fresh burgers as their core product. The start-up costs were reasonable compared to elsewhere and I really felt the demographic would go for it, if done well.

What experience do you have in the industry, what did you do before Love Thy Burger?

I had very little frontline experience prior to starting Love Thy Burger. I have learnt a lot from my father throughout my journey. I worked for Deloitte Consulting after leaving university and spent a year working for a niche restaurant consultancy. My father has spent his whole working life in the restaurant industry. We brought our complementary skills together, him in the kitchen and my general business experience and knowing what the trends were from my time in London, to create Love Thy Burger.

What is your most popular menu item and which is your personal favourite?

Probably the ‘Big Cheesy Lee’, which our standard Cheeseburger or the ‘Big Smoke’, which has smoked streaky bacon, crispy onion, chipotle mayonnaise and ketchup among other things. There no breakaway favourite though. We’ve set the menu up in a way which tries to cater to all tastes.

My favourite is ‘The Scorchio’ - I love spicy food. The chilli Jam and our homemade spicy sauce combo does it for me. If I’m in a healthier mood, I’ll have the butter milk chicken with some halloumi.

What is the best customer feedback you have ever received?

We regularly get customers coming up to the counter tell us it’s the best burger they’ve ever had. Which is the best part about the job. We get so much great feedback from our customers. We have even had industry professionals tell us they can see us branching out nationally, people asking for franchises and people begging us to open up in their hometown. These are all the best compliments you can ask for.

What new menu items have you introduced recently or are planning to release?

We try to keep the menu as simple as possible. This is how we keep on top of the quality and consistency of our offer. We recently introduced sweet potato fries, by popular demand. We are hoping to introduce a monthly rotating special soon. Customers regularly create their own burger from items on the menu, which were happy to do.

What difficulties (if any) have you overcome and what is your biggest achievement?

Going from one to two branches was a steep learning curve. It meant relinquishing some control and responsibility to our staff. We are still in the process of doing that even more, so that we can look to open another branch. It’s been hard but we have great staff and its pleasing to see the business evolve and to empower the staff.  My biggest achievement was opening our second branch.

What plans do you have in terms of growth of Love Thy Burger?

We are fully self-funded and have plans to grow at a steady pace. We have opened two branches in our first two years and would like another two by the end of 2018. However, we are being really careful that we have everything in place to keep the quality of our offer as we grow and so we won’t expand too quickly.

What do you see changing in the fast casual/ QSR industry?

Big players will be looking outside London even more, with rent and business rate pressures. There will be a bigger and bigger push for fresher, higher quality ingredients. It will start to really become survival of the fittest. I see QSR brands work harder and harder to build their tribe with loyalty schemes and better use of technology to help build that.

What does the future hold for yourself?

For the foreseeable future I will be working to improve and grow Love Thy Burger. There is still lots of work to be done!

Monday, 3rd July, 2017

Ice-Cream, Shakes and Frozen Desserts

Despite a significant shift in consumers towards healthy eating, desserts have managed to reserve a strong hold on the market. Currently this market is worth £391 million and in the last five years has experienced growth of 5.2%. Some of the most popular desserts available today contain ice-cream and on every dessert menu a locally sourced iced treat is seen as the perfect accompaniment to your favourite pud.

Although trends within the ice-cream sector remaining largely the same, as consumers stick to old faithful childhood favourites, it does not necessarily signify that the market is stagnant or devolving.  In fact, quite the opposite, as new twists on old flavours keep the market afloat and profitable.  Ice-cream, generally enjoyed as a summertime treat, is revered by consumers as they seek the luxury of the creamy dessert as a way to relax and unwind after a long day.  Children and young people remain a large part of the ice cream trade’s consumer base and they continue to push sales throughout the year via ice-cream vans and shops located at shopping centres and play areas up and down the country. 

Patisserie quality eclairs and perfectly presented macarons are now a staple in most good cafes, restaurants and tea rooms up and down the country, with retailers increasingly looking to expand their menu choice to appeal to a more fanciful customer.  Delicate sorbets and in-your-face ‘freak-shakes’ all account for the popularity this sector has experienced. Recent well publicised health concerns have not deterred modern consumers still choosing to end their meal with a sweet. 

Health concerns

However, it cannot be ignored that this market does face tough opposition from health and wellness trends, as consumers seem to be more concerned than ever before about cutting back on their sugar and fat consumption.  The £520 million levy on sugar-sweetened drinks made headline news this year as the government attempts to combat childhood obesity.  Could this tax on high sugar drinks impact the future of sugary desserts and snacks? 

In 2016 Unilever introduced a 250 calorie cap on its single serve products in an attempt to combat health concerns surrounding levels of sugar consumption by their younger audience.  Noel Clarke, Brand Building Director for Ice-Cream, Unilever UK & Ireland explained “We have introduced this 250-calorie cap to help make it easier for our consumers to make informed and healthier choices when enjoying their favourite ice creams as part of a balanced lifestyle.  It was important there be no compromise to taste or quality and that’s exactly what we’ve delivered.  Our products will still taste as good as ever.” 

Controversially however, many of the products shrunk to a size that was disproportionate to their cost, for example a small tub of Ben & Jerrys ice-cream was reduced by 33% but it’s price fell to just a 26% difference.  This tactic of ‘shrinkflation’ is not only apparent in ice-cream.  Last year confectionary stalwart Cadbury stopped selling chocolate bars over 250 calories by cutting the weight of its Dairy Milk Bar from 49g to 45g.  Ultimately, by reducing the size of their products they in turn reduce sugar and fat content while still raising their margins. 

Nevertheless, according to Euromonitor concerns regarding childhood obesity do threaten the future of ice-cream and frozen desserts, as purchasing decisions are ultimately affected.  They predict that over the next 5 years ice-cream is expected to see a 6% overall retail volume decline and single portion ice-cream is set to decline by 4%.  However the biggest casualties of this swerve towards healthier options are the larger family sized packs, with bulk dairy ice cream and desserts set to see 2% retail volume decline in 2016. 

An obvious and popular alternative and ice-cream’s biggest competitor is frozen yoghurt. According to research by Mordor Intelligence, Europe, alongside the US, is the sales leader in the frozen yoghurt market, occupying more than 50%.  The largest consumers of frozen yoghurt are aged 18-34 owning probably to their perception that it is healthier than its full-fat ice-cream counterpart.  In the UK frozen-yoghurt is estimated to be worth between £35-40 million and further growth is expected as more and more consumers switch to the healthier version of their favourite treat.


According to IBISWorld’s Ice-Cream Production market research report take home sales have risen 1% to £878.1 million.  This growth is mainly fueled by interest in pricier luxury products.  These products delivered a £17 million growth with chocolate snacks up by £7.7 million thanks to premium single serve market leader Magnum. 

The increase in premium offerings have meant that consumers are now increasingly ‘trading-up’ their ice-cream and frozen desserts as they focus on quality as opposed to quantity.  According to research by Mintel 48%, of all Brits are interested in seeing a wide variety of ice-cream made with high-quality chocolate from premium chocolatiers and cocoa from a specific region.  The popularity of these premium products peaks amongst 16-24 year olds at 57%.  Unilever currently dominates single serve ice-cream and in 2016 it accounted for 52% share of the market, thanks to premium brands such as Magnum, Ben & Jerrys, Cornetto and Carte d’Or, which were the top four selling brands in this market last year. 

With regards to new product development, indulgent, rich flavours such as chocolate and caramel remain the most popular.  In fact chocolate was present in 22% of all new products released in 2015/2016.  Alex Beckett, Global Food and Drink Analyst at Mintel commented “The ongoing popularity of ice cream bars is inspiring ice cream innovators, prompting the rise in chocolate flavours.” Despite recent healthy eating trends Alex still sees a market for these premium products “While health is a booming innovation trend in ice-cream, with dairy and sugar-free launches taking up more freezer space, some brands are going the opposite route and ramping up the indulgent factor.” 

General Mills owned Häagen-Dazs expanded the success of its ice cream stick bars from the convenience channel to grocery retail nationwide and since launch has secured an 8.4% total share of the luxury handheld ice cream sector.  Prior to this, many handheld ice cream formats retailed for under £1 leaving a gap in the market for a more premium product.  They capitalized on increasing consumer demand for luxury products by concentrating their marketing campaign on trend setting millennials via fresh new packaging and a TV campaign, in total a 5 million investment. 

With regards to reports regarding health concerns in the industry Häagen-Dazs found that 47% of shoppers in the 18-34 age group said they had changed their eating habits towards a healthier diet, compared to just 23% of those aged over 55. Over half of young people (52%) also said they planned to improve their eating habits in the coming year.  Arjoon Bose, marketing head for Häagen-Dazs UK and Northern Europe commented that the campaign will serve to cement the idea that ice-cream is a ‘little luxury’ in the hope of bypassing the clean-eating trend. 

Interestingly, the ice cream giant found that despite health concerns from millennials over the last 12 months, they experienced the largest growth with this demographic, proving that they are not as affected by health trends as other age groups.  He continued “Much of the clean eating trend is focused on general health; when it comes to a luxury lifestyle product like ice-cream, it’s largely unaffected.”

This trend for luxury ice-cream has trickled down into the wider market as an increased number of ice-cream producers are seeing the value of luxury and gourmet single serve options.  Scottish ice-cream producers Mackie’s, for example, have established themselves as a top competitor to market leader Unilever as Scotland’s largest seller of premium ice-cream.  The Aberdeenshire firm produces more than 11 million litres of ice-cream each year, with milk from their own cows.  Mackie’s Commercial Director, Stuart Common, explained “People simply care about what is in their food and there is certainly an increased awareness out there about ingredients.” He continued “For that reason we don’t expect this switch towards up-market ice-cream to change or slow down.  Scots will increasingly opt for premium as an affordable luxury.”

Q & A

• Jon Turonnet – Foodservice Sales Manager – Brioche Pasquier
• Michelle Young – Founder – Coolberry
• Aine Melichar -Brand Manager - Kerrymaid
• Christina Veal, Director at New Forest Ice Cream
• Sally Newall- MD- Simply Ice Cream.
• Cesar Roden – Owner - The Ice-Kitchen
• Rob Blunderfield, Marketing Manager, Parsley in Time.

Why do frozen desserts continue to positively impact sales in the food to go/ QSR market?

The last five years have seen this market go from strength to strength, this is despite obvious hurdles such as seasonality.  In fact many high profile ice-cream producers are undergoing rebrands to target a new younger market.

“Ice cream offers the perfect add-on impulse purchase to boost food to go sales” explains Cesar Roden, Owner of The Ice Kitchen, a London based gourmet ice lolly concept, who are currently experiencing huge success in the food-to-go market, via trials in 12 EAT stores.  He continues “It’s the perfect add-on because customers are not buying this instead of something else, but as well as!” 

“Ice cream and frozen desserts (have) become more than an after dinner indulgence, but a snack or menu choice in their own right,” explains Aine Melichar, Brand Manager of Kerrymaid.  She adds “Ice cream and ice cream sundaes increase in popularity as the temperature outside rises and offer a range of sales opportunities for operators.”

“Whether served in cone, cup or glass, there is a profit margin to be made from ice cream and frozen desserts. Ice creams and frozen desserts can be served straight after a meal or for those needing to rush off, they can still enjoy a frozen treat on-the-go. Operators need to create a menu that will entice customers and set their venue apart from others and offering refreshing, summertime treats will be sure to maximise on sales.” Michelle Young, Founder of leading frozen Yoghurt producer, Coolberry agrees “Ice cream and frozen desserts are great products for incremental sales and driving average customer spend.”

“Having a good selection of delicious flavours and promoting an independent manufacturer who produces premium, real dairy ice cream is beneficial and a good generator of extra income.”  Explains Christina Veal, Director of New Forest Ice Cream.  She continues “When consumers visit a food to go outlet, they expect to see quality throughout, including in the ice cream offering.”  It does seem that, premium items have opened up frozen desserts to a new more discerning audience.  They see quality and are therefore willing to pay more. 

“It is important to provide a good range of ice creams because it is often regarded as the lighter dessert of choice for many, hard to resist, especially in the summer months and provides an excellent return for the QSR business.  Equally, ice cream is enjoyed as a refreshing snack when wandering around on a summer’s day.” Christina concludes. 

Why should QSR’s and food-to-go outlets maximise their frozen dessert offerings?

Frozen desserts are the perfect menu item to encourage add on sales.  Increasingly QSR’s and food to go retailers are introducing new frozen desserts to their menus in order to encourage longer visits and create higher spend. 

Sally Newall, Managing Director of Simply Ice-Cream see’s ice-cream as the ultimate grab and go dessert “It’s a luxury, especially Simply Ice Cream which is known for its rich flavourful indulgent texture. It’s a treat you might grab on the way out of the restaurant saying ‘Let’s go down to the beach/pier and eat our ice cream there.’ It’s aspirational, almost a lifestyle choice. You each have single serve tubs of ice cream when you’re at a theatre (grab-and-go), by the beach or simply on your lunchbreak.”

For the grab and go market if you want to offer your customers the opportunity to eat on the go or snack in between main meals, then these are great treats to have on your menu.  They capitalise on the growing all day snacking trend.” adds Michelle.  Cesar agrees and sees further benefits for the vendor “It offers a quick and easy dessert alternative and impulse purchase. Lollies and pre-wrapped ice creams are also appealing as they involve no labour costs.”

Jon adds “They provide chefs with a way of offering their customers great quality, authentic products with the minimum in-house skill and expertise.  Using pre-prepared frozen desserts can offer a considerable time-saving to operators, not just in terms of their preparation, but in terms of the staff training involved with learning how to create them. This means that any member of staff, no matter what their skill set or ability, can prepare and assemble sweet treats whenever required.

He continues “With profit margins being squeezed by increasing produce prices, the necessity for chefs to cut wastage is becoming ever more crucial.  Frozen food helps caterers to keep waste to a minimum with effective portion control and the ability to defrost as footfall becomes apparent.” 
“Frozen products can be kept in the freezer until just hours before they are needed for service – the Brioche Pasquier pâtisserie range defrosts in as little as just an hour at room temperature (depending on the product) – so items can be taken out of the freezer once a better idea of demand can be predicted.”

What should we look out for in the frozen dessert industry?

The recent peak in premium ice-cream sales is extremely exciting for outlets wanting to further strengthen their bottom-line. 

Jon has anticipated the growing trend for luxury in the frozen food market and is keen to express the knock on effect premium products yield.  He explains “Caterers are recognising that in some cases, the best way to provide their customers with top quality dishes is to stock the very best frozen products. This means that chefs can then cut down on their lists of expensive ingredients and high levels of waste.”

“There are certain products that cannot be made fresh every day without the skills of a specialist chef.  This is the undoubtedly the case with premium French pâtisserie – but happily these products can be frozen and then thawed so successfully that the customer can enjoy the finished desserts at their very best, and the chef can be proud to serve something that tastes, looks and feels as though it was made in-house.”

He continues “Pâtisserie is bang on trend and increasingly featured on menus at all times of the day. Classic French favourites such as petit fours, macarons and choux pastries lend sophistication and delicious flavour to food offerings at coffee time and afternoon tea, as well as fitting in perfectly with the trend for mini-desserts.

“Chocolate is still king of the dessert menu. Entremets were one of the breakout trends of 2016 and are still a very fashionable offering. The taste and texture combinations possible with these continental desserts are delicious, and the layering and finish of a beautifully made Entremets is a fine example of the skill of the pastry chef.” concludes Jon.

“Keeping up with consumer trends is extremely important in order to keep your selection fresh and rotating but also to caterer for consumer’s preferences as they change according to different seasons and trends.” begins Christina. “At New Forest Ice Cream, we have a range of specialty flavours, like our Mince Pie ice cream which is the perfect way to tempt customers to opt for ice cream on a cold day with the warming flavours of Christmas.”

She continues “Ice cream is also essential to accompany other desserts that you may want to include on your menu.  Try adding a festive twist to sticky toffee pudding with our Mince Pie ice cream on the side. For summer we recommend plenty of fruity and fresh options like our brand new Lime and Coconut sorbet, a little bit more exotic tasting and lighter in texture but equally full flavoured with a slight tanginess. Our new Berry and Apple Crumble ice cream is one of our most recent innovations, inspired by the classic pudding with all the flavour but combined into ice cream form. Perfect for the summer, ensuring customers can enjoy their favourite dessert all year round. Featuring a fruity apple dairy base combined with real blackberry, apple and strawberry inclusions and irresistible cookie dough crumble, crumble and ice cream is a match made in heaven which is what inspired us to create a flavour that really captures the best of both worlds! The ice cream is packed full of juicy flavour with a lovely crunch from the crumble.” 

New flavours for an adult frozen dessert fans are increasingly appearing on the market as Sally elaborates “There is a real resurgence in alcoholic ice creams.  We spotted the trend back in January when we created an Atholl Brose Ice cream made with whisky, oats and cream which sold out three times over. Since then we’ve seen various cocktail flavours as well as gin and tonic ice creams.” Indeed, gourmet ice-lolly producer The Ice Kitchen has also noticed interest peaking in this market, with alcoholic ices becoming some of their best sellers, as well as more unusual flavours “We have noticed a trend in the ice cream market with a move towards premium and more adult flavours, like Mojito and Iced Coffee - flavours that are indulgent, imaginative and luxurious.” 

Sally also thinks it is time for new and interesting flavours to bring the category back to the taste test ‘rather than lingering too long on the health debate of 2016’.  She elaborates “We have seen the trend of healthy low fat, low calorie and dairy free desserts and ice creams rise in popularity and settle back down to filling a necessary and sought-after niche. But that is what they are, niche.”

“Simply Ice Cream has maintained its popularity through consistency. We have continued to hand-make quality indulgent award-winning ice cream higher than average in cream content and big on flavour. All ingredients are locally sourced (where possible) and our loyal customers know that they are getting a special treat dessert that looks and tastes homemade and luxurious. It isn’t really meant to be eaten every day, it’s an ice cream for a special occasion and it has won many awards.”

“Realistically ice cream is very subjective, everyone likes ice cream but people are usually very discerning about the flavour they choose. From luxury vanilla flavour to mint choc chip to heavenly honeycomb or salted caramel; it is imperative that businesses stock a good range of flavours. In a restaurant if you ask about an item listed as ‘selection of ice creams’ on the menu and discovered the availability extends to the 80’s classics of vanilla, chocolate or strawberry you will undoubtedly move on to the next item on the menu. However, if you are offered Apple Crumble, Strawberries & Cream or Honeycomb your taste buds will be tantalised at the prospect. Ice Cream is about flavour and enjoyment, it’s about luxury and having a little treat. Ice cream isn’t for every day, it’s for sometimes and when you go for it, you want it to be good.”

So, what benefits can vendors see from a carefully selected range of frozen desserts? Christina explains “QSR and food-to-go operators should consider their range carefully with a good balance of flavours to appeal to all customer preferences and all ages by having more original flavours to intrigue customers and ensure your menu stands out. Also having key favourites is sensible for a successful offering.”

Customisable options also look set to gain momentum as Aine Melichar of Kerrymaid explains “Kerrymaid Angelito offers a fantastic base on which to build flavours personalised to individual tastes. Kerrymaid Angelito, which has been loved by consumers for more than 40 years, helps operators generate trust with consumers and drive incremental sales. The delicious creamy taste of Kerrymaid Angelito Ice Cream Mix offers the taste of real Irish dairy with the smooth texture consumers expect. 

“Operators can offer a ‘build your own’ concept – which follows the trend of customisation - by listing a range of sauces, fruit, nuts and chocolate based toppings on menus. Not only perfect for younger customers, but appealing to the whole family and friendship groups.”

What other products can businesses add to their menu to make sure they are keeping up with consumer trends?

“The mini-dessert is one of the biggest growing trends. There are numerous ways of offering mini-desserts which will appeal to customers,” explains Jon. 

• Sharing platters have traditionally been a savoury offering, but sweet sharing platters are ideal for groups at the end of a meal as a pudding alternative, allowing everyone to pick and mix their sweet choices.
• Afternoon tea has made a comeback over recent years and many mini-desserts are perfect additions to the cake stand.
• Those customers who choose to skip a heavy dessert after a meal in favour of a coffee or tea, may be persuaded instead to enjoy a mini-dessert as a small sweet treat to accompany their beverage. 
• At a counter, a selection of different flavours and varieties of small sweet bites can be attractively displayed on tiered cake stands, allowing customers to select a few favourites to accompany their cup of coffee or tea.

He continues “Continental pâtisserie fits this trend perfectly but whilst mini-desserts are becoming increasingly popular, delivering consistently high quality, easy to serve pâtisserie is a tall order for busy kitchens, especially as very few outlets have the luxury of a dedicated pastry chef. The answer is to find premium quality and on trend choice in a frozen product.”

“Our pâtisserie is baked using traditional recipes and methods in France and then frozen immediately, ensuring the freshest taste is guaranteed. The products can then be defrosted quickly and if desired, given a few finishing touches to give the dessert a personalised look,” he concludes. 

Rob notes the growing trend in bespoke ice-creams “Creating specialist ice creams or sorbets on site can offer a point of difference to the dessert offering and enables caterers to adapt flavours to suit customer demand and to invent signature flavours or dishes.”

What products are available to ensure ice cream and frozen desserts are presented at their best and how do you choose what’s right for your business?

Having the best equipment to keep your products at their best to keep up with consumer requests is paramount as Rob Blunderfield, Marketing Manager of Parsley in Time elaborates “The best way for caterers to keep up with consumer trends is to produce ice creams and sorbets on site.

“Easy-to-use ice cream and sorbet machines are becoming increasingly popular as the trend for more unusual flavours takes off. Parsley in Time offers a choice of ice cream and sorbet machines that can enable caterers to produce not only sweet ice creams, but savoury and ‘off the wall’ flavours, too.

He concludes “Caterers should look for ice cream or gelato machines that produce a large quantity and will store it until required, such as the Nemox Gelato Chef 5L Automatic from Parsley in Time, which can process up to 1kg in 20-30 minutes.”

For Michelle it seems keeping it simple is the way to entice customers “For soft scoop there are a range of beautiful freezers that really enhance the display of ice cream and gelatos.  For soft serve there are opportunities to brand machines to make them more attractive and present your proposition clearly in a restaurant or store environment.”

“We have always kept our packaging clean and simple,” begins Sally. “Like our product, our packaging speaks for itself; it is high end, luxurious and understated. In addition to that we have some branded freezers for our customers to use in retail outlets for grab-and-go or delis and farm shop cafes. We find that it is the high end, luxurious deli type customers that go for our freezers.

What does the future hold in regard to ice cream and frozen desserts?

The ice-cream shake is a great way to encourage new customers to try your products.  They are bright, fully-customisable and are really taking off due to their instagrammable appearance.  With their emergence in most cafés up and down the country, their appeal is huge.

Aine seems to think so; “Ice cream shakes in a range of different flavours remain on-trend, and with seemingly endless options it is a trend that shows no signs of slowing. The key to creating a popular shake menu is to allow guests to customise their shakes by offering a wide variety of flavours and toppings. Offering a wide range of choice lets customers be in control whilst also appealing to those with different and unconventional tastes; for example, freak shakes topped with sweets and innovative flavour combinations are on the rise.

Finally “flavours including avocado, cardamom and bourbon caramel are favoured by consumers this year, while further flavour inspiration will be taken from popular cocktails such as Margarita – a mix of lime and tequila flavours to form large, indulgent shakes. Top with whipped Kerrymaid Double for a spectacular showstopper.” 

We anticipate éclairs becoming the next big thing in patisserie.” adds Jon. “Like the macaron and petit fours before it, both of which have become highly fashionable in recent years, the modern éclair is lighter, more intensely flavoured and more genuinely French in style than its recent predecessors.

He concludes “We’ve recently introduced French style éclairs in both standard size and mini-size to cater for the mini desserts trend. Chocolate and coffee are the chic flavours which we believe will be most popular with our customers.”

“The sector is still in growth and shows no sign of slowing down.” adds Michelle.  “Customers always want to treat themselves and ice-cream and frozen desserts offer an affordable treat option.”

Monday, 3rd July, 2017

Promotional Signage

“A business with no sign is a sign of no business” From the second a customer sees your shop frontage, they make a choice. A choice to either walk in or walk away. Therefore, the importance of promotional signage to your business is paramount; simply put, it gives the first impression of your business to prospective consumers. It also establishes communication with your customers, efficiently advertises your business with relatively minimal costs and maintains brand consistency across multiple sites.

QSR’s and food to go outlets are often some of the most eye-catching shop fronts on the high street.  They are also generally bright, modern, inviting and due to intense competition are continuously changing and updating their store fronts and signage to keep competition from other similar outlets at bay. 

Some of the world’s most successful promotional signage comes from hugely successful fast food chains.  From McDonalds to KFC, their clever use of eye-catching logo designs and simple yet effective food packaging is a testament to the effectiveness of good quality brand management through promotional signage.  Of course, sky high advertising budgets are not available to all, therefore the ability to push your brand forward while remaining economical is essential in today’s market. 

Good quality and up-to-date signage is an investment and can ultimately lead to increased sales.  Impactful outer signage can be the difference in whether a person enters your store or not. An over-crowded or unclear message will only confuse a customer and in some cases, may deter them from entering.  Considering your market is a clear way to avoid this error, for example if you are a coffee shop trying to introduce twenty-somethings to your menu, you may want your signage to feature ‘hashtags’ and social media symbols, encouraging them to tweet and share your establishment to similar minded folk. 

Brand exposure is important, therefore putting that little bit extra into your marketing strategies can really pay off in the long term.  In such a competitive market, it is no surprise that brands are constantly generating new campaigns and systems to entice new and repeat custom.  In fact, over 90% of people who shop today make occasional impulse purchases that they didn’t intend to buy initially.  These types of impulse purchases can only be attributed to great internal promotional material. 

Thinking of going digital? 

We live in a technologically minded world, so it is no surprise that businesses turn to this exciting world to promote themselves. Digital signage is becoming more popular due to the adaptability and visual impact it can have.  Increasingly, people want to engage, social media has helped to facilitate this.  It is increasingly apparent that this behaviour is also mirrored in their purchasing decisions.   

The human brain processes visuals 60,000x faster than text

Digital signage can play a huge role in sales and customer involvement, especially across multi-location businesses.  The signage can be operated from a main office and can be altered across every outlet at the touch of a button.  Planned updates can easily be scheduled and adapted to suit current situations, for example seasonal offers at Christmas, meaning that your signage is always up-to-date.

For customers digital signage is the most engaging form of promotion, interestingly the human brain processes visuals 60,000x faster than text* and digital signage captures 400% more views than static displays*.  Introducing digital signage to your business not only engages your consumer base, it also encourages them to spend as according to Digital Signage Today businesses report a 3%-5% average sales uplift with Digital Signage. 

(*Source Embed signage, 2015, Digital Signage Today, 2014) 


Making your business stand out from its rivals is important in the quick service restaurant industry. We speak to the experts to find out what types of signage are available for your business and how to remain cost-effective.   

• Michelle Farsworth - Senior Sales Account Manager - Midwest Displays
• Adrian Kingsland - Sales Director - Tulford Point of Sale
• Tony Franklin - Sales Director -Orbis Tech

Why is promotional signage so important?

“The facilities found within ‘grab and go’ convenience establishments have transformed significantly over recent years, prompted by rising demand and, by extension, higher expectations from consumers.” explains Tony Franklin, Sales Director of Orbis Tech.  “Whilst speed of service and efficient production of food is still paramount for a quick service restaurant, there is also a bourgeoning need to inform customers of any promotional offers, and to ensure that staff are fully aware of any active promotions,”

“Not only do customers expect to find promotional deals, they also actively hunt for them as the cost of eating out increases. Establishments that fail to provide up front and clear information risk compromising the efficiency of their service and at worse can turn a customer’s positive experience into a negative one.”

Adrian Kingsland, Sales Director of Tulford POS adds “Food on the go is often an Impulse purchase – therefore signage needs to be instantly engaging, appetising and easy to read – allowing the consumer to make quick and informed decisions ‘a call to action’ in the case of a pavement sign – helping to drive footfall instore.”

This is a competitive world explains Michelle Farsworth Senior Sales Account Manager of Midwest Displays.  Increasingly so for this type of restaurant it seems “As retailers move out, QSRs often fill up the available space and therefore it is essential that you use all the tools you have available to you to get a competitive advantage.  Great food, good prices, strong branding and signage can help you achieve these.” 

How can you ensure your signage stands out from its rivals?  

Consistency, strong visuals and a sense of humour are three things that spring to Michelle’s mind. “You want to provide a visual feast first so invest in some strong photography or make sure you get it from your suppliers.  Also, ensure you have a consistent look and typography across your signage – it will strengthen the brand & make the restaurant look more professional.”  However, she warns of potential pitfalls to an off the wall approach “Humour can be tricky but look at the market leaders – they are currently using comic, witty or zany approach to much of their marketing. Humour can add interest & get you talked about – but it can also be offensive or just plain not funny so proceed with caution.”

Also important is positioning, as Tony elaborates “Positioning is a key factor for an establishment when looking to utilise promotional signage. Whilst operators may assume that the size of a sign is of the highest importance, outlets that position their signage in well thought out, key locations can benefit more. Using promotional signage as part of an advanced point-of-sale system, for instance, allows outlets to display digital promotions at the till, direct to the customer. This not only ensures maximum exposure, but also ties in the promotion with the buying process, helping to upsell effectively at the point of sale,”

“If such Epos systems are used, which feature customer facing displays, digital promotions can be taken a step further with the use of video. These promotions can be triggered to play at certain times during a transaction, or looped continuously. Not only do video promotions help an establishment stand out, they can also help to draw the attention of a customer more than using images or text, further increasing the opportunity to upsell.” 

Professionally designed, simple, eye-catching graphics are key according to Adrian, who believes in the idea of ‘less is more’ and ‘a picture paints a thousand words’.  He elaborates “(The latter) refers to the notion that a complex idea can be conveyed with just a single still image or that an image of a subject conveys its meaning or essence more effectively than a description does,”
“Well manufactured and printed, A-Boards, pavement signs and café banner systems, all help to relax and subconsciously build consumer trust and desire, ensuring your offers are seen, easily understood and stay looking fresh and relevant for as long as possible.”

What are the latest signage trends and how can businesses incorporate these products?

Walk or drive up and down any busy high street and you will see a plethora of different signs trying to tempt us as consumers, this ‘Visual Noise’ is deafening according to Adrian and he believes this will make customers zone-out.  “It’s only those signs that are out of the ordinary, fun and engaging that are most likely to attract their attention i.e.  Giant coffee cups (Costa Coffee) giant Magnum Lollies (Wall’s Ice Cream) and hot dogs (Rollover). As consumers, we especially love these types of signs – as they are instantly recognisable and engaging,”

“They are also ideal opportunities for a selfie or a fun photo to send to our friends and family, to upload on to social media (such as) Facebook and Instagram.  If those signs (were) branded, it creates a very subtle but effective form of mass advertising,”

“Fun seaside type photo boards are also making something of a renaissance, be it an in-store Halloween promotion at your local Waitrose, or a 99-flake promotion on Skegness seafront.  They are engaging and due to (many) having mobile phones; images quickly find a way onto social media. Bow flags and giant flying banners are a good and less expensive alternative.”

Advancements in Epos technology have brought further opportunities within promotional signage for Orbis Tech, for example they have developed Epos software that when combined with the latest in hardware, allows for bespoke promotions to play at the point of sale.  Tony explains “With our Customer Messaging and Advertising Module a till will play custom messages or display unique promotions dependent on the goods purchased. These promotions can range from slideshows to video, and can be grouped by customer, the time of day or with custom settings designed for the business. A further advantage is the ability to store and use separate images and videos on each till, which allows for further customisation.”

Traditional signage panels, LED signage and digital continue to be in the mix. For example, we’ve developed a 25mm diameter frame for larger panels that have real impact in windows and interiors. They are robust and durable and so provide a great option for many food-to-go venues.

What considerations should be made before choosing what signage is best for your business?

Choosing a promotional signage solution that is right for your business is the key to utilising it effectively according to Tony. “Factors such as the size of the displays used, the formats accepted by the system and the space available within an outlet to install such displays and systems, should all be considered before purchasing,”

“Orbis Software offers a complete Epos solution that can be integrated with the latest in hardware, fully utilising sleek LCD displays for the best in promotional signage. Recognising the diverse needs of establishments within the quick service sector, Orbis provide bespoke solutions that cater to a range of establishments, from single, independent outlets to multi-site chains.”

Also, to consider is general location, prevailing weather, local planning regulations, and pedestrian traffic flow explains Adrian. “For example, a freestanding pavement sign on an exposed site, with a high pedestrian footfall.  This firstly needs to be of a visible size, yet stable, so have a low centre of gravity, present a minimal trip hazard, and offer no sharp corners or finger traps, consider safety first.” 

The bottom line is of course the biggest consideration of all as Michelle elaborates “As margins are squeezed, cost-effectiveness remains an important consideration. It might be better to use less signage but to make it work more effectively. Quality counts and any signage needs to last and withstand daily use.” 

What future developments can we expect in the promotional signage market?

In the movie ‘The Minority Report’, shops use iris recognition technology to identify and personalise greeting messages to their regular customer,” begins Adrian.  “Recalling personal details to better target offers in-store, in other words; using targeted personalised marketing.”

“If that seems like a step too far, how about passive motion detection linked to slim audio visual display units, using local weather data to prioritise in-store offers to passers-by.  So, when it’s warm and sunny we are being targeted with cold drinks and ice-creams, however, should the weather change then so do the messages, to warming coffee’s and toasted Paninis. It’s already here (although) relatively expensive but getting cheaper all the time.”

According to Tony, digital signage will continue to solve the problem of unpredictable waiting times and long queues in store.  Orbis Techs targeted marketing software is one way to capitalise on targeted, personalised marketing “By simply connecting with internal queue management systems, (it) offers a more efficient and professional treatment to the customer, optimising the waiting experience. Quick eatery restaurants especially will benefit from being able to show the individual customer the correct offer automatically, at the appropriate time and at an attractive place,” 

“The other key future development will be I-Beacon technology, this will help advancing digital signage because of its ability to push personal and customised messages to a valued customers’ smartphones directly. Used with the business’s own smartphone app, I-Beacon technology will trigger specific promotions, offers or important marketing messages directly to the hands of both new and valued returning customers,” 

Michelle agrees that the future lies within technology and its rapid advances, led primarily by the consumer “Changing customer expectations and the use of new materials will be the drivers to create even more signage products and even more effective solutions. I’m not sure what they will look like, or even sound like perhaps, but change is always happening and it pays to keep up to date with developments, before your competitors do.”

Tony concludes “With technology consistently improving, new developments are always available for outlets looking for the very latest in signage. As the buying experience continues to become more personal through the trending use of mobile app schemes, and as customers continue to expect fast, quality service, we can expect the use of promotional signage to further tie in with providing a unique, personal buying experience for every customer,” 

“Signage that offers interactivity could also make its way to market, using new technologies to further the potential and personalisation options of promotional signage.”

Monday, 3rd July, 2017

Why street food could be the business opportunity for you……

Street food is a celebration of culture and heritage. Therefore, it is no wonder that it is currently one of the most popular forms of eating out in the UK. Heralded as one of the most adaptable types of food its true popularity originated in Asia, spanning the continents and picking up along the way cuisines from Cuba, Morocco and Berlin. Today, you don’t have to venture far from your door to taste Middle Eastern falafel or Jamaican jerk chicken as street food markets pop up across the country to cater for the population’s growing taste for exotic and fusion cuisines.

The origins of street food began where you would expect; on the streets, where vendors would offer cheap, easy to eat menu options to those wishing to experience a hearty yet cost effective meal.  This methodology has continued but has also adopted a completely new spin and today this market is experiencing further momentum as the ethos of cultural, heritage rich, tasty food has been adopted by Millennials (18-34), one of the food industry’s most influential consumer bases. 

By nature, street food is easy to eat on the go, has packaging that is easily disposable (and often recyclable) and the food is often locally sourced and visually pleasing.  Therefore, it is perfect fodder for ‘generation Instagram’.  According to a 2016 BBC Good Food Nation survey at present 90% of Instagram users are under 35. Of these users 30% admitted to taking a picture of their meal when they’re in a restaurant or café.  The bonus that these customers also tweet, like and share away pictures and offer frank opinions on their favourite food only goes to show that technology is hugely important to this sector.

With street food now a hot topic, consumers are more likely to travel across the country to experience the latest foodie craze or food festival and are therefore willing to spend more to be a part of this exciting and still very much emerging market.  Whether you choose to operate from a truck, cart, van or bike the high-volume of street vendors around today, gathering in food markets and other high-profile events, are as prolific as upmarket inner-city restaurants and gastropubs.  Once there to provide food to struggling parts of large cities, street food now exists to bring exotic, authentic and unusual flavours to a population that has adapted well to high quality, expertly cooked food without the pretention. 

London Calling

London has no doubt lent its diverse and thrilling atmosphere to the street food scene and this city has become one of the biggest hot spots for emerging street food businesses in the UK.  With celebrity lauded food festivals and trendy pop-up kitchens it has incorporated hundreds of differing cuisines and has introduced a city of people to world-wide flavours.  Rosalind Chik owner of Smokin Lotus, a London based fusion food concept that brings together the taste of Asia and the precision smoking techniques of the American Deep South tells us why London has embraced street food so whole-heartedly “I really think it’s because the food you can find out on the street is exciting, new and different.  It comes from our travels, cultures and is mixed together in ways that no-one has ever done before.  I think it really reflects the melting pot London is, as a city.”

There are many that have benefitted from this diversity, none more so than Lee DeSanges, owner of Baked in Brick.  Lee converted a Mini Cooper into a pizza grill and hasn’t looked back since.  A highlight of his street food career was winning the British Street Food Awards in 2016.  Explaining why he started his business “I built a wood-fired oven in my garden and after lots of ‘pizza parties’ and the love of street food events, I thought I would give it a go and I have never looked back.” For vendors like Lee, street food has become a way of life, accolades like winning the 2016 British Street Food Awards are an excellent bonus and a great nod to his hard work, long hours and commitment to producing great food.  Lee knows all too well why customers love street food and crucially keep coming back; “Customers like the thrill of following their favourite trader, seeing them and others be experimental with the way their stand looks and the menu they produce.” He adds “Customers like to know their hard-earned money goes into the pocket of an individual and not a big corporation.” 

Of course, being at the frontline of the market both have seen first-hand recent developments and customer reaction. Lee explains; “As the street food scene has grown, traders are keeping up with seasonal trends and pushing the boundaries of what they can produce from a converted vehicle to a 3x3 gazebo.” He continues; “Street food traders are (also) environmentally aware and where we can we try to use biodegradable packaging where possible.” 

Kerb appeal

Any corner of any well visited street can become a street food opportunity.  In fact, however small the area, the fact that street food offers such intensive coverage can have huge effects.  Another benefit to this kind of service is that it can literally be packed up and moved on if for example an area loses its appeal or an up and coming area emerges suddenly.  This means that vendors with an ‘ear to the ground’ so to speak, can benefit directly and quickly.  This kind of reaction to trends and preferences is a positive to consumers, many of whom rely on those with a passion and deep understanding of food to help expand their palates and introduce them to cuisines they may not have tasted before. 

The speed at which street food is prepared is no doubt a draw for its customers who expect to order and pay for their meals in the time it takes to say “Nasi Campur” (a Balinese mixed plate of meat, veg and rice).  This speed, which would usually be met with some raised eyebrows at a more formal dine-in experience, contributes to its popularity with an audience that prefers things sooner rather than later.  Not forgetting of course that the authenticity and quality of street food available today can (and quite rightly so) be compared to restaurant fare as more and more casual diners are looking to break free of the confines of a table booking at eight o’clock.   

For the vendor, the appeal of a kerb side business lies in its low start-up costs.  In a 2017 report by CGA Peach, which tracked business owners’ current economic concerns, they found that one of the biggest apprehensions for companies are business rates and food costs (79% and 78% respectively), followed by rental and property cost and increased staff costs.  Minimising costs by becoming a street vendor, which in turn removes high rental costs, reduces food waste and cost and lessens staff overheads is a great way of starting out or even adding extra income to your already thriving business. 

Another appeal of street food for both the consumer and trader, is that it naturally lends itself to vibrant food festivals, long summer nights and a friendly/ social atmosphere.  Lee elaborates “Most street food events are accompanied by great music, craft ales, plus amazing cocktails.  Street food event promotors have also stepped up their game by putting on live music, making the whole experience as enjoyable as possible.” 

‘Be different, be innovative, be the black sheep’

As for the future, Rosalind is certain that there is much we are still to experience “I’m hoping the future will bring even more variety.  The world gets smaller the more we travel and new ideas, trends and specialised local dishes are coming over (here) all the time.”  Lee sees value in street food events and adds “I see street food getting better and better; more new traders are starting (all the time) and new street food events are being created.” He concludes “There will always be a market for bricks and mortar restaurants but casual dining like street food will soar past your typical restaurant.” 

Recipe for success

There are many stories of proven success in the street food trade.  One of the most notable is American franchise chain The Halal Guys who began in the year 1990 in a hot dog cart on West 53RD & 6th Avenue, New York City.  The Halal Guys benefited from the massive consumer demand for Halal food from the city’s Muslim taxi drivers.  Fast forward 27 years, five carts and two NYC restaurants, to today, where they are recognised as one of the leading halal fast food chains in the USA. 

This quick adaptability to consumers’ tastes is key.  Consumer trends, health concerns, food intolerances, general preferences and social/environmental inclinations are all easily catered for and modified to suit a vendor/ customer demographic or location.  Fads/ trends, whichever moniker you choose, they will always play a huge part in consumers’ eating habits and the ability to change your menus and service to adapt to these quickly is possible to achieve with relatively low cost. 

Brands such as Leon who although didn’t begin in street food have brought the style of street food to an eat-in environment have gone from strength to strength in recent years. Expanding to 46 sites in the UK since 2004, last year they announced plans to open 50 new stores by 2020.  This healthy street food style brand has been welcomed into the UK casual dining market wholeheartedly. 
Mexican street food restaurant Panchos Burritos is another example of a street food concept turned restaurant success, proving that however you start your business, the opportunities in expansion do exist.  Panchos Burritos began on the streets of Mexico, with Chef Enrique Martinez at the helm.  In 2009 Enrique brought his successful concept to UK.  He continued selling his food in UK street festivals, catering for parties and music festivals in the meantime.  Further highlighting the importance of these festivals, it is here where he met Klaus Bohne who almost immediately went into partnership with Enrique.  Together they brought the concept to consumers of the UK and now with three restaurants and a footfall of 5,000 customers between all three they are experiencing huge success.

On one of the secrets to their success, Klaus Bohne comments “The design is one of the most important aspects of any restaurant, as it is our centre piece, both organisational and visual.  The servery and layout of units in Panchos was key to addressing the issue of high footfall,” he concludes “The current design now maximises customer flow even at very busy times.”

Proven popularity

Food to go has never been more popular, according to data released by Euromonitor International, and in 2016 fast food registered growth of 3% thanks to affordable prices, the growing popularity of the ‘on-the-go’ trend and the wide variety of products available to accommodate different dietary requirements.  Also in a recent report by consumer intelligence group IGD, they found that post-millennials show a preference for food-to-go specialists, with a quarter saying they were their favourite places to buy food-to-go products closely followed by QSR’s at 24%. 

In a similar vein mobile payments are predicted to see dramatic growth this year.  More and more small businesses are taking advantage of the instant reach and functionality of this type of service.  According to research by the Faster Payment Service, in 2015 they processed 903 million one-off payments, and over the next decade consumers and small businesses are expected to increase their use of online and mobile banking, with an estimated 2.2 billion payments being processed by 2025. 
Long hours and taking on a lot of the workload independently is generally a given in the street food trade; however for many this is not necessarily a negative.  The choice to open up this type of business is usually one taken after a long process of market research, test-runs and conversations with other vendors, but it ultimately stems from a love of food. 


We speak to a number of industry insiders to get to the root of the street food phenomenon and why you should seriously consider it as a business investment.

Becci Eplett, Marketing Manager, Huhtamaki UK
Peter Moore, CEO, Lolly
Jo Holborn, Marketing and Category Controller, McCain Foods
Aine Melichar, Brand Manager, Kerrymaid
Robert Burns, Marketing Controller, Westlers
Peter Brewin, Marketing and Communications Manager, Victor
Fabien Levet, National Account Manager, Pidy UK

Why has Street Food seen such a surge in popularity?

“Street Food – convenient, fresh, diverse and authentic.  What’s not to love about this continuing trend that is still burgeoning in the UK?,” begins Becci Eplett UK Marketing Manager of Huhtamaki, “With more and more street food vendors setting up their trucks, tables, vans etc. The convenience, choice and freshness of the food are important considerations to consumers.”  Peter Moore Chief Executive Office at Lolly an Epos Systems & Software provider concurs “Also the sheer diversity on offer, plus the low barriers to entry offered to catering enthusiasts who are keen to establish themselves, but have a potentially low starting budget.”

Robert Burns Marketing Controller at Westlers snacks adds ““One of the best things about the street food culture is that both customers and vendors approach it with a very open mind, there are no limits. Street food opens up the opportunities for experimentation and innovation, with new dishes being created all the time and classic dishes being updated or given a twist and consumers are incredibly receptive to it.”  Becci appreciates the benefits of street food and believes that consumer trends are very easily adapted to suit “Healthy eating remains a priority and street food epitomises this trend.  The use of ingredients in recipes which result in healthier dishes will usually take precedence over food choices that are low in fat or sugar, for example; with fresh superfoods becoming even more popular.”
In terms of growth, street food has seen a steady rise that looks set to continue.  Peter Moore attributes this to the wide variety of outlets available.  “The eating out culture in the UK continues to grow, particularly for boutique and independent vans and semi-permanent street caterers offering something individual,” he continues “According to Santa Maria research 94% of street food consumers said they have no plans to slow down or stop eating the amount of street food they have enjoyed so far.”

“Street food culture is also very fluid, without the constraints of a permanent menu,” adds Robert “It means vendors can test new ideas out all the time, keep what works and remove what hasn’t proved popular. Hot dogs fit perfectly within the street food trend, with Westlers beech wood smoked frankfurters offering a high quality base to be topped with a range of ingredients such as buffalo mozzarella, caramelised red onion, Swiss cheese, jalapeños and pulled pork, to create the perfect personalised dish. This makes them ideally suited as a street food, where customers are no longer content with the status quo, as they seek out new cuisines and twists on established classics.”

“It is an increasingly popular choice with consumers because it really offers the best of both worlds” explains Fabien Levet, National Account Manager, Pidy UK, “It’s quick and convenient but equally, provides people with plenty of variety and easy access to a fusion of flavours from around the world. Consumers are always keen to try new things for a reasonable price, without going out of their way and street food is the perfect solution.”

How can street food vendors stay ahead of the competition in such a saturated market?

But what do food retailers have to do to stand out and be successful? Victor Manufacturers’ Marketing Manager, Peter Brewin says that marrying a bold brand identity and flexible approach to front of house design is the key to the ultimate customer experience.  “It is important to recognise the changing needs of diners.  Millennials or those aged between 18-34 years old now make up 22% of the population.  This is a generation of discerning diners who expect innovative dishes and prompt service as standard,”

Becci agrees “Eating has always been a very social affair, and now, the possibility of being ahead of the trend, the first to know of a new supper club, pop up, event, café or food is worth its weight in ‘social’ gold!” she continues “Street food lends itself to social media and according to Huhtamaki research, an incredible 41% of food-to-go consumers use social media to upload photos or to interact with a food outlet; 89% of them use Facebook. 

Remaining in the know regarding classic street food options is vital if traders want to attract custom Aine Melichar, Brand Manager, Kerrymaid comments; “Burgers remain one of the best loved and most popular out of home menu choices, so it is important for operators to acknowledge new burger trends and on trend formats.” Aine also expresses the importance of flavour fusions to implement a clear shift away from traditional flavours.  “Ethnic flavours are starting to make an appearance on menus.  Hot and spicy seasonings are coming into their own with sriracha and harissa pastes complementing consumer demand for spicy seasoned burgers.”
Aine does however think it is important to always introduce an element that consumers know well “Although these new trends are increasingly popular, consumers still want to have a traditional topping of cheese on their burgers.  Kerrymaid slices are perfect for this; they come pre-sliced and are easily peel-able, making service more time efficient, regardless of the environment.”

There is a place for all types of food in this sector, explains Fabien; “There don’t tend to be any boundaries and nothing is too out of the ordinary, giving venders plenty of flexibility.” And what of consumers’ dietary needs and preferences?  Is this the way to make your outlet ‘stand out from the crowd’?  Fabien believes Gluten-Free is the way forward, he elaborates “Street food venders might consider catering for alternative dietary requirements because of the large percentage of consumers who require these dishes, whether this is due to allergens or personal preferences. We have extended our range and introduced our ‘award-winning’ gluten-free pastry cases.  These are ideal for producing an easy gluten-free alternative with the same great taste as our traditional pastry.”

He summarises “It’s a dining experience that involves all of the senses immediately and therefore, people tend to be more interested in trying new things. Many street food venders may choose to offer a more traditional theme with a freshly made selection of gourmet sandwiches and pastries.”
Gourmet fast food has undeniable links to Street Food, the ‘instagrammable’ food options sold at many a hotly anticipated food festival are testament to the flair and personality vendors put into their products.  Robert can see a direct correlation with consumers’ desires for a truly tailored experience.  He explains “A recent independent Hot Dog Report cited that one of the biggest emerging trends across foodservice as a whole is that of personalisation. Consumers want to be able to say they’ve had something unique to them and outlets are seeing success by positioning their offering as ‘make it for me’. This is becoming an increasingly popular draw for customers who are after something limited edition or unique and is something that aligns itself very nicely with the street food offering. We find that hot dogs in particular sit nicely under both the street food and ‘make it for me’ categories as a classic on-the-go dish that can be personalised in a number of ways.

He continues “At Westlers, we encourage our operators to give customers the opportunity to put their own twist on our range of premium frankfurters. In order to make the most of their hot dog offering, we have found that outlets see a sales uplift when they offer a range of seasonally themed dishes. Offering a range of serving suggestions and toppings to our customers via our online hub, as well as direct to the consumer via social media has been incredibly effective in highlighting the versatility of hot dogs as the perfect dish to get creative with.”

How can packaging aid in the development of Street Food?

Street food is enjoyed outside, therefore a demand for high quality packaging is absolutely necessary.  Huhtamaki, which has been providing packaging solutions for food providers for over 60 years, explains further “The rise of street food has meant an equal surge in the demand for premium quality disposables which fit the varied needs of street food concepts.  From soups to curries to tacos and burgers; the variety of street food on offer has led packaging specialists Huhtamaki to develop the ‘Taste’ and ‘Eatwell’ ranges in response to such trends” Becci explains, “Customers can enjoy an authentic street food experience and have food served in contemporary containers – either pots or trays – which allow for handheld eating on-the-go.”

She continues “Created to provide the market with a versatile and comprehensive disposable packaging solution suitable for a wide range of takeaway foods, the aptly named Eatwell range of paper food containers is the perfect choice for operators serving healthy, gourmet or indulgent eating concepts.  It is perfectly suited for street food concepts; be it an Asian noodle stir-fry, sticky barbeque pulled pork or Spanish paella.  The introduction of the large, 24oz size can be used to serve more hearty soups and Asian-inspired sauces.”

She concludes “Choosing packaging such as Eatwell and Taste from Huhtamaki, which can be custom-printed is a fantastic opportunity to build engagement with consumers, drive sales and generate social media publicity.”

How can vendors get the most out of their equipment?

Deciding to run a business in this market means that you automatically have lower start-up costs.  However this does not mean you should necessarily be looking for the cheapest options available to you.  Peter Moore explains further “Don’t economise on the key equipment that is essential to your food service, such as for example an industrial sandwich toaster or an espresso machine.  If your customers are looking for a premium coffee they are likely to know the difference between a good and bad one,” he also suggests that frugal business owners may also consider renting equipment if it will save you money.

Robert agrees and believes that investing in good quality equipment is essential “As street food businesses tend to be independently run operations that are regularly travelling, compact and reliable equipment is key to a smooth running operation. Products need to be thoroughly cooked with a quick turnover with the ability to be held as needed. Westlers can provide customers with a range of equipment, such as roller grills which are the premier cooking method for perfect golden brown frankfurters and hot dogs. The rollers seal in the natural beechwood smoke and give a golden brown glossy finish time after time, creating a perfect base for a range of toppings inspired by cuisines ranging from classic Texas BBQ to Asian and Italian influences.”

Peter also stresses the importance of a well organised back of house “Don’t forget good support when it comes to EPoS, payments and real-time back office, particularly for visibility of running out of best-selling items to maximise success/ profit.”

What does the future hold for street food?

According to Peter “British Street Food News reckons that by 2020 local authorities will have their budgets slashed by over 70% (of 2012 levels).” He adds “It is expected that more councils will redefine their street trading, markets and concessions policies as street food will provide a key opportunity for them to raise much needed cash”

At Westlers, they can see the street food market going from strength to strength as more independent businesses tap into current consumer demand for quirky and interesting fusions of cuisine served in a unique way.’ Robert continues “In order to stay at the forefront of the movement and capitalise on the street food market long-term, we are currently working on bespoke flavours and varieties of the Westlers frankfurters, the first of which is the Fiery Frank to launch later this year. This new launch will answer the consumers’ continuing search for new flavour varieties, offering them a hit of smoky heat and providing operators with a new base to try out innovative and exciting topping suggestions with their customers.”

Jo Holborn, McCain Foods Marketing and Category Controller predicts topped fries as the next big thing; McCain developed gluten free Staycrisp Fries in partnership with a range of street food traders who are at the frontline of the topped fry trend.  “Initially they crossed over from U.S casual dining menus to the UK street food scene and were a big hit with consumers,” begins Jo “But we expect them to become even more popular as more and more operators wake up to the opportunity.  Consumers love them and they can make a big impact on the menu and the bottom line with very little additional outlay or operational requirement.”

She adds “ We’re also going to see more innovation from the early adopters, who are already serving topped fries but want to stay ahead of their competition, offering the most exciting and unusual new combinations of ingredients.”  Adrian Luckie from jerk specialists Mama’s Jerk is one of the businesses McCain’s has been working alongside.  He explains “We’ve got a jerk chips option on our menu which performs really well; we use Staycrisp Fries sprinkled with jerk seasoning;  Delicious!” Adrian is also hopeful for an injection of Caribbean into street food “Everyone seems to be getting more health conscious so I predict that a lot more menus will be adding healthier versions of existing dishes.”

Monday, 3rd July, 2017

Home Delivery and Online Ordering

The UK food delivery market is worth upwards of £3.6 billion with exponential growth expected in the next three years due to the massive potential of online ordering platforms. Industry aggregators Just Eat have helped to change the UK’s eating habits by taking the hassle out of ordering your favourite meal.

In fact, according to NPD Group data, the demand for home delivery of ready to eat food grew 10 times faster than for dining out, reaching an encouraging £599 million visits last year.  Proving that consumers are reacting well to developments in online ordering technology. Victoria Hatch, Non-Executive Director of click and collect food ordering app mmmLunch predicts that by 2020 online orders will make upwards of 10% of all quick service restaurant sales “Online ordering and embracing all and any digital channel isn’t something that should just be considered, it’s vital if you want to do business in todays ‘on-demand’ world.”

The influx of new and exciting delivery options such as those provided by Hungryhouse and UberEats has seen the home delivery sector increase in visits by a huge 50% since 2008.  The desire for quick convenient takeaway food served hot and fresh to your home is confirmed, as new analysis into Britain’s spending habits estimates that of the £1.9 million spent by the average UK household over the course of a year, £14,000 of that will be spent on takeaways, which is a lot of pizzas, burgers and fries.  As Nazim Maniar, of ‘Sweetheat’ UK based producers of heated food delivery bags, points out “Orders can be placed from the comfort of your own home with a click of an app whilst you’re watching your favourite programmes.”

Pioneers such as Just Eat have designed a straightforward concept, whereby takeaways sign up, pay a fee and they take 14% of each order.  This benefits the takeaway who does not have to deal with complicated web pages and apps and it means they can concentrate on the most important thing, providing great food to their customer.  McDonalds recent announcement of their intention to begin offering UK delivery services this summer, is extremely telling of the direction food delivery will take.  McDonalds noted the increase in delivery resulted in ‘significant disruptions’ as through technology, delivery is continuing to change the way customers order, pay, track and receive food. 

Since 2011 the growth in ownership of smartphones has seen food delivery start-ups receive more attention.  The increased power of our smartphones has changed how many businesses run and therefore have made it possible for supply to match increasing consumer demand.  One such example is fast growing start-up Deliveroo, who have the potential to make an even bigger change to the home delivery market.  Unlike the aggregators their use of couriers to deliver meals from restaurants that previously did not offer delivery means that the food can often arrive much more quickly than that of their rivals.  The proof is in the results as Deliveroo announced a growth in orders of 650% in 2016, which included a 10% increase in orders midweek and a 20% increase in lunchtime orders

Technology as with most industries is expected to push this continuing market forward, with androids emerging as the latest craze.  Dominos released news of a pizza delivery robot in Europe and Just Eat trialled a delivery bot in London both attempting to improving efficiency using robotics.  Victoria elaborates “One thing is clear though, customers are expecting more and more. Whether it’s cashless payments or automatic loyalty stamps, these are all things that we need to be offering our customers now or risk losing them to those other companies who have adopted these ‘future’ technologies.”  Mobile ordering of course is a part of this, according to the Digital in 2017 Global Review more than half of the world uses a smartphone and by 2019 smartphones are expected to capture more daily online time than all other devices combined.  Recent figures released by Dominos exemplified the trend as they found that of all orders placed online 61% of those were placed on mobile devices.  As smartphones get faster and more accessible and with home cooking on the decline, modern consumers have begun to embrace the shift to mobile and it is important for businesses to embrace this change also.

However, there is still room for improvement, as last year Just Eat estimated that 6 out of 10 takeaway orders were still placed over the telephone with the rest placed online, however they did evaluate that this will shrink to fewer than 4 in 10, ironically the mobile phone will facilitate this.  Online ordering in general simplifies and speeds up the process, consumers generally prefer to shop online due to overall convenience and transparency, naturally they will also come to expect this from their takeaway orders and is a significant indictor of the future of mobile ordering.  According to the office for national statistics as of 2016, 95% of UK households owned a mobile phone, to put this into perspective 95% of people have central heating meaning that many people see it as a necessity.

Over the years developments in the takeaway industry have contributed to its huge success and continued growth.  Despite the attempted demonization of fast food, vendors have continued to adapt and offer its patrons a wider variety of food and drink.  Healthier ranges are apparent in most fast food menus, as well as free-from options and a better variety of vegan and vegetarian options.  Using online apps and web browsers to read menus means consumers are more likely to make an informed choice from a selection of takeaways, therefore the importance of offering an up to date, user friendly interface has never been more significant.  Steven Rolfe Managing Director of pointOne EPoS elaborates “Offering an online ordering ‘click and collect’ service to customers is a key way to enhance the customer experience and attract and retain business.  Online Ordering also enables customers to order days in advance, which improves convenience for them and streamlines your business so you can manage and process future orders easier.”

So, with online ordering set to take the crown from traditional phone ordering how can takeaways maintain their appeal with their customers?  As surely the removal of face to face interaction naturally makes the whole process much more difficult for the business in regards to customer interaction and service, or does it? Steven explains “Recent research has highlighted that QSR and takeaway restaurants are the fastest growing sectors in the UK. Whilst these figures are very encouraging to the fast-food operator they also suggest that competition has never been greater, with the consumer now having so much choice. The businesses that will benefit the most from this growth will be the ones that offer good old fashion values such as excellent customer service and value.”

Of course takeaways have been delivering for years and spending on takeaways is currently continuing to boom in the UK due to the rise of a breed of new online ordering firms and applications.  mmmLunch is one such platform which offers businesses an easy to set up food ordering app that can be fully branded, with a website and a marketing pack included in the deal.  Victoria Hatch explains the benefits of choosing such a service “Convenience is one of the most important factors for customers when considering how to order, digital and mmmLUNCH specifically makes it easier to order online and removes all unnecessary steps that slows up the process. mmmLUNCH maximises the power of mobile convenience for your customers to enjoy and benefit from, all fully supported by our team who personally take on board each new client.” 

There are many factors to deliberate when deciding whether to branch out into online ordering and home delivery.  With it hitting the headlines more and more frequently and the massive rise in home delivery visits over the last few years, it seems that the move over to online ordering and home delivery is inevitable for more and more businesses.  As Victoria explains “What makes online ordering particularly enticing is that online ordering actually increase the average spend by each individual customer by up to 20% than in person or on the phone.”  Another benefit is that the chances of miscommunication are also minimised as customers are able to ‘self-reflect’ on their order before finalising, leading to happy customers and an efficient ordering system. 

What service providers are there in the market and what do they offer by way of support for businesses?

Victoria “There are numerous service providers popping up which aim to connect retailers with the new generation of connected customers. Here at mmmLUNCH we do just that, providing food to go retailers with their own click and collect app without the associated high cost or hassle and provide a totally free of charge marketing pack. Online ordering significantly boosts customer loyalty and increases the amount the customer spends by up to 20% more.”
Steven “We believe that in order to fully benefit from online ordering the technology has to enable restaurants to integrate this service into their wider PoS set-up.  Our solutions include browser-based ordering, iPhone and Android apps and in-store order points such as kiosks.  For operators that choose to offer a ‘click and deliver’ service then adopting a driver management solution would also be useful to manage deliveries to the customer.”

What equipment/technology do businesses need to ensure a successful home delivery service?

Steven “Your EPoS solution provider needs to have a platform that can integrate real time online ordering technology. Whether this is in the form of a web page, an app or an in-house order point/kiosk it needs to fully integrate with the EPoS. As it web based no physical hardware is required, other than your EPoS set-up, however if you are going to provide an online ordering service to your customers then you should also consider that they will expect to be able to order online via an iPhone or Android app.”
Nazir “Sweetheat offer the perfect solution with its heated delivery system. The Bags ensure food is always delivered piping hot to the consumer each and every time. With its heating technology the bags heat up to a temperature of 90 degrees Celsius and will maintain this for a good 30-40 minutes, ensuring delicious hot food.”
Victoria “Hopefully as little as possible! Technology is moving at such a fast pace it’s becoming really hard for businesses to justify taking the leap with some new tech. As soon as you purchase a particular model, the manufacturer has brought out a newer model, making you feel like you’re using old out- dated technology. Here at mmmLUNCH we handle all of that - you’ve likely already got everything you need to use mmmLUNCH - an internet connection! There’s no need to make big investments in technology that will be out of date tomorrow.”

What does the future hold for home delivery and online ordering?

Steven “Cashless payments and self-service are the developing trends in this sector. Customer-facing cashless kiosks are now being introduced in many restaurants complementing online ordering by extending click and collect to an in-store option and is already proving very popular with customers.  Whilst this technology is still relatively new, many QSR operators on the high street will have this on their radar.”

Who is doing home delivery and online ordering best? And what can businesses learn from them?

Victoria “Companies that are really excelling in the food to go and take away industry are the service companies,  like Deliveroo, who are providing services which retailers can make use of - allowing them to increase their customer base without needing to spend their time organising delivery logistics. Or mmmLUNCH who take the admin hassle out of accepting click and collect orders. You can even see this behaviour from companies as colossal as Apple and Google. When they want to start offering new products or services, more often than not they don’t start working on these new features from scratch. They’ll go and acquire companies who are already offering similar services. They know that they can succeed much faster by making use of the skills and knowledge these companies have… there’s no longer any need to reinvent the wheel. It’s often much more cost effective and less risk to approach a company already offering the services you’re looking to use.”

Steven “The traditional home delivery experts like Dominos do this very well and have no doubt invested heavily in technology over the last 5 years to stay ahead of game. What can we learn? If you are going to offer home delivery via a digital ordering platform then do it well and don’t cut corners.  It needs to be slick and professional.  The customer purchase path and experience must be easy, fast and reliable. This doesn’t mean you have to invest lots of money, but do your research and invest wisely.”

If you don’t currently offer online ordering or home delivery as a business how do you start?

Steven “We operate in a fast-changing market, so you need to review the options out there and look for an EPoS provider that offers this and other web based ordering technologies that are fully integrated with an Enterprise level EPoS system designed specifically for the QSR space. The provider must also be a company committed to on-going development focused on this sector.”

As the takeaway food industry continues to expand into new and exciting revenue channels, it is no wonder it is currently estimated that UK adults consume 22 million fast food and takeaway meals every week, according to data released by YouGov. The possibilities seem to be endless as technology is updated and improved constantly.  Not forgetting of course the convenience to the consumer, a survey by Mintel (2016) suggested that one of the top reasons for ordering a takeaway was due to having no time to cook, this will only increase as more eateries and third party ordering services improve their online services.

Social media and smartphones will most definitely make an impact on the future of delivery services, as apps now become as easy to use as picking up a phone and making a call.  Apps let you save your favourite orders, collect loyalty points with ease and open up the possibility of ‘one tap ordering’.  With tech improving all the time, reaching people at the point of hunger has never been easier.

A recent analysis into eating trends by popular social media platform Facebook, found that 21% of occasional diners (who also tend to be more loyal to their favourite brands) and 48% of frequent diners would place an order for fast food on Facebook messenger.  This instant access to food on the go, through a device that is ‘always in their hand’ is an exciting prospect for the quick service industry.

Friday, 2nd June, 2017


Clockjack’s concept is simple, it brings tasty rotisserie chickens to the people. Their fresh concept based in Monument, central London, delivers across the city. Opening last summer they have gone from strength to strength as consumers continue to express their desire for home delivery.

Once a restaurant in Soho the kitchen only delivery concept, available on both Deliveroo and their own website, offers a delivery service to homes and offices in London.  Their main focus is spit roasted chicken however they also offer wraps and salads to their ever growing customer base. 
We speak to Jerry Goldberg one of the owners of Clockjack, as the delivery only service nears its first year anniversary we find out how the first year has gone and where they plan to take Clockjack in the next year. 

How did Clockjack delivery begin?

We first discovered delivery when Clockjack became one of Deliveroo’s first restaurant suppliers from our Soho restaurant around 4 years ago. We immediately saw the appeal of delivery from the way sales grew so quickly. However, we also identified a number of challenges for restaurants.  Our kitchen capacity was designed for our seated capacity, so at certain times in the day delivery demand put stress on the kitchen. 

Secondly, our front of house was designed for an eat-in restaurant experience, not as a collection point for delivery drivers, thirdly the cost structure was not ideal for delivery. As well as having to cope with the delivery commission we still had the premium property costs of a prime Soho location.

Finally although Clockjack’s main product - rotisserie chicken - is ideal for delivery because it travels so well, our menu was not designed for the delivery customer. Pulling all of this together, we felt that a dedicated delivery kitchen with a tailored menu (based on the restaurant menu but not identical to it) and an appropriate cost structure was the best way of accessing the new and growing delivery market with a new business model.

What kind of customers do you have and why do they choose you?

Clockjack Deliveries has a range of different types of customers. There are two main groups - people at work (who order to eat at their desk or larger orders for meetings and events) and local residents who want to eat at home. One main reason for choosing Clockjack is menu and quality. Rotisserie chicken - our signature dish -  is very popular, but we also have a wide range of other menu items. The food is freshly made and nutritious with lots of protein and veg, including many vegetarian options.
Clockjack has a number of unique parts to its menu, such as a range of homemade cakes from the Ripe Banana Co. They use fruit and veg ingredients for delicious and indulgent cakes but with less sugar and fat. Another reason our customers chose Clockjack is reliability and flexibility. As we are a dedicated delivery kitchen our orders are ready quickly and delivered on time, whatever the time of day. We also can do very large orders, catering for over 300 people in one go - something restaurants struggle to do especially at peak service times. The packaging is designed for the delivery eating occasion and Clockjack has a popular range of platters for meetings and larger groups.

What kind of growth have you noticed in the delivery trend and what does the future hold?

Clockjack Deliveries has been open less than a year, so it’s difficult to comment in any detail on trends. Our sales are constantly growing and we continue to add new customers. Clearly the delivery market is very popular and I expect this to continue.
Clockjack plans to maintain growth by adding new customers and increasing the frequency of orders from our existing loyal customers. We will support this by continuing to develop our menu and possibly adding further specialist brands such as The Ripe Banana Co.’s cake range. New Click & Collect businesses have moved to London from the US and we are trialling this along with a number of other new revenue streams.

Friday, 2nd June, 2017

Fish and Seafood

The UK food service sector is experiencing growth across the UK for the first time in several years, with growth forecast of between 1.1% and 3.2% for 2015, this is largely being driven by growth in hotels, casual dining and quick service operators. With this positive growth in the sector, fish and seafood has also had a positive increase in demand over the last few years. The average UK adult is eating more fish than a generation ago. Trend data from the National Food Survey (NFS) and Expenditure and Food Survey (EFS) show how per-head consumption of fish is now around two per cent higher than in 1975, according to a report commissioned by Sainsbury's in association with the Future Foundation.

Seafood is now becoming a multi-billion pound industry in the UK in its own right. Consumers spent approximately £3.1bn on eating seafood out of home, an increase of 1.5% on the previous year. Seafood servings increased 6.8% this year driven by positive performance in all channels according to Seafish UK (2016).  With this in mind, it is important to note that one of the significant contributors to OOH ( out of Home ) spending every year is Fish and Chips, according to Seafish UK there are approximately 10,500 takeaway fish and chip shops in the UK, collectively serving around 380 million meals per annum.  Yet the future of fish and chips could be uncertain, they have been a familiar part of every British high street for at least a century, but according to new information from global information company The NPD Group, Britain’s fish and chip shops are facing an uncertain future. They are losing visits while other quick-service restaurants (QSR) are attracting more traffic than ever before.  Innovation in the fish and seafood sector continues to grow and new product development in this field is rife.

In this issue we look at what some of the leading industry voices in the sector have to say about the current trends circulating the market and what the future has in store for such a thriving consumer favourite.

This month features:
Sarah Cumber, Marketing Manager, Paramount 21
Andy Gray, Trade Marketing Manager, Seafish
Adrian Greaves, Foodservice Director at Young’s Foodservice
George Clark, MSC Senior Commercial Manager for the UK

With foodservice customers eating more healthfully, fish and seafood has gained importance on menus in a growing number of casual and independent restaurants across the country, diners are looking for healthier options and assertive taste profiles, as well as consistency…

How popular is fish and seafood in the QSR/takeaway market?

“The market for fish and shellfish within the foodservice market continues to grow” according to Andy Gray from Seafish. Recent statistics over the year ending June 2016, seafood servings increased 2.3% to 979.2m a year on the back of 1.5% more visits and diners buying 0.9% more items each.  Andy continued: “There are still considerable opportunities for seafood within certain sectors of the overall foodservice market.”  Sarah Cumber believes Seafood has never fallen out of favour with customers – the dishes remain a staple across restaurant and pub menus. What has changed is the flavour combinations influenced by the demand for global cuisine, spicy food, exciting ingredients and provenance.  Adrian Greaves agreed. He said: “The popularity of fish and seafood with diners shows no signs of slowing down so it’s a great idea for QSR operators to ensure they include a variety of fish and seafood choices on menus.”

With consumer demand fluctuating across the UK around fish and seafood, what keeps consumers coming back for more?

“Variety and accessibility” insists Adrian Greaves, “including a variety of fish on menus can prove popular.” He continued: “One way to easily achieve this can be to include frozen fish. Frozen food has many benefits over fresh alternatives and seafood is no exception to this. “Not only is frozen seafood readily accessible, Young’s have a range of products that can be cooked straight from the freezer, delivering great portion control.”  In the past many dining establishments might only have made a token gesture to including a couple of fish and shellfish dishes on their menu.  Andy Gray of the Seafish Association agreed, explaining: “the UK has a long running affinity with the ocean and the fish and shellfish that it produces.  He continued: “Increased overseas travel over recent generations has also helped expand the palate of consumers – think of holidaymakers in the Mediterranean enjoying a dish of squid for the first time and then returning back to the UK where demand for squid then increases. 
Sarah Cumber was keen to highlight the role that customisation and ‘premiumisation’ has in the repeat purchase of fish and seafood in the UK.  She commented: “By offering customisation and premiumisation menu options you’re giving customers what they want and you have the opportunity to upsell and increase spend per head.  She concluded: “This also enables you to cater to a broad range of customers while reducing the number of items on your menu.”

With consumers developing ever more sophisticated tastes when it comes to eating out, it is imperative for chefs and foodservice providers to keep pace with such fast moving changes.

What are the latest trends in the fish and seafood market?

Health was the key theme amongst all the respondents’ feedback when asked this questions.  Sarah Cumber highlighted the fact that people are becoming a lot more aware about what is in their food and where it’s from.  She commented: “Customers are seeking transparency and want to know more about the food they are eating. We recently launched two new seafood starters which blend product innovation with customer appetite for product knowledge…”  George Clark, MSC Senior Commercial Manager for the UK has a similar view, he explains, “British consumers are savvier than ever when it comes to food provenance.  They want to know exactly what is in their food and where it comes from – especially when they’re choosing fish specifically for its environmental credentials.”  Andy Gray believes the UK consumers are starting to adapt their diets to become more ‘flexible’. He explains: “One of the noticeable current food trends is that of consumers being more flexible in what diets they follow – something often referred to as ‘flexitarian’; for example, perhaps only eating meat three days a week, or not eating carbohydrates after a certain time in the day – and pescetarianism is said to be one of the major ‘flexitarian’ trends for 2017 – consumers endeavouring to regularly include fish and shellfish in such flexible diet regimes.
He also stressed the importance of fish and seafood’s nutritional values, saying: “Seafood is a great source of certain vitamins and minerals which perform very important functions within the body. Oil-rich fish such as mackerel, herring and sardines are a great source of vitamins A and D, which are important in the growth and development of children.”  Adrian Greaves agreed suggesting that health is now on the forefront of consumers’ minds.
He said: “Many diners are now looking to include more Omega 3 in their diet as this is proven to strengthen the immune system, lower the risk of heart disease and have many other health benefits.”

Fish and chips is considered Britain’s national dish but do you remember the good old days when you went to the fish and chip shop and came out clutching a little parcel wrapped in newspaper? Today this is a dying practice…

What packaging options are available for takeaway fish and seafood dishes?

Andy reflects on the time when the old newspaper wrap was most certainly a ‘thing’, however he highlights where packaging is heading in the future.  He commented: “Where once the tradition was for fish and chips to be wrapped in humble newspaper, the preference now is for takeaway fish and chips to be served in custom box packaging- very often made from biodegradable materials which are obviously good for the environment.  He concluded: “This helps maintain product quality and prevents crushing and sweating of the product which is what results when wrapped in simple paper. Serving fish and chips in such custom boxes also allows the opportunity for the seller to relay promotional and information messages to customers.

Empowered by social networks and their digital devices, consumers are increasingly dictating what they want, when they want it. They have become both critics and creators.  The increase in customisation has led to consumers demanding a more personalised service and expecting to be given the opportunity to shape the products they consume and in the food industry this is no different.

What options are available for customisation of dishes?

Sarah re-iterated her point from earlier on in the feature, insisting that “Customisation and premiumisation is key.”  She suggests: “Look at your starters and nibbles to give you more options across your menu.” A similar view was adopted by both Adrian Greaves from Youngs Foodservice and Andy Gray from Seafish.  Adrian Greaves commented: “Offering something a little different can be a great way to boost sales of fish and seafood and encourage customers to try something new.”
Further to this, Andy said: “The huge variety of different tastes, flavours and textures evidenced in fish and shellfish, lends seafood to having almost limitless scope for being incorporated to restaurant dishes.”

Sustainable seafood represents a healthy relationship with our oceans that can endure forever.  When humans consume fish and seafood, we leave a mark on the ecosystem. It is critically important for our own well-being and that of the oceans, that we understand the impacts of our choices.

Are there any sustainability concerns for sourcing certain species of fish/seafood?

“Yes”, insists Andy, keen to highlight The issues of seafood sustainability and responsible sourcing as they’re becoming increasingly prominent in the foodservice sector, with growing numbers of customers and diners wanting to know more about how and from where the fish and shellfish they will be eating has been sourced.  Andy said: “Communicating to customers in clear and simple terms as to where and how a business sources its fish and shellfish, can help inform consumers about the dishes they are eating and the efforts industry is taking regarding the management and responsible sourcing of the seafood we eat in the UK.  Adrian Greaves agreed, he drew attention to the importance of sustainability, both to businesses and diners.  He said: “As well as carefully considering the types of fish and seafood to include on menus, it’s essential for QSR operators to be aware of the provenance, with sustainability very much a hot topic.

We would always advise operators to check the sourcing policy of their chosen seafood supplier in the first instance.  Further to this, Adrian also mentioned Young’s Foodservice efforts to protect the environment, saying: “We understand how important it is to protect our environment and have therefore developed a specific programme which focuses on protecting the key elements of our business; the fish and the sea.  He continued: “Through our Fish for Life Corporate Social Responsibility Programme, we seek to improve our impact in everything we do, from sea to plate. We want to ensure that we are doing the right thing for our customers and for the planet, both now and for generations to come. Sustainable practices are the only way to safeguard the future of fish, which is why we also support the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) and why we work to understand every fish farm and fishery before using them in our supply chain. For example we also work proactively with fishermen and the industry to help improve long term sustainability.”

With all this said, it is encouraging to hear that the foodservice industry is taking steps in the right direction as a report released by the International Institute for Sustainable Development in 2016, showed sustainable seafood now accounts for 14 percent of global seafood production. That’s a whopping leap from a decade ago, when only 0.5 percent of seafood production was considered sustainable. Food service businesses are often affected by changes in consumer tastes, national, regional and local economic conditions and demographic trends.

What does the future hold for the fish and seafood market?

“Opportunities”, insists Andy, with the wide range of different species of fish and shellfish available to be enjoyed via an ever increasing variety of food outlets – from sandwich shops to fish and chip takeaways to pubs, leisure outlets and restaurants –“ seafood has a very bright future.”
He continues: “In comparison to other forms of protein, seafood can be said to have a far greater range of different flavours and textures – in essence, something to be enjoyed by every consumer no matter their taste preferences, and as such seafood offers restaurant owners and food outlet operators with a great opportunity to excite and please customers and grow their respective businesses.

Andy was also keen to highlight the importance of environmental responsibility in the 21st Century.  He commented: “Environmental responsibility is a key area for the seafood industry in the 21st century. Fishermen in the UK lead the world in responsible practice and have been working with conservation organisations and statutory agencies for some years to ensure a sustainable future for our seas.

Friday, 2nd June, 2017

Commercial Cleaning and Fire Prevention

Following the correct procedures regarding standards and subsequent follow-up of cleaning within your business (in line with strict laws set in place by the UK government) are non-negotiable and are a pre requisite to owning and operating a business in the food and drink sector in the UK. Cleanliness is one of, if not the most important basic requirements of any business within the industry. Standards when serving food and drink to the general public must be of the highest calibre in order to comply with the many laws and regulations regarding food preparation and serving.

Commercial Cleaning and Fire Prevention


Chris Auger from BAFE, the independent registration body for third party certified fire protection companies across the UK.

Ian Bartle, Managing Director of Nobel Fire Systems Ltd, a leading supplier of fire suppression and detection systems. 

The deep clean

However, cleanliness may not only generate 5 star reviews and great customer feedback, it may also save the lives of your employees as well as the future of your livelihood. Fire prevention procedures such as correct fire prevention equipment, accessible fire exits, proper storage of flammable and combustible materials, up to date training and appropriate signage are all part of the course in business ownership.  However one aspect of fire prevention that can often be overlooked is ‘good housekeeping’ and making sure that your businesses service and back areas are free from dangerous materials and an unsafe build-up of cooking materials that could create or lead to a hazard.

Kitchen equipment such as ovens and fryers all pose a great risk of fire if not handled and cleaned correctly and therefore the necessity for stringent cleaning and safety protocols are immensely important.  Generally speaking commercial buildings are most at risk of fire and taking preventative measures to reduce this risk is a demand of all business proprietors.  According to statistics released by the Home Office, restaurants, cafes, pub/wine bars, and takeaways attributed to 10% of all fires from 2015-2016, totalling 2,200 fires.  It is important to remember that fire not only affects your business, but could also affect your customers, staff and surrounding businesses in the area. 

“Consider the reasons why professional cleaning is a necessity,” begins Ian “An obvious start point is the ever present grease factor. Grease is unavoidable in a commercial kitchen and if left to build up over time will only take a naked flame or an electrical spark to set it ablaze.  We’re not just talking here of a small surface fire that can be easily extinguished. Grease will attract dust and become a volatile combination that accumulates throughout the kitchen, including its ventilation and extraction systems. If that is left to happen you won’t know about the danger until it’s too late. It’s the same as far as the catering equipment itself is concerned. Fryers, griddles and ranges if left without regular cleaning will build up grease internally and externally and eventually become ticking time bombs. 

He continues “Only use a professional and reputable specialist to deep clean your kitchen. They will have equipment to ensure the extract duct system is cleaned and certified from the canopy all the way through to extract point which may well be located on an outside wall or roof. All surfaces should be degreased and cleaned with a food grade safe anti-microbial solution to leave them hygienically clean and protected.”

A great deal of research into the method and tools with which you use to clean your equipment is important.  There are a number of options available to your business as Chris points out “Most cleaning companies use scrapers and chemical decarbonising agents, so it is very physical and time consuming. Equipment used is varied and all have advantages and disadvantages,” he adds “The most common mechanical methods are chemical foaming agents that are dispersed at the end of a hose; these can be delivered by four wheeled buggies with colour CCTV, mechanical brush systems with the chemical delivery systems attached, or as basic as a hand pump compression chamber with a hand lance.

Another method available is using ‘dry ice and frozen C02’ adds Chris “The ice pellets are blasted by a delivery system into the grease and when dry ice pellets impact, they expand to nearly 800 times the volume of the pellet in milliseconds; the decreasing temperature serves to break up the coating as it becomes embrittled and it simply pops off the contaminant from the inside out. However limitations are that they are expensive to store and deliver the C02, the delivery impact is at about 130 dB, so there are very few locations where this noise level could be tolerated.

“The disadvantages with all wet cleaning is the chemical potentially leaking through the ductwork joints, which can lead to decorative damage or even impose an additional fire risk if leaked onto electrical equipment. Caustic chemicals can damage the ductwork and degrade the seals between the joints, this could render a fire rated duct or a fire suppression system ineffective.  All have their pitfalls and the equipment required will depend on the layout of the system at each location,” concludes Chris. 

So, how real are the dangers?

Ian clarifies “Probably, the most compelling illustration of the inherent dangers can be summed up by Government statistics that show that in the food and drink industry there were in excess of 1,500 (reported, probably a lot more unreported) fires in the year 2015/16. While there was only one fatality over that period, there were 112 casualties, a clear signal showing how critical it is to protect your commercial kitchen with a suitable fire suppression system on a continuous basis.”

Chris agrees “The risk of fires in commercial kitchens is a growing one with insurance companies taking an increased interest with regard to the risk to property. With commercial real estate values particularly in the South East, typically priced in the millions and occurrences of fires in kitchens becoming more prevalent, this is quickly becoming an area of focus for insurers.”

A recent article from the Building Engineering Services Association (BESA) who developed the industry’s primary standard for ventilation hygiene, highlights the very real risk of fires in poorly maintained extract duct systems

“Around a quarter of the 24,000 accidental fires in UK non-domestic buildings each year are caused by cooking appliances. Fires are an occupational hazard in commercial kitchens, but their impact is made far worse by the rapid spread of the fire through poorly maintained grease extract systems and ductwork. If grease deposits in uncleaned ductwork are ignited they will spread the fire rapidly to other parts of the building.  Many insurance companies now make it a condition of cover that building managers have a planned maintenance strategy in place and, before paying out following a fire, they will insist on seeing evidence that ductwork cleaning had been carried out.”

Legal requirements

To avoid the worst case scenario it is important to familiarise yourself with the laws.  The Regulatory Reform Order was introduced in England and Wales on the 1st of October 2006.  The Order is designed to provide a minimum fire safety standard in all non-domestic premises with a few exceptions. 

Also applicable is The Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 which is the primary piece of legislation covering occupational health and safety in Great Britain.  It states that “Employers and Persons concerned with premises owe the common duty of care both to employees and others who may use or visit the premises” It also “requires that you as an employer, provide and maintain a working environment that is, so far as is reasonably practicable, safe and without risk to health.”

“Most premises containing a commercial kitchen are subject to the RRO Order and must comply with its regulations. The most important aspect of the RRO is the stipulation that every business has a legal requirement to appoint a ‘responsible person’ whose duty is to establish a detailed risk assessment and then regularly review that assessment on an on-going basis,” explains Ian. 

“It became an offence under the RRO if systems were not maintained from a fire risk perspective and in the event of personal injury or death from a fire associated with a poorly maintained system (section 17 of the RRO) charges of corporate liability or manslaughter may be brought against the operator (responsible person),” concludes Chris.

Fire prevention equipment

“There are numerous ‘approved’ fire suppression systems available including Wet Chemical, Water Mist and Condensed Aerosol. However, the decision on which system to choose will depend on a number of factors relating to the individual commercial kitchen’s needs,” Ian continues “These factors include; the system’s ability regarding fire suppression and post-fire capabilities, ease of discharge clean up following a fire, the environmental impact, ease and speed of installation, back-up and service capabilities, cost of ownership and the important concern expressed by an increasing number of owners regarding the aesthetic aspects of the fire suppression system. Of course the driving force behind any decision regarding choice of system will always be the facts resulting from a comprehensive fire risk assessment.”

“Nobel Fire Systems prides itself as uniquely offering extended ductwork protection from canopy to the building extraction unit but the majority of commercial kitchens will require individual solutions tailored to exact needs. The key here is to get professional advice from a reputable supplier, check their reputation in the industry and their experience, are they innovators or followers, do the products on offer rely on out of date technology or do they provide cutting edge technology linked to user requirements? In other words, make sure you take advantage of new generation systems that will safely and effectively take you into the future.

Chris adds “There is a plethora of equipment in use to prevent or reduce the risk of fire within a commercial kitchen; these may include UV filtration, canopy filters, baffles and electrostatic precipitators (ESP) but equally important is to select the right contractor who understands how each of the equipment works and has a proven track record of their use. Quality records; membership of recognised associations and accreditations are indicators of quality providers.

“In addition to fire prevention methods, where no prevention methods have been installed it is important to install a quality and reliable fire detection and alarm system installed by a BAFE registered organisation and in addition a fire suppression/protection system.  There are a number of manufacturers and installers that can provide these systems.”

Some of the biggest causes of fire at commercial premises are flammable materials and human error.  Incorrect storage and disposal of equipment and waste as well as improper training of staff in fire safety procedures, could result in fatal and devastating consequences that could change the future of your business.  Therefore, excellent general housekeeping and up to date fire prevention literature and training protocols are a necessity to prevent loss of life.  Penalties given for failing to adhere to government guidelines range from fines of up to £5000 for minor infringement and more serious breaches can carry unlimited fines and prison sentences of up to two years.

How can you ensure excellent standards of fire prevention

“The key thing here is for a fire risk assessment completed by a suitably qualified and competent fire risk assessor who has been independently verified and certificated,” begins Chris. ”Good design is also essential when selecting systems and equipment, which may include where practicable, the shortest possible route to discharge, high velocity systems, good access to the ductwork and into the ductwork with use of access panels; maintenance records - duct cleaning, suppression system, UV filtration, electrostatic precipitators etc as well as auditing, good record keeping, post clean reports, maintenance records, system layouts/drawings.”

“The Heating and Ventilating Contractors Association (HVCA) is a good start. They represent the interests of firms active in the design, installation, commissioning and maintenance of heating, ventilating, air conditioning and refrigeration products and equipment.” adds Ian. 

Chris also stresses the point of the importance of making sure your contractor “has gone through the process of third party certification” in order to ensure that their processes “have been checked for compliance to relevant standards.”  “BAFE is the independent registration company for third party certificated companies in the fire protection industry offering schemes for many fire protection services including fire risk assessments; fire detection and alarm systems; gaseous suppression systems and portable fire extinguishers.  BAFE is also currently developing a scheme specifically for kitchen fire protection installations.”

Talking Tech

“Technology is constantly changing and evolving, especially recently, mainly due to the increase in awareness of the RRO and through social media,” explains Chris “New technologies are hard to define as mostly not known about, however disposable wool filters which claim to capture up to 98% of the grease particles before they enter the kitchen system are being trialled in the UK. Also there are new monitoring systems which remotely measure grease build up in ducts and report back these measurements, so act as a sleeping policeman.”

According to Ian the future of technology will involve systems being more intuitive, responding to customer needs and being robust enough to offer lower life time costs across the sector.  “In tune with today’s personal and commercial needs, technology will take us forward to the point where fire suppression systems have the capability to monitor and advise on the fire risk situation both on location and remotely, which is why we consistently research what it is that customers want and need.” 

“We’ve just launched a new range of fire suppression control panels under the brand name Avantis,” explains Ian “It’s already proving to add value by making working practices easier and safer for commercial kitchen operators. The control panels are compliant with all required standards and touch screen technology provides new and enhanced levels of intelligence and user interaction. Two more exciting products are about to be launched and throughout 2017 more innovative technology will be introduced to the market aimed at increasing customer usability through ground breaking features and benefits.

The future?

The future for commercial cleaning is looking positive according to Chris due to the number of restaurants opening in the UK over the past 5 years “All of these restaurants, hotels and in-store eateries will have an extraction system fitted and fire protection systems and devices, with some having targeted suppression systems, all will potentially require the services of a duct cleaning company to maintain the system in a serviceable condition. Third party certificated schemes like those offered by BAFE do increase awareness of the requirement of fire protection and increase the professionalism of the industry.”

Of course having up to date procedures and equipment is vital to the future of your business “There is no doubt that adhering to outdated methods of manufacture and traditional attitudes is not the way forward,” explains Ian “equally here at Nobel we believe that innovative technology has little value in isolation. To be really effective and to make a significant difference, it has to be applied to solve specific customer and business problems, now and for the future. That’s why we consistently research what it is that customers want and what they need.  We have the talent and the determination to innovate, improve and engineer solutions that consistently take our fire suppression systems to the next level.”

More information can be found:



Friday, 2nd June, 2017


From new trends to ethical solutions, we explore the world of packaging...

Food packaging plays a vital role in preserving food throughout the distribution chain. But more than that, packaging can add value to products and strengthen a business’s brand. It also serves as a form of mobile advertising and can entice customers to pay a visit.

We’ve invited some industry experts to help us navigate the choices and considerations of packaging.

Joining us this month:

Neil Whittall, Global Category Director for Speciality Coffee at Huhtamaki (UK) Ltd
Adrian Pratt, Marketing Manager at F Benders
Rob Blunderfield, Marketing Manager at Parsley in Time

Monday, 15th May, 2017


From the farmers of Africa to your cup, we tell the story of the world’s most popular drink

Life is thought to have originated from Africa, and so did coffee. It’s believed that in the tenth century, the nomadic mountain people of Ethiopia recongised coffees stimulating effects after eating the berries directly from the tree.

Some historians believe that Sudanese tribes soon picked up the customary chewing of coffee beans from the Galla tribe of Ethiopia. With the introduction of Muslim slave trade routes, Sudanese slaves used the coffees energy giving properties to help them survive the arduous journey from Kaffa to Harrar and Arabia.

Over the next century, coffee was consumed via various methods - from coffee porridge, to coffee wine. Eventually, the coffee became a hot beverage and by the 13th century, coffee was being used as a powerful prayer aid in the Middle East.

With the help of Venetian merchants, coffee made its arrival into Europe, and in 1645, the first coffeehouse opened in Italy. By the 1650s, coffeehouses started to appear in London.

Nowadays, you’d be hard-pressed to find somewhere that doesn’t sell coffee. But how can businesses differentiate their coffee and can an ethical approach increase profits?

How popular is coffee?

“The ‘café culture’ that exists today has become an integral part of our society,” says Tom Noonan from DaVinci Gourmet. “Coffee is the biggest beverage category out of home, driven by consumers’ increasingly explorative tastes and raised expectations. Across the UK, many consumers want to enjoy coffee without its natural bitterness, especially younger people, and as a result look for a sweeter taste. Introducing the option of flavour combinations to a speciality beverage offer is essential for those operators looking to keep up with the trends.”

Martin Armitt from Aimia Foods adds: “According to the Allegra World Coffee Portal’s ‘Project Café 2016 UK’ report, the coffee shop market is estimated to have a total turnover of £7.9 billion – and has resulted in consumers having more improved palates and knowledge, making them coffee connoisseurs. This huge out of home consumer spend, not only on coffee, but on a whole host of other hot beverages, has led to a rise in a variety of different establishments tapping into this market.

“Coffee is without question the most popular hot beverage on the market, but coffee now comes in many different guises. From traditional Americanos and espressos to lattes, cappuccinos and flat whites, as well as the addition of a multitude of different flavoured syrups which can be added to enhance the flavour further still, coffee is now a nationwide obsession.” 

Justin Stockwell from Caffeine Ltd agrees that coffee is taking over the UK and adds: “While traditionally the UK has been a nation of tea drinkers, recent years have seen coffee emerge as a real contender to the title of our national drink, with over 70 million cups drunk every day. One of the main reasons for its popularity is, of course, the energy boost the caffeine provides. But aside from that, the complex and satisfying taste of a quality cup cannot be underestimated as a reason. While a cup of tea is usually just a cup of tea, coffee is versatile, and can be used to make a variety of drinks to suit a wider range of tastes.”

But can coffee really replace tea?

Simon Remmer from Rombouts certainly thinks so. He added: “The rise in café culture has ingrained coffee into our lives and has seen a take over from tea as the UK’s preferred choice of hot beverage. Consumers have become real coffee lovers, and even coffee geeks, demanding to know more about the coffee they are drinking and opting for quality and details on origin and sustainability.”

Where Does the Coffee Come From?

The world’s coffee is grown within 1,000 miles of the Equator and in over 50 countries. After oil, coffee is the second most traded commodity in the world and amounts to half a trillion cups drank per year.
According to the International Coffee Organisation, Brazil exports 2,859,502 US tons of coffee per year. The country has remained the biggest global producer of coffee beans for over 150 years.
Vietnam, Columbia, Indonesia and Ethiopia are also within the top 5 coffee producing countries.

Insight: Coffee Farming in Ethiopia

The Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia, located in the Horn of Africa, is the world’s fifth largest producer of coffee.

Key Facts
• Coffee is Ethiopia’s number one export
• Almost half of the coffee is exported to Europe
• 95% of Ethiopian coffee is produced by over 2 million smallholder farmers
• About half of the coffee produced is for domestic consumption
• About 25% of the population is directly or indirectly involved in the coffee industry
• Almost 2% of the world’s coffee comes from Ethiopia

Why should UK businesses worry about sustainability?

Farm Africa is a leading international development charity that reduces poverty by working with farmers across eastern Africa to grow more, sell more and sell for more. We asked a spokesperson for Farm Africa just how important coffee is to the economy. They told us:

“Coffee is a major contributor to many African countries’ economies, most notably Ethiopia, the world’s fifth largest producer of coffee (after Brazil, Vietnam, Colombia and Indonesia). As an industry, coffee can be hugely lucrative; it provides employment for nearly 15 million people in Ethiopia and makes up some 28% of the country’s yearly exports. Yet all too often farmers are excluded from the value chain, with profits being shared by distributors and middlemen, while farmers sell their coffee beans for a much lower price than they could be fetching.

“The most common problem that we encounter in the coffee industry, and the one that Farm Africa’s work seeks to address is coffee farmers being trapped in poverty due to being unable to earn a decent living from the coffee beans they harvest.  Farm Africa supports smallholders, and forest users, to form well-functioning coffee cooperatives, that produce and market high-quality coffee. We help them to gain accreditation from certification schemes such as Fair Trade, Rainforest Alliance and others, which help them to access lucrative markets and fair prices for the coffee beans they work so hard to harvest.

“Forest coffee farming, that Farm Africa supports, benefits the environment by giving local communities a financial incentive to preserve trees.  Farm Africa’s REDD+ project in Ethiopia’s Bale Eco-region seeks to reduce carbon emissions by promoting forest-friendly businesses such as producing forest coffee, honey and mushrooms. The project was launched in 2012, and by 2015 has already prevented enough deforestation to achieve a carbon emission reduction equivalent of 5.532 million tCO2e. This emission reduction has recently been verified and is now for sale on the global carbon credits market. At the current average price these carbon credits would fetch $18 million, but we expect them to attain a higher price due to the additional benefits they have brought in preserving unique species of coffee.

The local community will receive 60% of these funds, while the Government of Ethiopia will receive 40%. This represents 6.5% of the annual total of carbon credits traded, so is a huge achievement and will be a hugely significant additional incentive for the local community to continue to engage in forest-friendly businesses including coffee instead of clearing trees.”

Learn From the Experts

We asked Katie Goodejohn, Director of Ethical Sourcing at Starbucks Coffee Company, what Starbucks is doing to ensure an ethical approach: “Globally we work with over 300,000 farmers across nearly 30 countries to ensure we source the best coffee.  At Starbucks we are committed to sourcing only the highest quality 100% Arabica coffee beans and 99% of our coffee is ethically sourced and accredited by Conservation International under our Coffee and Farmer Equity (C.A.F.E.) Practices programme. C.A.F.E. Practices was launched in 2004 to ensure we create a positive impact for the coffee farming communities we work with. We are really proud to be the largest coffee retailer to reach this 99% ethically sourced coffee milestone.  In the UK, we also have partnered with Fairtrade for over 6 years and all of Starbucks Espresso Roast coffee is accredited by Fairtrade.”

Victoria Moorhouse, Corporate Responsibility Programme Manager at Costa added: “In 2008, we obtained 100% Rainforest Alliance certification for all the coffee Costa’s supplies worldwide. We needed a robust standard which we could use but also source the volumes of coffee we need. The Rainforest Alliance approach really focuses on conserving biodiversity, natural resources, improving the wellbeing of farmers and their families, and also increasing farm productivity, so it marries up to the social, environmental and economic responsibility that Costa strives for.”

But should businesses care about having an ethical approach? Victoria certainly thinks so. She told us: “You can be ethical and profitable at the same time and if you get that right, it’s really a winning combination. It’s about enabling a long term sustainable coffee supply which is critical to the industry. Being ethical doesn’t mean it’s going to cost you more. It’s about being strategic about what you do and making sure it benefits your business in the long term as well.

“Customers do care. There is an expectation on businesses to take an ethical approach. When there are so many brands out there, having a sustainable approach can be a defining factor and give you that edge.”  - Victoria Moorhouse, Corporate Responsibility Programme Manager at Costa.

What does the future hold for coffee?

“As the coffee shop market has grown, so have consumers’ tastes and preferences. Whilst concerned about taste and variety, value for money is also a top priority when consumers are purchasing coffee” says Martin Armitt, Marketing Controller for Aimia Foods.

He continues: “Customers will no longer accept inferior products or limited choices which still come with a high price tag and now expect an outlet’s coffee offering to exceed their expectations when out of the home; considering themselves ‘coffee aficionados’. In order to charge for a premium product to customers, QSR outlets must offer a premium product which reflects the quality expected for a certain price point.

“The main trend set to continue is the popularity of milk-based drinks, such as cappuccinos, flat whites and lattes, which now account for 80% of drinks purchased.  Expert baristas using a traditional espresso machine will craft the milk into deep and sumptuous drinks.  However staff lacking such training, or establishments where this is an additional area of sales rather than a priority, it becomes easy to serve thin, overheated milk. Instead, use an automatic bean to cup machine – which uses good quality granulated skimmed milk – to produce identical quality drinks to a bean to cup machine (which uses fresh milk), with far less operational and cleaning issues (the biggest causes of machine breakdown). 

“Another emerging trend is the rise in popularity of iced coffee frappés, which are especially popular amongst adults and commonly purchased in the morning, especially during the summer months.  The ‘Project Iced 2016 UK’ report from the Allegra World Coffee Portal states that the UK iced beverage market is estimated to be worth £265 million, and accounts for a 3.3% share of the total UK coffee shop market turnover.

“The inclusion of coffee based frappés on a beverage menu has the benefit of attracting a premium price, as well as creating theatre for the establishment during their preparation.”

Simon Remmer, Sales Director at Rombouts shares the optimism and adds that environmental issues are also a concern. He tells us: “The future of coffee is certainly a bright one, centred on quality and sustainability. As such, we expect to see espresso pods that are biodegradable continue to lead the way in the coffee sector as they can be relied upon for consistently good quality coffee at the push of a button, as well as being sustainable for the environment.”

Justin Stockwell, Managing Director of Caffeine Ltd points out another possible direction for coffee: “There’s a big move to position coffee as a sports or health drink, as it’s a natural source of caffeine.  There are lots of caffeine-based energy, health and sports drinks out there - but many have distinctly dodgy ingredients.

Coffee has no such baggage and you’ll find professional sports people loading up with caffeine before training by drinking espressos. 
“Other trends include cold brew coffee and nitrous coffee - where coffee is infused with nitrogen - this is big in the USA. More popular in the UK is the fashion for infusing coffee beans in alcoholic drinks, ranging from beer to rum.”

Monday, 15th May, 2017

Pies & Pasties

Staple menu items in the British food industry, pies and pasties have seen something of a resurgence in recent years with more and more consumers looking to these products as a good lunch offering.

Last month we had the privilege of visiting and judging at the British Pie Awards in Melton Mowbray, the home of the Pork Pie and it didn’t disappoint.
Whether savoury or sweet, there’s something irresistible about breaking through that golden pastry crust and tucking into the succulent filling.

The British Pie Awards have become an institution for pastry-connoisseurs country-wide.
The annual event saw hundreds of pie-makers gather for a celebration and competition of this British culinary favourite.

With all of this growth it is easy to see why the food-to-go sector and QSR sectors are embracing them. In this article, we take a look at both ends of the spectrum with the growing availability of ‘posh’ pies helping to add value to the pies & pasties market as well as improving the image of these hearty snacks.

Monday, 15th May, 2017

Spring Budget Summary

Various rumours were swirling around Westminster in the days before Philip Hammond rose to deliver his first Budget – confirmed as the last time a major fiscal statement will be made in the spring.

The Chancellor, still scarcely nine months in the job, has a reputation as a cautious man and in advance many expected that much of today’s speech would be laying the ground for the Prime Minister to begin formal negotiations for the UK to leave the EU.

That said, the day before Mr Hammond stood up to address the Commons, the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) upgraded Britain’s growth forecast, which inevitably raised questions about whether there was yet room for manoeuvre.

Would the Government prove willing to make money available to shore up struggling services or answer the growing criticism over business rates reforms? Would it be tax rises or surprise giveaways bothering the headline writers?

Economic overview

In his opening statement, the Chancellor said that the resilience of the UK economy had continued to defy expectations and the country had enjoyed robust growth. Indeed, he noted that last year Britain’s growth was behind only Germany’s among the world’s biggest economies.

Mr Hammond confirmed that the Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR) had raised its growth forecasts for the year, with the economy now projected to grow by two per cent in 2017, compared with the previous estimate of 1.4 per cent. The independent body suggests growth next year will be 1.6 per cent and in 2019, 1.7 per cent.

But he made clear that there was no place for complacency in the current climate, acknowledging that levels of debt were still too high (peaking at 88.8 per cent next year), productivity needs to be improved and many families up and down the country continued to feel the pinch almost a decade on from the financial crash.

OBR figures also suggest that inflation will peak at 2.4 per cent this year, with expectations that it will drop off as we approach the end of the decade.
Trying to strike a balance between prudence and positivity, the Chancellor told MPs that the Budget presented an opportunity to put money into public services while ensuring that the nation continued to live within its means.

Crucially, he said, the tax and spending plans would form the bedrock of the EU negotiations ahead.

Business and enterprise

Following several weeks of sustained criticism over the burden that business rates changes would place on many enterprises, Mr Hammond announced a three-point plan which he said would amount to an additional £435million support.

Any firm losing existing rate relief will be guaranteed that their bill will not rise by more than £50 a month next year. In addition, there will be a £1,000 discount for pubs with a rateable value of less than £100,000 and the creation of a £300million fund which will enable local authorities to offer discretional relief.

The Chancellor made clear that a fair tax system was one of the best ways to make Britain a top destination for businesses. He reiterated the commitment made by his predecessor, George Osborne, to bring the Corporation Tax rate down to 17 per cent by 2020. A reduction to 19 per cent will take effect from next month.

Following concerns about the current timetable, he confirmed that quarterly reporting would be delayed for small businesses for a year (at a cost of £280million).

Transport and infrastructure

Acknowledging that congestion was an issue in large parts of the country, Mr Hammond said that some £690million would be made available to tackle traffic problems in urban areas and get local networks moving more freely.

The Chancellor also announced a £270million investment to keep Britain at the forefront of research into biotechnology, robotic systems and driverless cars.
An additional £200million will be ploughed into projects to help secure private sector investment in full-fibre broadband networks and £16million put aside for a 5G mobile technology hub.

Personal tax

Controversially, it was revealed that National Insurance contributions will rise for the self-employed.
Under proposals, Class 4 NICs will increase from nine per cent to 10 per cent next April and to 11 per cent in 2019.
Trying to defend what will undoubtedly be a contentious move, the Chancellor said that the “unfair discrepancy” in contributions between different groups of workers could no longer be justified. Critics have suggested the move has broken with a commitment in the 2015 manifesto.

In more positive news, the personal allowance will rise to £11,500 – the seventh consecutive increase.

The Chancellor reiterated the Government’s previous commitment to increase the allowance to £12,500 and the higher rate threshold to £50,000 by the end of the Parliament in 2020.

There was a boost for road users with confirmation that vehicle excise duty for hauliers and the HGV road user levy will both be frozen.
The Chancellor also announced there would be no change to the previous planned duties on alcohol and tobacco. There will, however, be a new minimum excise duty on cigarettes based on a £7.35 packet price.

Pensions and savings

In what is likely to be an unpopular move, Mr Hammond confirmed that the tax-free dividend allowance for shareholders would be cut from £5,000 to £2,000 as of April 2018.

The Treasury said that the change would “ensure that support for investors is more effectively targeted”, but critics fear it will could further hurt entrepreneurs.

Public spending

Mr Hammond had faced some pressure from his own MPs to plough more revenue into public services.In an attempt to address criticism that institutions were buckling beneath the strain, the Chancellor confirmed an extra £260million for improving school buildings and funding for an additional 110 free schools (on top of the 500 previously announced). There has been some controversy, however, that some of these are set to be selective.In an attempt to address the mounting crisis in social care, Mr Hammond announced there would be an extra £2billion in funding over the course of the next three years.  A Green Paper will be published later this year with a view to drawing up a long-term funding plan.

Tax evasion, avoidance and aggressive tax planning

The Chancellor said that a fair tax system required people to pay their dues and a series of measures to curb abuses of the system are expected to raise an
additional £820million for the Treasury.

A raft of measures to tackle non-compliance were announced, including preventing businesses converting capital losses into trading losses, curbing abuse of foreign pension schemes, introducing UK VAT on roaming telecoms services and imposing new financial penalties for professionals who help facilitate a tax avoidance arrangement that is later defeated by HM Revenue & Customs.


In his closing remarks, Mr Hammond struck an optimistic tone. Whatever the uncertainties surrounding Brexit, he told MPs that the UK should be confident that our best days lie ahead of us.It would be fair to say that the Budget was not strewn with giveaways, but the Chancellor did try and take the sting out of some of the main criticisms levelled at the Government in recent months – including its handling of business rates reform and the sluggish response to a mounting care crisis.

That said he is also likely to have stirred up fresh controversies and the decision to increase National Insurance for the self-employed is perhaps evidence that in the current climate tough choices will still have to be made.

Wednesday, 19th April, 2017
We discuss the developments in the world of catering

Mobile and Outside Catering

We discuss the developments in the world of catering

The Dream

“Independence, nomadic freedom, the variety of places and customers is mind-blowingly fun and interesting” says Henry Kemp, Founder of Lovabite.
Street food is as old as civilisation and means bringing great and affordable food to the people. But is life on the road right for everyone? “I would recommend anyone looking to start almost any food business to get psychiatric help or failing that, try mobile catering first” says Geoff Dixon from Saucy Fries. He continues: “Mobile catering offers you the opportunity of paid sampling, market research and trial, so that you can adjust your menu and pricing then get feedback that you cannot get away with as much in a fixed location. It is also an environment where there will be a lot of invaluable trade banter and help from other food sellers, when you are all numb from the cold and the rain going sideways, that you cannot get in a fixed location with a closed door. You will find what sort of customer likes your product, so will have a better idea where a land based unit should be based on that. You will also know what size place you can get away with. Your margins will be obvious too so you know what land based unit you can afford – if any. By then you will know many of the pitfalls and the economies that can make the more expensive fixed unit more cost effective. Obviously set up costs are a fraction for mobile units, therefore lower risk and you are only signing up to a day, not a ten year lease.”
“Mobile catering setups are becoming an increasingly popular provision for caterers around the country” says Ian Harbinson Product Marketing Manager at Burco Commercial.  “Offering operators the opportunity to generate a greater income during the warmer summer months and put on special events for key occasions throughout the year, ensuring the food and beverage provision is undertaken correctly is vital to making the most of this opportunity.”

The Trends
For Olly Kohn, Co-founder of The Jolly Hog, standards in the market are high and customers know what they want. He explains: “Consumer’s expectations have really risen in the past few years. They are looking for an experience. Many demand restaurant standard food – even when they’re in the field! You can’t assume just because it’s not plated up nicely it should look less appealing or taste any different.”

“The flavour trend is … choice of flavour” says Geoff Dixon. “Street food got trendy, so apart from traditional vans on industrial estates and laybys, venues with a number of street food outlets tend to have new start-ups mingled in with the white vans, offering a great variety of tasty foods and flexing their culinary muscles. They serve a great variety of flavours of food from around the world to whet any appetite. But people still love the standard burgers too!”
We asked Henry Kemp more about what the people are looking for. “Latest flavour trends still seem to be dominated by burgers, curries, Mexican, Middle Eastern, and Korean options. I wish I could say local sustainable British sourced food was in the top three, because that’s what we do! This category is the driver of UK farmers markets and it is at odds with street food in the UK. We are a farmer’s market street food company, which is kind of on an uphill fight to get custom, especially as higher quality ingredients require a higher price point. Those that get what we are doing, love it. But many just make a beeline for a burger.”

He adds: “Streetfood has advantages over fixed premises in terms of alternative offerings. To even hope to get a place at a market/event you need a differentiated offering. That can be a curse as much as a panacea though. Rigid lines between hot food, soups, and drinks can limit diversification. A different problem is for instance when offering food which is not accepted as healthy by many due to fashion. We do cheese toasties with real sourdough bread and artisan cheese, highly nutritious and unprocessed. But we often hear – ‘oh that got to be so many calories, I couldn’t’ - half an hour later they will be eating junk food. We believe in educating people about good food, but only worth it if they are ready to listen.”

The Training
“All staff need to go through the hygiene training and take it seriously whatever food they are doing” says Geoff Dixon. “Not only is it a requirement but you need to have the confidence that you are not going to make anyone ill. You can scupper your reputation far too easily as well. A spotless clean unit and professionalism inspires confidence and increases sales. Every potential mobile location will want to see your insurance cover, so always have it with you or be prepared to be sent back home after getting up at 5am. You also need to train staff not to need the loo for at least 10 hours.”
Henry Kemp reiterates the importance of taking hygiene seriously. “It’s a question of customer safety above all. It’s useful to imagine the strictest health inspector visiting daily. We need to be ahead of the game on safety. Also, we use gas. Gas safety training and vigilance is therefore essential. Using electricity shouldn’t be taken for granted either. It’s not just plug in and go, especially outside with electricity. You need to consider moisture, trip hazards and charge build up. For instance, many people don’t know that leaving a cable coiled up makes an electro-magnet that can get so hot it melts the cable!”
How to add value
As with any business, adapting to change is vital for survival. Geoff Dixon gives some advice on how to add value. “Be the best at whatever food you are doing. Research, research, research. There will probably be great food of your type being done elsewhere in the world, with a fantastic slant you have not thought of. Go on more courses if you need to. Get decent signage. Don’t buy a tent that is going to blow away in the first gust of wind. Develop a good brand name that everyone knows and loves so it has value. Get a logo. Turn up regularly for your regular customers. Look at how you can save money without cutting corners, so your business shows a healthy profit. Try to have a unique slant and play to it.”
It may be time to get out those old math’s books, according to Henry Kemp. “With metrics you can see what the customer wants and comes back for without guessing” he says. “Do the numbers. I mean crunch the heck out of them. We traders need to know markup, margin and the difference for every serving. Cash flow is king, so you can’t live in the land of the blind. Do cash flow projections religiously. Being an independent mobile trader is no different to any other business. You need to manage everything just as a huge multinational corporation does - maybe even more precisely and ethically. It’s a riskier startup business! The saving grace is as a sole trader, accounts are simple compared to limited companies.”
Olly Kohn tells us how consistency is key: “Our main aim is to create a food destination that people want to visit again and again, because it delivers quality food and a fun, lively experience. Building atmosphere is key to making sure we achieve a high dwell time. We do this by adding elements of food theatre like carving a hog and music with our opera singing chef.”

The Equipment
As with any new venture, choosing the right equipment can make or break your business. Geoff Dixon gives us his advice:  “We chose a route needing the least equipment possible. Nobody is keen on stinky, noisy generators in a relaxed food environment. So we opted for LPG and a small battery to power the sink pump. Luckily our only packaging is a cone that folds flat so takes little space. But again research is key. See what is out there, go on food trade forums and ask people who have been doing the same as yours the best kit and the pitfalls. Does the pilot light blow out every five minutes? Does the water get hot enough? Does the ice cream melt?”

With so much equipment available to mobile caterers, it may take some trial and error. Henry Kemp explains: “Equipment, is the source of so much joy and pain! When starting out say we buy a rice steamer, a ban-marie, whatever, and we think we are sorted. The thing is equipment is never just right for our needs first time out. So the costs of equipment are very dangerous to fledgling startups cash flow. You buy some equipment - but you should factor on the cost four times over: once for getting it wrong, twice for maintenance/servicing & certifying, thrice for repair, forth for replacement. Equipment is super critical because it affects you peak performance capacity. Mobile trading is variable. When you do get big queues you need to be primed to turn over covers fast enough. If your equipment is wrong, your process has no chance. This is everything to success - other than quality safety and marketing of course.”
We asked Sam Walker, Business Development Manager at Biopac to talk us through the packaging options. “Mobile and outside caterers face increasing environmental challenges, as customers now expect sustainably sourced food and drink. Biopac’s range of biodegradable packaging helps meet this expectation. Making your entire product more environmentally friendly, further demonstrating your commitment to protecting the environment.

“One of our most popular products with mobile and outside caterers are trays. An open food tray is perfect for customers eating on the go. We have a variety of different options, all of which are very kind to the environment.

• Card Trays – These are made from an FSC approved virgin material. Ideal for quick serve street food. Fully compostable, and stronger than recycled board.

• Sugarcane Trays – These are also compostable and stronger than the card trays so perfect for heavier foods. The key feature of these, compared to the non-environmentally friendly equivalent – polystyrene – is that they eliminate sweating, so no soggy chips or oily residue.

• Palm Trays – Fully sustainable and compostable, these are made from individual leaves which are collected and pressed to make each tray unique. These are very popular with street food traders, their stylish look makes them ideal for special occasions such as weddings.”

“When planning a hot beverage offering at a pop-up or mobile bar, the key is often in considering the type of equipment used to produce the hot beverage” says Ian Harbinson Product Marketing Manager at Burco Commercial. He adds “With a requirement to be mobile, yet also to produce water at a consistently hot temperature, operators should carefully consider the suitability of their equipment prior to purchasing.

“It is not just the physical food offering and production that needs to be considered at when planning mobile and outside catering, but also the cleanliness and hygiene of staff and customers too. With this in mind, the provision of hand wash facilities and waste disposal units is essential.”

As always, proper planning is essential. David Watts, Buffalo Brand Manager for Nisbets explains: “If mobile and outside catering units are to ensure success from day one, then it’s essential for them to spend time carefully planning which pieces of equipment they will need to deliver their menu beforehand.

“With space often at such a premium within mobile kitchens, versatile pieces of kit that can be used for multiple tasks are some of the best bits of equipment that mobile caterers can choose.

”It’s important to note that for reliability and consistency even the smallest of mobile catering units should invest in a commercial, rather than a domestic model – ensuring their grill is built to last.”

The Future
So what does the future hold for mobile and outside catering? “People are looking for new experiences, both culinary and in life” says Olly Kohn. “They are attending more events and eating when they get there. Hopefully this means continued growth in the food to go sector. For us, it is going to be a busy year. Our plan is to work hard and have as much fun as we can along the way. We’ve carefully targeted the events where The Jolly Hog has a presence and over time built a very loyal audience of brand ambassadors.”

Henry Kemp builds on Olly’s point and adds: “Mobile and outdoor catering has seen an explosion in the UK in the last five years. I think this was redressing a void in the market, on the continent, and globally mobile has been much bigger. I think now its hit a saturation point, and traders are seeing generally an effect in drop off in trade. There needs to be a rebalancing between market organisers and traders. Organisers are expecting fees commensurate with the best days of trading, but traders need reasonable rates to even make a living. Too many organisers are happy just to bring in green traders, who don’t know the numbers and end up losing out as well as affecting established traders livelihoods. Ten percent of takings doesn’t sound much, but that equates to at least twenty percent of profit. The majority of markets take fixed fees which equate to more like twenty percent of takings on off peak days- potentially forty percent of profit. I think this needs to change.”
Geoff Dixon finishes on a final note: “With the quality and range increasing all the time, more and more customers are going to buy street food more often. It offers much more selection, is not mass produced but still often cheaper. I personally think mobile food is going to expand into and take over the takeaway & delivery sector in a huge way before long, but if I told you how, I would have to kill you.”

Monday, 10th April, 2017

Cold Drinks Review 2017

We review the cold drinks on offer in the UK

Cold Drinks Review

The first marketed soft drinks appeared in the 17th century as a mixture of water and lemon juice sweetened with honey.
Over 300 years later, the cold drinks landscape has developed massively. Soft drinks has become an incredibly dynamic category with a diverse customer base and a huge number of trends to cater for.

British consumers have continued to shift towards healthier, low calorie drinks over the last few years with the Government’s decision to introduce the Soft Drinks Industry Levy (otherwise known as the sugar tax) as a key part of its plan to combat childhood obesity.

Categories perceived as “healthy” have experienced impressive growth as a result of consumers becoming more educated about what goes into their drinks – people now have a ‘healthy scepticism’ about a product’s actual ingredients and no longer accept what the company says.

Yet, soft drinks is a constantly evolving category and the prospects for carbonates, juice and concentrates are still very positive.

Big brands continue to help shape choice with Coca-Cola remaining the biggest-selling brand in the soft drinks category.

Adult soft drinks are enjoying a strong growth, much of this trend has been attributed to consumers looking for healthier, more interesting options and the increasing move towards drinking less alcohol.

In relation to the growth in adult soft drinks, understated but always chic, the G&T is suitable for almost any occasion. Tonic water, always the underdog to gin, has been given a flavour make-over and now occupies a trendy niche of its own. We take a look at the broad range of tonics making it one of the fastest growing soft drinks in the UK.

Meanwhile, coconut water appears poised to take on a new role as an ingredient, with new carbonates and sports drinks highlighting their coconut water base. Furthermore, Birch Tree Water and Aloe Vera are also among the emerging plant based drinks.

Taking all this into consideration, the QuickBite team got to work testing the broad spectrum of cold drinks the UK market has to offer, with the aim of uncovering what products outlets should look to add to their shelves and countertops to tempt customers……

In order to read more on our Cold Drinks Review please subscribe & download…

Monday, 10th April, 2017


We explore the potential hazards in commercial kitchens and how businesses can fight back.

The threats of microbiological, biological and chemical agents of disease lurk around the corner in every commercial kitchen. Effective mitigation of this threat is not only vital to protect business continuity, but is imperative to safeguard public health.
Two-thirds of all life on earth is invisible. Whilst most of the micro world is harmless to humans, understanding the variety of dangers in the kitchen will certainly help businesses provide a safe platform for their customers.
To help us, we’ve invited some top experts and industry voices. Joining us this month: 
Bradley Smythe, Food Standards Agency – the UK Government body responsible for protecting public health in relation to food.
Dee Ward-Thompson, Technical Manager at the British Pest Control Association – the BPCA represents professional pest controllers of public health and nuisance pests, providing training, research and industry insight.
Deborah Bland, Hospitality Marketing Lead at Diversey Care UK & Ireland - a global leader in food safety and security, facility hygiene and product protection.
Rag Hulait, UK Director of Sales at Monika – a leading supplier of safety monitoring technological solutions for the foodservice industry.
Peter Alsworth, Chemical Sales Director at Winterhalter – specialist provider of warewash machines and solutions to the catering and foodservice industry.
Poor food hygiene can have far reaching consequences, Bradley Smythe from the Food Standards Agency explains: “Businesses selling and supplying food with poor food hygiene practices could be putting their customers at risk of food poisoning and could be liable to enforcement action including formal requests to make improvements. Where there is an imminent risk of injury to health, inspectors can immediately close the premises and the business could face prosecution for breaches of legislation.”
But the financial risks shouldn’t be ignored either as Rag Hulait from safety monitoring technology company, Monika explains: “The outbreak of a food borne illness caused by poor hygiene in a catering operation can be significantly more damaging than to the business reputation alone. With costs often running into tens of thousands of pounds, legal proceedings being a lengthy process and the food standards authorities subsequently maintaining a close eye on an operation, the impact on a catering provision and the operators themselves can be enormous.”
“The biggest risk is the introduction and spread of infections that can cause illness to customers and staff. If these occur, they not only cause suffering but can lead to disruption to the ongoing business” says Deborah Bland, Hospitality Marketing Lead at Diversey Care UK & Ireland, a global leader in food safety and security, facility hygiene and product protection. But infection is not the only risk as Deborah explains: “They can also adversely affect the reputation of the business and in the most extreme cases lead to regulatory sanctions and, ultimately, forced closure.”
Bradley Smythe agrees and adds: “The Food Hygiene Rating Scheme makes it easier for consumers to choose places with good hygiene standards when they’re eating out or shopping for food. The food hygiene rating tells them about the hygiene standards in restaurants, pubs, cafés, takeaways, hotels, supermarkets and other places they go to for food. If poor hygiene practices are observed during an inspection by an Officer it will be reflected in a low score which can be visible to customers. A poor score could have implications on a business’s reputation.” 
It’s not just bacteria or the health inspectors that will come knocking if poor food hygiene practises are followed. Dee Ward-Thompson, Technical Manager at the British Pest Control Association, tells us of another potential visitor: “The risks posed by pests in any food handling premises are diverse – the spread of disease, damage to property (including foodstuffs), adverse public opinion, damage to reputations, the risk (and expense of) prosecution and, taken to its extreme, even closure of the premises, and perhaps with it the business.”
Dee continues: “There are a few pest species that are particularly hazardous because of their habits and dispersal, mainly rats, mice and cockroaches, which can spread throughout the entirety of a kitchen looking for food and harbourage. This ‘behaviour’ brings the pests into contact with a variety of areas, including worktops, food storage areas and production areas.
“It is likely that these pests have previously been living in unhygienic areas such as sewers, drains and waste areas so will potentially transfer harmful bacteria to surfaces around your kitchen.

“House flies are another major problem to food businesses. While often not recognised for having a serious impact on public health, flies can spread diseases because they feed freely on human food and any types of waste and faeces. Flies pick up disease-causing organisms, making them a pest you do not want in any kitchen.” 
“In these days of social media no establishment can risk bad publicity. Even staff uniforms can tell a story” says Peter Alsworth, Chemical Sales Director at Winterhalter – specialist provider of warewash machines and solutions to the catering and foodservice industry.

The legal side
By Bradley Smythe, Food Standards Agency
(Full separate page or two pages side by side if too big)
The most important food hygiene regulations for Food Businesses are:
• Regulation (EC) No. 852/2004 on the hygiene of foodstuffs
• Regulation (EC) 178/2002 which lays down the general principles and requirements of food law
• The Food Safety and Hygiene (England) Regulations 2013 (as amended) (and equivalent regulations in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland)*
These set out the basic hygiene requirements for all aspects of food businesses, from their premises and facilities to the personal hygiene of their staff.
There are special requirements for rooms where food is prepared, treated or processed. The design and layout of the room must allow good food hygiene practices, including protection against contamination between and during tasks. These apply to floors, walls, ceilings, windows, doors, surfaces, and washing equipment.
Businesses must ensure that food is handled hygienically so that it is protected from harmful deterioration and contamination from the moment it is received, right through storage, preparation, cooking and serving.
One of the key requirements of the law is that businesses must be able to show what they do to make or sell food that is safe to eat and have this written down. This is known as a food safety management system and is based on the principles of HACCP (hazard analysis and critical control point).
Businesses must:
• Keep up-to-date documents and records relating to their procedures
• Review their procedures if you change what you produce or how they work.
There are packs available from the FSA that can help businesses put in place a food safety management system, these include;
• Safer food, better business – England and Wales
• CookSafe and RetailSafe – Scotland
• Safe catering pack – Northern Ireland
Information on the legal requirements for food safety and hygiene can be found online at food.gov.uk and businesses may also wish to contact the Environmental Health service at their local authority for advice.
For more information:
Food businesses must make sure that any staff who handle food are supervised and instructed and/or trained in food hygiene in a way that is appropriate for their work activity and should enable them to handle food safely. There is no legal requirement to attend a formal training course or get a qualification, although many businesses may want their staff to do so. The necessary skills could be obtained in other ways, including on-the-job training, self-study or relevant prior experience.
For more information:

By Dee Ward-Thompson, Technical Manager at the British Pest Control Association
(Full separate page or two if too big)

The regulatory framework (principally, the Food Safety Act 1990 and the Food Hygiene Regulations 2005 made under it) deems food unsafe if it is considered to be injurious to health or unfit for human consumption. It lays down general hygiene requirements for all food business operators.
The layout, design and construction of food premises should permit good food hygiene practices including protection against contamination and, in particular, adequate pest control.
The procedures should be based upon the Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point (HACCP) principle generally. This identifies processes, which are most hazardous, so measures can be taken to reduce risk.
Pest management is part of the Good Manufacturing Practices (GMP) for food businesses, which is a prerequisite for the HACCP-based procedures in place.
Effective pest management programmes should not only prevent the introduction of pests anywhere on a food site but also reduce the conditions that may encourage pest presence or facilitate their survival should they establish a presence.
Hygiene ratings can be seriously affected if regulations are not met or if a problem is ignored.
Poor ratings can have major repercussions to the reputation of any food business – damage can be devastating often irreparable.
Pests are in general attracted by food and warmth and that’s why every premises involved in the provision of food should have a robust hygiene system in place.
That covers cleaning, storage and preparation and should also involve pest proofing work combined with regular inspections.
Owners of food outlets who regard it as a peripheral matter or an unnecessary expense are taking a massive risk.
Customers who spot any sign of an infestation, or who are perhaps affected by bacteria caused by contaminated food, will run a mile and won’t be back.
They’re also likely to tell the world and his wife, post damaging online reviews and probably inform the authorities.
It’s therefore far better, and potentially much cheaper, for businesses to be proactive, rather than reactive, when it comes to pest control.
If you know where to look and how to monitor, most pests are easy to detect.
Evidence such as droppings, insect skin casts and damage rodents may cause are all signs of pest activity.
The best approach is prevention and this is where the expertise of a professional pest controller is best.
Advice on proofing and hygiene to prevent the ingress of rodents or insects should be sought and followed, such as sealing of gaps large enough to allow rodents access and the fitting of fly screens.
Insects can be more difficult to detect if pest control contractors do not have monitors located in the correct locations. Many are cryptic and nocturnal pests, which makes monitoring a key part to any pest control programme.
Any pest can be difficult to control where the contractor and site have poor communication and/or do not carry out recommended proofing and hygiene activities.
Unfortunately, there is no magic wand and so contractor recommendations must be completed to assist in the control and prevention of repeated infestations.
In general, a food business should have integrated pest management systems in place which include having the building proofed to a very high standard to prevent pests gaining access in the first place.
The proper disposal of food waste is also important as pests will quickly collect where waste food is left hanging around.
It’s important to ensure pest management is carried out by a professional company.
Properly qualified technicians will ensure food premises are as protected as they can be and are likely to combine expert advice with a review of a company’s procedures.
Pest management should not be a simple box-ticking exercise and every business handling food needs to ensure controllers have the right credentials.
Every member of the British Pest Control Association is required to hold key qualifications – an initiative that delivers vital peace of mind.
They’ll be CEPA Certified, which means they operate to high standards recognised throughout Europe, also hold appropriate insurance allowing them to work safely at any premises and will have been assessed on a regular basis to ensure they provide a thoroughly professional and consistent service.

Any sort of business inspection can be daunting. However, a food safety inspection can be especially intimidating. But it need not be if procedures are followed from the start. Deborah Bland explains:
“Good cleaning and hygiene should be embedded into the tasks that any business serving food undertakes as part of its food safety regime. Appropriate cleaning processes, properly implemented with the right products at the right intervals should ensure that hygiene levels meet the standards required during a food safety inspection.”
Knowing what inspectors will look for can help alleviate any anxiety. Bradley Smythe, Food Standards Agency gives us the official low down: “During a food hygiene inspection, an Environmental Health Officer will check if a business produces food that is safe to eat. To do this, they will look at:
• the premises
• the kinds of food they make or prepare
• how they work
• their food safety management system
“The inspector will assess the business against the legislative requirements and therefore food businesses should be able to demonstrate their compliance through implementation of their food safety management system. As these inspections are usually unannounced food businesses need not do anything further than what they do on a daily basis. 
“Inspectors will always give feedback, which means if they identify any issues during an inspection they will advise the business on how these can be avoided. If the business is asked to take any action as a result of the inspection, they must be given the reasons in writing. If the inspectors decide that the business is breaking a law, they must tell them what that law is and should give a reasonable amount of time to make changes, except where there is an immediate risk to public health.
“Businesses that sell or supply food directly to consumers will also receive a Food Hygiene Rating.  This is based on three of the areas assessed at the inspection. Each of these three elements is essential for making sure that food hygiene standards meet requirements and the food served or sold is safe to eat.
• Hygienic food handling including preparation, cooking, re-heating, cooling and storage
• Cleanliness and condition of facilities and buildings including having appropriate layout, ventilation, hand washing facilities and pest control, to enable good food hygiene
• Management of food safety: systems or checks in place to ensure that food sold or served is safe to eat, evidence that staff know about food safety, and the food safety officer has confidence that standards will be maintained in future.
“A hygiene rating from ‘0 – urgent improvement necessary’ at the bottom to ‘5 – very good’ at the top, will be given based on the hygiene standards found at the time of inspection.
“Businesses will be provided with a sticker showing their rating which they can display to customers. In Wales and Northern Ireland it is mandatory for businesses to display their rating in a prominent place at their premises. All ratings are published online at www.food.gov.uk/ratings.”

Equipment and training
“Hygiene should be an integral part of training and education for all members of staff, whether new or existing,” says Rag Hulait. 
He continues: “An essential part of a catering setup, all staff must be aware of the legislation and regulation that governs this area, while also given comprehensive and regular training in the process and procedures around ongoing monitoring for hygiene purposes.
“With traditional monitoring systems relying solely on the operator’s ability to accurately record completion, inaccuracy or incorrect logging could be a real issue. However, with modern, automated, remote systems, this has become much less of a concern. Despite this, education should still play a key role in staff training.
“When it comes to equipment and technology, caterers should consider the very latest systems, which are not only designed to provide evidence of due diligence but also maintain kitchen hygiene standards, while streamlining the day to day running of a business. Outdated manual cleaning and hygiene recordings have been proven to be time-consuming and labour intensive at best and at worst, inaccurate and non-compliant with legislation and regulation. By implementing automated technology and the latest systems, operators are able to significantly save on ongoing costs, while also demonstrating full compliance when required.
“Automated digital technology is able to substantially cut down the time associated with manual logging while being fully HACCP compatible, to allow the operator to be able to implement an effective food hygiene system. Helping to avoid the disastrous effects that a food poisoning outbreak can have on a business, a comprehensive digital task logging system provides proof of integrity to government agencies and auditors alike.
“Using wireless technology to record and transmit remotely to a central server, caterers can create a secure record of performance and compliance, helping to make the audit process quicker and cheaper while also being able to streamline kitchen management and efficiency throughout the business. Eliminating the possibility of user-error, especially in a busy kitchen or restaurant, the latest systems automatically record completion of tasks.”
It’s important to remember, teaching your staff the correct way of cleaning is as important as the products you use. Peter Alsworth explains:  “Training on cleaning techniques is important, as staff will use domestic cleaning products at home but they need to understand that the chemicals used in the commercial cleaning are much stronger and require careful handling. These days, concentrates that use special dispensing systems are generally used throughout the industry.
He continues: “Staff should be aware that general cleaning needs to be carried out throughout the day. A cleaning roster identifies equipment and gives a recommended cleaning frequency. This allows staff to get into a routine of cleaning, so it becomes part of the structure of their day.”
But getting to grips with the different types of products you need can be a difficult. We’ve asked Deborah Bland to talk us through them:
Four product types are essential for the majority of daily or routine cleaning and hygiene tasks:
Hand Hygiene Products: First and foremost, everyone handling and preparing food should employ strict hand-hygiene procedures to prevent the risk of spreading any infections. This will include frequent washing of hands, but especially always after going to the toilet and when changing between handling different foods such as uncooked ingredients and cooked/prepared dishes.
Hard Surface Sanitisers (also known as disinfectants): These are used to keep worktops and other food preparation and storage areas clean and hygienic. They are essential to kill and remove pathogens that can cause food-borne illnesses. Food-service sanitisers (without perfume to avoid tainting food) should be used regularly throughout the day and always when changing tasks, such as when switching between raw ingredients, cooked meals or food that will not be cooked (e.g. salads etc.). Most infections are spread by personal or hand contact or by touching previously contaminated surfaces which is why hand hygiene and surface sanitising is so important.
Floor Cleaners: Regular cleaning helps to maintain the appearance of the floor. It also removes food debris that can attract vermin and harbour the bacteria that cause bad smells and illnesses. Keeping floors clean, dry and unobstructed also helps to prevent slips and trips that are among the biggest (and potentially most serious) causes of major accidents and injuries in commercial kitchens.
Dish and Warewashing Products: Keeping cutlery, crockery and cookware clean and hygienic is essential for food safety. It also helps to create a pleasant dining experience and demonstrates that the establishment takes hygiene seriously.
Using the correct detergent/rinse-aid in properly maintained dishwashers will help maintain optimum machine performance, for example to prevent build-up of lime-scale which can otherwise cause unreliability and inefficient performance (scale inside the machine will put a strain on components and “insulate” pipework so that more electricity is needed to heat water to the correct operating temperature, which is inefficient.


Thursday, 16th March, 2017
We discuss how sauces and seasonings can add value

Sauces & Seasonings

We explore the power of sauces and seasonings, with the help of industry experts.

The use of sauces and seasoning in cooking dates back to ancient times. In China, soy sauce has been used for over 5000 years. Spices were used as currency in Asia, North Africa and Europe as early as Neolithic times. And sauces have been used as a meat tenderiser and flavour enhancer since Roman times.

More than ever, food is not just a fuel, it’s an experience. People want to be taken on a global journey of flavour and taste.
So let us help you explore the world of sauces and seasoning. We’ve even invited some industry experts to help us spice things up.

“Spices are like colours: if you mix them all together you get a taste that is akin to the colours black, dark brown, or grey. But if you mix spices judiciously and sparingly—as you would mix yellow and blue to make green—you get a wholly unexpected and beautiful flavour.” ― Clifford Cohen

Joining us this month:

David Bryant, Caroline Falks and Willie Pike from Major International - stock and sauce specialists with over 60 years of experience.
Al Thaker, Marketing Manager, McCormick - a Fortune 1000 company that manufactures spices, herbs, and flavourings for retail, commercial, and industrial markets.

Brian Yip, Director at Wing YIP - a Chinese supermarket chain in the United Kingdom, founded in 1969.

Emma MacDonald, Founder of The Bay Tree - crafters of artisan chutneys, preserves and sauces for over 20 years.

Maureen Suan Neo, Founder of Nonya Secrets - creators of handmade sauces from the Nonyas and Babas of Southeast Asia.

Sophie Lane Fox, Founder of A Little Bit – makers of homemade style natural dressings and sauces.

Why are sauces and seasonings so popular?

Used correctly, sauces and seasonings can whisk the customer away on a culinary experience that transcends borders. It can add a unique taste to dishes, and if done right, can captivate and inspire the clientele. 

The use of sauces and seasonings dates back thousands of years, but what makes them so useful today? And why should we be interested in learning about the new flavour trends?

Maureen Suan Neo from Nonya Secrets says “Most consumers are looking for finished dishes that deliver a memorable experience and this is often down to the careful preparation of the accompanying sauces and seasoning.”

But for Al Thaker from McCormick, it’s all about exposure: “In today’s world of global connectivity, when consumers get to hear about awesome, exciting flavour they don’t just lust after it, they want it on their plates and they want it now. 

Today, people have access to flavour like never before, exposed to new trends at virtually every turn, through social media, food trucks and on TV shows, food blogs and specialty websites and retailers, such is the challenge for operators to stay ahead of the game. 
And that means finding new and exciting ways to seduce a nation of foodies craving flavour adventures and seeking out bolder, more intense and exciting taste experiences from around the world. 
Sauces and seasonings are the perfect way to bring menus to life.”

David Bryant from Major International agrees that travel really has broadened the mind and adds, “The growing desire for more creative recipe concepts and familiarity with world cuisine has lead customers to seek out bolder flavours. This has had a subsequently positive effect on the stocks and sauces market.”

Brian Yip from Wing YIP concurred and told us “One of the main reasons for this is the changing tastes and food preferences in Britain. We are without doubt becoming more experimental, and travel is increasingly influencing food choices.

Provenance is important to British foodies, so we are always looking to expand our range with new and innovative sauces from different regions.”

An advocate for the use of chilli, Brian tells us “chilli is such a versatile sauce. It can be added to dishes to spice them up, or used as a dip for snacks and starters. It can be used to warm winter soups or to add heat to burgers and sausages, fresh from the barbecue.

Because there are so many different types, there are so many different uses, and Britain’s love affair with it isn’t going away.”

Sophie Lane Fox from ‘A Little Bit’ tells us it doesn’t have to be difficult for businesses and adds, “Frequently, customers want new experiences. Sauces are a simple way for operators to deliver a contemporary twist to pique consumer interest.”

What’s popular?

“The key food trends for 2017 all highlight the importance of spice - it’s an ongoing phenomenon” according to Maureen Suan Neo. “This is married to cuisine from around the globe. Operators and consumers continue to look for inspiration from far-flung corners and for something new.”
Sophie Lane Fox concurs with the idea that customers have a taste for something different. She adds, “Exotic global foods are in the press a great deal, although pizza, pasta, and risotto remain amongst the top five eat out food choices. To fulfil these popular choices, A Little Bit is expanding its versatile cooking sauce range with the introduction of two new flavours. These again focus on the inclusion of fresh herbs - capturing a just picked taste and are also gluten free.”

“One trend for this year is Rise & Shine to Global Tastes” says Al Thaker. “Breakfast options with big, global flavours are being sought by a generation of flavour adventurists not content with the same boring breakfast bowl.”

Try warm, sweet congee or a Middle Eastern-inspired breakfast hash – tender chickpeas, ground lamb or beef and roasted vegetables seasoned with a blend of coriander, cumin and fennel – topped with a spicy skhug (pronounced shug) sauce.  This complex Middle Eastern hot sauce is made with Thai bird’s eye chillies, cumin, cardamom, coriander, garlic, parsley, coriander, olive oil and lemon juice. 
Another trend is Plancha: Flat-Out Grilling – hailing from Spain, France’s Basque region, as well as Mexico. The plancha (a thick, flat slab of cast iron) is growing in popularity around the world for creating a sizzling, smoky sear-flavoured crust. 

Grillers can easily use the plancha with meats, seafood and vegetables, paired with bold sauces, rubs and glazes.Discover the new cuisine for the 21st century. Melding Eastern Mediterranean ingredients with Western European classics creates delights such as Persian Minestrone – Persian Ash-e reshteh meets Italian minestrone. Then there’s Sweet on Pepper – Enter the new sweet heat: with an up-front bite and lingering sensation, peppercorns are finally capturing attention.

Imagine Dragon Fruit & Strawberry “Poke” with Pepper Syrup – fresh strawberry and diced dragon fruit salad atop a dollop of peppered whipped cream and crispy wontons.  Poke (pronouced po-kay), is a unique take on Hawaiian poke salad with a drizzle of balsamic-pepper syrup.”

But Director Brian Yip says we shouldn’t forget the old time favourites. He tells us: “Undoubtedly, chilli sauce is having a moment and has been for a while now. In light of this, we’ve increased our range of the spicy stuff over the last few years. Rarely do I walk past a customer without a bottle of chilli sauce in their basket.”

Try something different

“Seasonings are the ideal way to capture customer imagination and zone in on the latest flavour trends. Blending herbs and spices with different yet complementary flavours, they help chefs create tasty, authentic dishes that will make their business stand out from the crowd and bring customers back for more” says Al Thaker.

Seasoning may add taste and monetary value to your food according to Al Thaker. He continues with - “seasoning – guaranteed to capture food lovers’ imaginations and drive profit potential. 

An exciting blend of paprika, smoked paprika, onion, garlic and black pepper packing a very mild heat, with its ease of use and versatility. Seasoning can be sprinkled over chips, fries, wedges or roasties or added as a spicy twist to sweet potato or mash. 

Research shows that 2/3 customers would upgrade their chips to include a flavoured seasoning if it was available and well over half of customers would be more likely to order a side of chips if they were flavoured with a seasoning (60%).  That signifies an easy opportunity to make additional sales volume, which spells extra profit. Seasoned chips sell for between 10p-30p extra per portion and that adds up to profit potential of £11-£40 per jar of Chip Seasoning for the canny operator.”

But is it just flavouring that adds to the experience? We asked Maureen Suan Neo - “Quality is absolutely essential to making the right impression and securing repeat business. Equally important, is being able to deliver authentic sauces that are backed up by an authentic story.”

With customisation high on agendas, it is all about powerful flavour, variety and consistency to help you stand out. With the fabulous global flavours associated with street food and the pop ups now loved by millions, our customers are looking for much more from their food.” says Willie Pike, Major’s Consultant Development Chef for Major.

Willie tells us not to forget vegetarian options - “Adding exciting authentic flavours and giving customers the option to have dishes their way needn’t be difficult or expensive. With a readymade Mari Base or Pan-Asian Broth, you can bring the zing in a variety of easy to do ways. From an Asian noodle broth pot, where caterers can offer a choice of flavour, protein or vegan veggie alternative, to a selection of international flavours for your hot snacks, burgers, koftas hot dogs or even by pimping up your sides, a variety of different slaws or dressings for your salad, these products give you deliciously simple, cost effective and time saving ways to stay ahead of the game.

The beauty of a good readymade should be its powerful flavour profiles and versatility, with one product caterers should be able to generate a multitude of different recipes. This helps to minimize costs and maximise on gain.”

And the future?

With so many flavour options, is there any room for businesses to develop their use of sauces and seasonings? Al Thaker certainly things so. Here are his recommendations:
“Another taste bud-tingling new passion that’s taking hold of the nations’ food lovers is Sriracha, a spicy and tangy chili and garlic paste.  As a sauce it’s achieved almost cult status, from its origins in South East Asian restaurants; some 20 million bottles of Sriracha sauce were sold in 2013 [BBC].
Sriracha Seasoning has a sweet, sour heat with a distinctive garlic kick.  Versatile and simple to use, it allows creativity to flourish and transforms dishes instantly with low risk, adding on-trend appeal while increasing profitability.

You can use it to make up your own Sriracha sauce or paste.  Consistent and easy to incorporate with other ingredients, it can also be added without changing the texture of the dish, so it’s perfect for adding to coatings and batters before deep frying, as well as mixing through rice or pasta dishes.”
“Time-saving is vital in the food-to-go industry; using trusted, quality, ready-made sauces relieves pressure on busy operators, provides consistency and offers real value through brand association” says Emma MacDonald.

But Emma predicts that consumers may miss the taste of home - “There is a wide variety of interesting global flavours appearing on menus across the country. With consumers’ love of spice continually evolving, flavours from the East will remain popular. I also predict that we’ll see a return to British and European sauces, these classics are comforting, familiar and worth revisiting.”
Wing Yip Director, Brian Yip, said: “As curries and stir-fries become staple on menus, outlets should think about offering alternative dishes which are growing in popularity, such as Pad Thai and Ramen.
Readymade dipping sauces and curry pastes offer timesaving solutions, while seasonings and flavour enhancers including Thai fish sauce, soy sauce and chilli paste will help to complement authentic Oriental dishes.”

“Trends have proven that there is a definite market and demand for even more exotic flavours out there. Pan-Asian Korean, American, and Mexican flavours such as fajita to smoky Applewood and Hickory have been essentials in the sauces market this year, and show no signs of slowing down for the year to come. However, hot on their heels, old world Middle Eastern and Northern African flavours are becoming increasingly sought after” says Caroline Falks, NPD at Major International.

If you’d like to share your ideas on how best to utilise sauces and seasonings, we’d love to hear from you. You can email us at editor@mvhmedia.co.uk or tweet us @quickbitemag


Tuesday, 31st January, 2017
FPA Awards

Food Packaging Association Awards Dinner 2017

The biggest and brightest FPA awards night ever was enjoyed by 450 FPA members and their guests in the splendid surroundings of The Grand Hotel Brighton

FPA AWARDS WINNERS 2017 - Brighton Rocks! 

The biggest and brightest FPA awards night ever was enjoyed by 450 FPA members and their guests in the splendid surroundings of The Grand Hotel Brighton, with the winners of the 2017 FPA Awards announced by celebrity guest comedian, Jo Caulfield - hailed as Britain’s funniest woman.

From the pre-dinner cocktails and canapés to the superb three course meal, and the after party sing-along, the evening was, as always, was a huge success.  The generosity of FPA members once again exceeded expectations with more than £5000 raised for our new charity Great Ormond Street Hospital. 

FPA Chairman Howard Colliver reported on a bumper year for entries, especially for the two new Awards, Food & Drink Manufacturer and Rising Star.  Not only is each award highly competitive, but it is a great credit to the FPA that the panel of independent judges, who volunteer their time , are leading experts in their fields, ensure objectivity and uphold the credibility of the FPA Awards.

Huge thanks go to all our sponsors for the afternoon and evening, without whom so much fun would just not be possible: Afternoon Tea: Euro Packaging and Jena; Pre-Dinner Cocktails and Midnight Snack: Wrap Films Systems; the wine: Huhtamaki, Coveris UKFC, LINPAC Packaging, Tri-Star Packaging and Wrapex; the Casino: CMC DayMark, napkins: Swan Mill Paper Co.

FPA Manufacturer of the Year 2017 as voted for by FPA distributor members and sponsored by Bunzl Catering Supplies
Highly Commended: amipak, SCA Hygiene Products

FPA National Distributor of the Year 2017 as voted for by FPA manufacturer members and sponsored by SCA Hygiene Products
Highly Commended: Bunzl Catering Supplies, Socius Network, Alliance National

FPA Regional Distributor of the Year 2017 as voted for by customers and sponsored by Northwood Hygiene Products
Highly Commended: Magenta, London Catering & Hygiene Solutions

FPA Foodservice Retailer of the Year 2017 as voted for by FPA members and sponsored by Deb

FPA Food & Drink Manufacturer of the Year 2017 as voted for by FPA members and sponsored by Bidvest Foodservice

FPA Foodservice Operator of the Year Award 2017 as voted by FPA members and sponsored by Dart Products Europe

FPA Product Innovation Award 2017 as judged by an independent panel and sponsored by CEDO
SMITH ANDERSON for Deli 2 Go Hot Paninis and Toasties
Highly Commended: Smith Anderson, for Greggs Pizza Pocket, Tri-Star Packaging for Gourmet 24.7, Rapid Action Packaging for Open Sandwich Box, Rapid Action Packaging for Strip Laminated HandwRap, Euro Packaging for Meal Deal Combination Carrier,
Ones to Watch: Frugalpac for Frugalcup, Huhtamaki UK for Future Smart and Euro Packaging for Meal Deal Combination Carrier

Corporate Social Responsibility Award 2017 as judged by an independent panel and sponsored by SEDA
BRAKES for Meals and More campaign
Highly Commended: Bidvest Foodservice

FPA Sustainability Award 2017 as judged by an independent panel and sponsored by RPC BPI Refuse
NOVAMONT for dual use compostable carrier bag
Highly Commended:  Delphis Eco and Vegware

The FPA Inaugural Rising Star Award to KATHERINE FLEET, RPC Group

Chairman’s Award 2017 to NEIL WHITTALL, Huhtamaki UK

Helen McFarlane – McDonald’s Restaurants
Iain Ferguson – Co-op
Trewin Restorick – Hubbub
Paul Rhodes – Greggs
Professor Rob Holdway – Brunel University and Giraffe Innovation
Paul Vanston – INCPEN
Derek Robertson – Keep Scotland Beautiful

Matt Spencer – Caffe Nero
Karen Graley – Waitrose
Dick Searle – Packaging Federation
Paula Chin – Pret A Manger
Phil Chadwick – Packaging News
Nehal Thakkar – KFC
Mike Hanson – Baxter Storey

Wednesday, 4th January, 2017

Burger Time!

The history of the burger is somewhat a mystery...

A popular story being that when the renowned beef from Hamburg came to the US with the influx of German immigrants in the 19th century, the Hamburg steak came with them.

The beef soon became popular with the hungry workers of America’s industrial revolution. But the steak proved difficult to eat whilst standing, until an unknown culinary genius began serving the steak between two buns. It was at that moment the burger was born.

The modern day burger comes in hundreds of varieties, with taste preferences being inspired from every corner of the globe.Despite the uncertainty of its origins, one thing is for sure – the burger is here to stay.

We’ve invited some big names in the industry to help us sink our teeth into the burger market. Our contributors include:

Darragh Gilhawley, Head of Business Development at Big Al’s Foodservice – part of the Kepak Group, one of Europe’s leading meat producers.

Willie Pike, Consultant at Major International – Willie is Major International’s Consultant Development Chef, renowned chef and brand ambassador. 

Simon Cannell, Managing Director at Speciality Breads – Speciality Breads are artisan bakers to the foodservice industry.
Aine Melichar, Brand Manager for Kerrymaid – Kerrymaid is a leader in the food and drink industry – with operations in 100 sites across six continents.

Sam Walker, Business Development Manager at Biopac – one of the UK’s leading developer and suppliers of eco-friendly packaging and catering disposables.

Hugh Judd, Senior Foodservice Manager at the Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board (AHDB) -  an independent statutory levy board, funded by farmers, growers and others in the supply chain.

Nigel O’Donnell, Managing Director at Meadow Vale Foods - a leading supplier of processed poultry products to the retail-grocery, and foodservice sectors.

The Hype

Nowadays, burgers are available from the most expensive restaurants in the UK - to burger vans parked at the side of busy roads. Sold in thousands of variations and combinations to target all dietary requirements, the burger is an incredibly versatile addition to the quick service restaurant (QSR) market.

But just how popular is the burger?

“The burger market is estimated to be worth £2.8b” says Darragh Gilhawley from Big Al’s Foodservice. He adds “The rise of American and diner-style outlets are a big reason for this surge in burger sales. Consumers aged 18-24 are the biggest group of customers pushing this burger trend and their search for new and innovative ways to eat, make the easily personalised burger an obvious attraction.
This, coupled with consumers’ increasingly fast-paced lifestyles represents a huge opportunity for foodservice operators to exploit. Burgers are important to the QSR market because they can be prepared and served quickly when bought in ready to cook.”

It’s not just American and diner-style outlets that are going big. According to Chef Willie Pike from Major International - “The burger boom is largely thanks to the rise of street food and the popularity of pop ups, which are loved by millions. Not only have burgers had a dressing up and gone gourmet, but customers now look for on-trend flavour, and the option to have it their way. The option to customize has become a vital factor when it comes to staying competitive.”

The media giant, The Independent, recently asked food technology app, Deliveroo, which foods were most popular in cities across the UK? According to their data, 28 out of 60 UK cities favoured the burger.

Darragh Gilhawley supports the notion that burgers are on-trend, and adds “Burgers are increasingly served as a ‘premium’ option that can be garnished with everything from pulled pork to cheeses, relishes and sauce and this has added to their rise in popularity.”

Simon Cannell, Managing Director at Speciality Breads tells us - “Burgers have become vital within foodservice pretty much across the board and a menu is incomplete without at least one on it.  The trend has been gathering pace over the last 4-5 years and it’s an incredibly exciting sector.”

For Willie Pike, the proof is in the burger – “You needn’t look further than the high street to see how well these perform. With the traditional beef burger as we once knew it in decline, students are looking for more innovative global options, stemming from street food influences. International flavours, such as Mexican and Korean, are creeping onto the hot dog and burger scene.”

“The burger boom continues to deliver big profit potential for foodservice operators” says Hugh Judd, Senior Foodservice Manager at the Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board. “The premium burger market is expected to grow by 13% in the next 3–5 years and the competition is fierce, with the number of new openings of gourmet burger outlets beaten only by Italian cuisine in 2017.”

Hugh Judd also said, “Burgers have moved on from their fast food roots, and the demand for better burgers is showing no signs of slowing.
Coarseness of grind, fat to lean content, compactness of patty, and seasoning are all still vital components of the perfect burger. But now, consumers are looking for even more. By offering a cut-specific burger, operators can experiment with texture profiles, and give consumers the premium, quality product they’re looking for.”

Enthusiasm for the burger market is also expressed by Meadowvale Foods, a leading supplier of processed poultry products to the retail-grocery, and foodservice sectors. “The burger segment in the QSR market has performed well in recent years and continues to do so” - says Nigel O’Donnell, Managing Director.

“QSR operators are looking to diversify their burger options as a way of maximising profit. Burgers are a menu staple across the UK, over half of the nation’s foodservice operators will most likely feature a burger on their menu. Burgers are a great way of making profit and have always proved popular amongst consumers.

A Personal Touch

With such importance lying on the innovation and flavours of burgers, it’s vital that each business puts some thought into delivering a unique taste to their customers.

Nigel O’Donnell offers some words of wisdom - “Firstly, the competition in the QSR industry is growing all the time, operators have to ensure they stay ahead of their rivals. Consumer’s tastes are becoming more diverse and varied, as a result of the increase in demand for street food.  Due to this, burgers are becoming more complex in taste and flavour. As a result, this sector is becoming one of the most innovative and creative sectors in the QSR industry.”

Darragh Gilhawley points out - “With 54% of people seeing customisable toppings as indicative of a ‘gourmet’ burger, getting the optional extras right is a great way to add premium to your offer. Finding the perfect topping option for your burger will depend on the meat served. Toppings such as pulled pork and bacon add extra theatre to your burger offering.”

So what other options are there? “Adding exciting authentic flavours and providing the option to customise needn’t be difficult or expensive” says Willie Pike.  “By using a readymade Mari Base or Pan-Asian Broth, caterers can tap into this trend and provide a variety of recipes which are simple to make, delicious and do not break the bank.”

Here’s a few things you can try courtesy of Willie:

“Simply combine a proportion of the base directly into the raw minced meat, brush directly onto your burger or kofta, stir through your condiments or infuse your slaw. With one pot you can create a multitude of different flavours to satisfy all palates.
A spicy Korean pork burger served with a side of Kimchi slaw or a Thai burger with Pan-Asian slaw, are sure to go down a treat. Moreover, with increasingly more people opting for a flexitarian diet, the same principles can be applied to your Veggie option.
How about a Vegetarian Bean Burger pimped up with Fajita and served with Mexican Salsa slaw, Guacamole and chipotle Mayo?”

Aine Melichar, brand manager for Kerrymaid, recommends another taste experience – “Exotic flavour combinations such as Banh Mi – a juicy and exotic Vietnamese-inspired bread using ginger, coriander, lime, pepper and umami.”

There’s certainly a lot of flavours that businesses can experiment with to attract new customers, and add to the customer experience. Simon Cannell is keen for people not to forget the bread we use and added: “Outlets need to give serious thought to the fillings, sides, sauces and of course the quality bread they use. Burgers need to excite - they need to sound delicious, they need to look the part when served and they have to back it up with taste.” 

With the rise in more ethically aware customers, businesses should consider environmentally friendly packaging options. Sam Walker, Business Development Manager at Biopac, tells us of the options – “Burgers need to be kept warm, in packaging which makes the burger look good and prevents the bun from becoming soggy. The old style polystyrene burger boxes are poorly insulated, causing the box to sweat, and the bun to become soggy. Corrugated board is the best alternative due to its insulation and breathability qualities. The standard corrugated burger boxes are however made from a very thick board which comes flat packed so each individual box needs to be assembled. This is not ideal for a quick service food outlet where time is of the essence.

To stand out against the crowd, you need to step away from what everyone else is doing – especially in a crowded marketplace. Presentation is everything, from the packaging it is served in, to the way it is presented in the box when the customer opens it.
Many of our customers, who have been looking to source packaging for their burgers, have said the standard corrugated burger boxes are too small. A high quality ‘gourmet’ burger tends to be a lot taller nowadays. Finding the right size packaging is key. You don’t want to crush the burger to make the box fit. Equally, you don’t want the burger to look too small and rattle around.”

Businesses should also consider serving their burgers with sides for maximising profit according to Nigel O’Donnell.  He emphasises that “No meal is complete without a selection of mouth-watering extras. These can be used to make customers spend that little bit extra.”

The Future

With such an abundance of variety, it’s easy to see why burgers are a UK favourite. But what does the future hold for burgers?
“The UK, and cities in particular, are seeing an influx of pop up style dining experiences, with street food taking on a real prevalence in the food industry” says Darragh Gilhawley.

He tells us “Model Market and BoxPark are both examples of London venues’ new and innovative eating out options, offering a unique dining experience whilst still delivering classic menu options like burgers served with a street food style twist.

The burger market is showing no signs of letting up and outlets which tap into the customisation trend will profit from doing so.
A personal, individual eating experience will continue to thrive among millennial groups, with 2017 likely to see a continuation of unique, street food style options that are flourishing at the moment.”

According to Willie, catering for everyone is vital. “As well as factoring in healthy options, providing burgers which cater for special dietary requirements and deliver on flavour is now more vital than ever. Vegan, vegetarian and gluten free need to be made available and be as appealing as the rest of your offers” he says.

Simon also agrees that businesses need to be open minded and serve a variety of options. He told us - “I think we will see more ethnic twists on burgers, more vegetarian/vegan burgers and I think we will see a lot more focus on provenance of ingredients. 
As burgers continue to be enjoyed by the masses and outlets compete and search for that point of difference over rivals, I think the innovation will only continue in the kitchens.”

What about adding a bit of colour to the mix?

“Chefs should think about offering new formats such as, a Mac ‘n’ Cheese bun option or a rainbow bun – a mix of bright coloured doughs rolled together to form a bagel before being baked - bringing fun and excitement to both children and adults. The new and interesting options are sure to pique customers’ interest” says Anie.

The future certainly looks bright for burgers in the UK according to Darragh Gilhawley. “The burger market is showing no signs of letting up and outlets which tap into the customisation trend will profit from doing so. A personal, individual eating experience will continue to thrive among millennial groups, with 2017 likely to see a continuation of unique, street food style options that are flourishing at the moment.”

Innovation isn’t just a means of profit. It may be vital for survival in the industry. Hugh Judd explains:

“To differentiate their offer, operators need to constantly innovate and find inspiration in new trends to meet consumer demand and stay ahead of their competition.
AHDB’s latest category report, Focus on Foodservice, identifies the trend for cut-specific burgers as a profit opportunity, backed by its research showing that choosing single cuts for burgers, like brisket, significantly improves margin potential.
Mincing trim from the rump, chuck or brisket creates distinct taste and texture profiles, and creates a new premium burger experience for consumers. For millennials who are constantly looking for the next ‘new foodie experience’, cut-specific burgers offer the innovation and authenticity they want.”

“The future of the burger market is huge with more and more consumers becoming more aware and open to the different products out there. Made to demand and personalised products will become key to the markets success as customers look for high quality, reasonably priced and convenient food. With the increase in demand for street food also becoming very popular, I can see a wide range of burgers adopting a street food style over the next year or so, with operators offering burgers with authentic flavours such as a Chicken Katsu Burger” says Nigel O’Donnell.

The demand for new flavours and innovation will mean businesses need to work hard to stay ahead. But the rewards are certainly there for those who dare to experiment and adapt to the voice of the customers.

If you have any ideas for ways to innovate the burger, or would like to share your burger story, we’d love to hear from you. You can email us at editor@mvhmedia.co.uk or tweet us @quickbitemag

Wednesday, 4th January, 2017


Widely viewed as the most important meal of the day, breakfast is a highly lucrative area of foodservice. We look at how you can tap into this market and profit from a sector that is continuing to grow.

The demand for breakfast out of home is booming.

The pace of modern life means that more people are skipping the first meal of the day at home and looking to grab a feed to start their day off while out and about.

This provides the perfect opportunity for food-to-go and quick service restaurants.

With this in mind, we decided to find out how businesses can tap into the lucrative breakfast market.

We also aim to discover what products are available to help you tempt customers and what packaging solutions are on the market to help you cater for the growing demand for breakfast on-the-go.

Industry voices: Daniel Stegmeyer, Executive Assistant and Marketing Manager, WMF Group; Mohammed Essa, General Manager UK & Ireland, Aviko; Nic Townsend, Marketing Manager UK and Ireland, Farm Frites; Stephen Clifford, Head of Marketing, Country Choice; Graham Kille, Managing Director, Frima UK; Rob Blunderfield, Marketing Manager, Parsley in Time; Aine Melichar, Brand Manager, Kerrymaid; Paul Eason, Chef and Business Manager, Pidy UK; Jon Usher, Head of UK Sales and Marketing, Burco Commercial; Nick Pagett, Managing Director, Mom’s Fabulous Foods; Marshall Kingston, Senior Brand Manager – Out of Home, Tetley, and Grace Keenan, Foodservice Marketing Manager, Kerry Beverage

What is driving the growth in breakfast out-of-home?

Nick Pagett, from gourmet hot dog company, Mom’s Fabulous Foods, said: “As the pace of life is speeding up, convenience is becoming key in targeting consumers. We’ll see a continuation of portability and premium quality trends in the breakfast market.”

Stephen Clifford, of bakery product supplier Country Choice, agreed. He said: “Our research into the breakfast opportunity shows that the majority of consumers want to eat on the go wherever possible.

“Many simply don’t have the time to sit down and eat a traditional breakfast so that format is becoming less popular. In fact, the reality is that if a food operation hasn’t got a consumer friendly grab and go offer then the likelihood is that customers will go elsewhere if possible.

“Half of UK consumers eat breakfast away from home at least twice per month and this figure is only expected to grow given changing consumer and economic dynamics such as higher employment and increasingly busy lifestyles.”

Daniel Stegmeyer, from tableware manufacturer WMF Group, said: “Eating breakfast out-of-home is easier than preparing breakfast and coffee at home. It is also faster and saves time in the morning and, for many people, it is more convenient to pick up breakfast on the way to work.

“Nowadays, people have to commute longer distances and they can get the best out of their time by eating breakfast during their commute.

“Breakfast also provides an opportunity to socialise, with people able to meet up with colleagues on the way to office.”

Nic Townsend, of Farm Frites, which creates potato products, added: “A report from Allegra (2016) values the ‘food to go’ market at over £20bn and growing. It details a core ‘youthful and working’ demographic; under 50s (66%) who eat an average of 10 breakfasts ‘on the go’ each month.

“It is easy to see why this demographic is driving the category and offers a strong argument for caterers to respond to this growing demand. People are busy and are more comfortable with eating on the go than ever before – it goes hand in hand with a life that places much demand on free time and eating is one thing that needs to fit in.”

Paul Eason, from pastry product company Pidy, said: “Breakfast has always been key for those in the out-of-home environment. Getting a breakfast offering right is essential, not only to keep customers satisfied but also to generate repeat business from returning customers. What’s more, with a growing high-street breakfast offering, operators need to ensure their breakfast offering is up to scratch in order to maintain sales.”

Mohammed Essa, from potato product producer Aviko, added: “When it comes to breakfast choices, a massive 75% of people will order a cooked breakfast when kick-starting their day out-of-home, with 70% most likely to order a ‘Full English’ followed by scrambled eggs on toast. For operators planning their breakfast menu, the top three items consumers want are sausages and bacon (52%), followed by eggs (23%) and hash browns (18%), but customisation is still hugely important to them – in fact, 90% of consumers would like the opportunity to customise their breakfast.”

In terms of the breakfast beverage market, Grace Keenan, from Kerry Beverage, which includes beverage sauces, syrups, smoothies and frappe brand Da Vinci Gourmet among its portfolio, said: “The expansion of beverage culture has been driven by consumers’ increasingly explorative tastes and raised expectations, and is certainly a big factor in the growth of breakfast out-of-home.”

Marshall Kingston, from tea producer Tetley, added: “It’s no secret that out of home breakfast sales are booming.

“The number of breakfast occasions grew by 8.4 per cent to 1.14 billion year-on-year, according to NPD Crest research, and growth shows no sign of decline. Breakfast and mid-morning are the most important occasions for tea drinking out of home and growing, with this day part accounting for 42 per cent of all tea consumption and one third of all hot drinks consumed at breakfast.”

How can businesses tap into the breakfast market and add value to their offering?

Daniel said: “By putting a breakfast offer together, outlets can attract customers to come by and grab their breakfast easily.

“This can be done by using their existing environment/equipment, as well as using existing staff.

“By creating a perfect value for money breakfast offering, an outlet can also create more recognition of their general concept/offers.”

Nick said: “The key to maximising profit potential is keeping menus simple, and adding signature breakfast treats to your menu is a great way to help differentiate your business from your competition. Smart caterers should look to gourmet fast food for inspiration and maximise morning trade to cater for current market trend.”

Graham Kille, from cooking appliance company Frima, added: “The best way to maximise breakfast sales is to ensure that the menu is varied, but still includes all the favourites, such as fried eggs, bacon, mushrooms etc. and porridge. For kitchens with limited space, multifunctional equipment is key to delivering this.”

Rob Blunder, from catering equipment supplier Parsley in Time, highlighted breakfast buffets as a popular way to tap into the breakfast market. He said: “Breakfast can be big business if done properly. Self-service buffets are a popular way of quickly and easily providing breakfast en mass, but caterers need to specify the right equipment to ensure that food is held at the correct temperature throughout service without drying out or deterioration. It’s also vital that the buffet display equipment looks good and shows off the menu items to best effect.”

Nic said: “It’s all about variety.  There is no standardised way of catering for breakfast any more – people expect choice to make this meal fit in with their lifestyle and time constraints. Being able to adapt to these requirements with a varied, quality menu is the key to successful catering.

“A meal that can be quickly prepared without compromising on taste and quality is going to be key, particularly when the demand is for takeaway food. When you look at the trends for breakfast on the go in the Allegra report, 28% of consumers cited fast service as a key driver in choosing where to get their food from.”

Stephen added: “The key to boosting breakfast sales is providing high quality, freshly prepared products via an efficient delivery system and at a competitive price so that consumers feel they are getting great value for money. If this can be achieved, the grab and go option is convenient to the consumer, and it saves them time, then it’s a win-win for both them and the operator.”

Paul said operators needed to ensure they catered for as many tastes as possible. He said: “When constructing a breakfast menu, trends are dictating that operators look to include something to suit a range of palates, but don’t include too much. Guests rarely change their breakfast habits, unlike with lunch and dinner so stick to a common theme – but do alter certain elements to ensure your offering stands out.”

Jon Usher, from water heating and catering equipment company, Burco Commercial agreed. He said: “Whether served as a traditional fry-up, a healthy selection of fresh produce or as a grab and go option, breakfast service should provide a certain element of consistency. Few people change their breakfast habits. That being said, a number of items are essential to provide a well-stocked breakfast for customers, including, cereals, fruit, yoghurts and toast alongside an option of the traditional fry-up or choice of indulgent breakfast sandwiches.”

However, according to our industry voices, when it comes to breakfast beverages, customers like to try new flavours. Grace said:  “Consumers are becoming increasingly discerning in their purchases so capitalising on the desire to try new flavours is important.

Consumers consistently report that they want to indulge, especially when out of home. Kantar research has shown that 60% of consumers want to try new drinks every 60 days, so operators should look to create a constantly changing menu to take advantage of this demand.

“Looking beyond traditional and standard beverages and introducing variety to a breakfast drinks menu is sure to increase beverage sales.”

With regards to tea, Marshall added: “With total breakfast spend higher with tea than coffee, operators should enhance their customers’ breakfast experience to encourage sales, by offering a range of tea blends that stand apart from those they enjoy at home.”

What are the latest breakfast food trends?

Aine Melichar, from dairy ingredients producer Kerrymaid, said: “One of the most popular and latest consumer trends is brunch and the idea of unlimited brunches; which are becoming increasingly flexible and not restricted to traditional brunch times.

“Unlimited brunches give caterers the opportunity to turn around multiple covers throughout the day, and by limiting the dwell time to a strict time period (the standard around two hours), caterers can cater for a larger amount of visitors and be more prepared for specific footfall at specific times.

“The more familiar bacon and eggs or ‘All Day Breakfast’ is giving way to more sophisticated dishes influenced by the US brunch occasion. Eggs Benedict, Florentine and other variations are becoming increasingly popular due to being both on-trend as well as offering a ‘better for you’ perception.”

“Offering on-the-go items that respond to current trends is also a great way to encourage customers to eat breakfast. Breakfast burritos and toasted sandwiches are popular, healthy and perfect for consumers who want to eat on-the-go. They also reflect the growing demand for global flavours across different meal occasions.”

Championing the need for speed when it came to serving breakfast to time-pressed consumers, Nic said: “As we continue to see a rise in popularity for food-to-go, the demand for breakfast products which can be eaten as a takeaway increases. 

“Items which can be wrapped, carried and even eaten on the move will be a smart choice and a varied breakfast offering from operators, now means the ability to provide a good service both in and out of the premises.

“In terms of what consumers are choosing, operators should plan for a good mixture of meat and vegetarian choices and consider how these options might change through the week. Horizon highlights growth in the trend of ‘Flexitarianism’ in its Eating Out report 2016 and the idea that vegetarian diets are relaxed as the week progresses.  Operators would do well do include a few ‘specials’ in the form of meaty or ‘treat’ items on their food-to-go menu to satisfy demands for a bit more indulgence as the end of the week approaches.”

Stephen added: “Consumers are keen to see breakfast deals, such as a bacon bap or croissant plus hot drink for a fixed price. Like much of the grocery sector our customers have enjoyed considerable success with ‘round pound’ deals which simplify and speed up the transaction process - an important consideration for consumers who want to be in and out of a store in a hurry.”

The need for healthy options was highlighted by Rob. He said: “Juices are very popular with health conscious customers. Look for chilled juice dispensers to keep fresh juice at its best.”

Mohammed added: “With 80% of people thinking that there aren’t currently enough gluten-free cooked breakfast choices, while 54% believe vegetarian options are lacking, special diets prove another opportunity for operators.

“The growth in special diets such as gluten-free means it’s essential that operators offer suitable menu options to increase traffic through the door and maximise profit.”

Highlighting the impact social media has had on breakfast trends, Daniel said: “Using social media, such as Instagram, people can find out what the current trends are.

“Popular at the moment are pictures of sweet potato toasts, sliced sweet potatoes topped with fruits or vegetables.

“Healthy offers are also popular, as well as traditional options such as oatmeal, which are loved by the majority of people.”

With regards to breakfast beverage trends, Marshall said: “Pairing tea blends with food is the perfect way to tap into the latest trends and complement flavours.”

In terms of equipment what does a QSR/Food to go business need to have to ensure they can offer a breakfast menu?

Jon said: “Providing a tasty, well presented and nutritious breakfast is a great way of maintaining both existing customer relationships and attracting new customers to an establishment. For this reason, Operators should be considering the use of commercial kitchen equipment that has been designed to provide consistent quality even under the strain of heavy demand.”

He added: “Caterers should also consider the choice of beverages that their customers may be interested in drinking.

“In order to produce this additional offering to the highest standard, caterers need to once again consider the type of equipment they are using. Standard coffee machines do not produce water hot enough to brew a delicious cup of herbal tea, whereas commercial water boilers are able to produce a wide range of beverages quickly and to a repeatable high standard.”

Taking convenience into consideration, Stephen said: “Grab and go hot units that serve hot breakfast sandwiches and savoury snacks are the best way to increase breakfast sales.”

Daniel added: “Outlets need to make sure they have equipment that means they are able to cope with the demand during peak times.

“It also needs to be reliable and easy to operate and maintain, as well as be able to deliver consistent quality.”

What packaging solutions are available to allow operators to cater for the demand for breakfast on-the-go?

With more consumers eating breakfast on the go, there is a need for effective packaging that is functional for the customer and cost-effective for the foodservice operator.

Daniel said: “It’s important operators look for packaging solutions that are easy to store and allow customers to transport food and drink easily, as some people want to have their breakfast at work.”

Rob said: “In takeaways, food-to-go venues and QSRs, grab and go foods need appropriate packaging. Packaging needs to be cost-effective, functional, attractive, yet disposable. Some items of packaging can also be branded to promote the business.
“For an ethical/green option, look for packaging that uses soya based ink and recyclable paper-board with no plastic linings.”

Stephen added: “It’s worth businesses remembering that most consumers purchase depending on how they are going to eat the product.

“If they are going back to their desk or sitting down then eating a fully loaded bap may be achievable, but certainly not if they are going to eat it on the go.

“So, packaging must be considered carefully, because if you make the product too difficult to eat it’s likely to put the consumer off.”

What does the future hold for the breakfast sector?

“Food-to-go will continue to increase in popularity,” says Nic. “Particularly with the supporting trend for street food and pop up restaurants. Consumers will become more experimental with the start to their day and expect more of a choice in this sector. I think that the interest in world foods, flavour varieties and sauce options will also drive demand for breakfasts which move away from ‘traditional’.”

Stephen agreed about the continued increase in popularity of food-to-go. He said: “We expect continued growth in the food-to-go market for both breakfast and lunch.

“Without a doubt there is a long-term trend towards healthier eating and retailers need to ensure their range is kept up-to-date with healthy alternatives. To that end, and to make sure their offer is all-inclusive, it makes sense for them to use lean bacon in the breakfast programme and there is no need for a spread in breakfast sandwiches.”

Daniel added: “There will be an increased demand for better quality, as well as for healthy options and more information about the product.

“Pricing will become more important as competition grows, while speed will also grow in importance as customers look to get in and out of sites quickly.”

Paul said: “Having a healthy breakfast offering is key but options shouldn’t just be focused on lowering fat, sugar and salt, but also include a variety of meals suitable for those with specific dietary requirements.”

There’s no doubting that for many people breakfast is the most important meal on the day.

And with the ever-increasing pace of modern day life, the need to be able to fuel up for the day outside of home is becoming more important.

Therefore it is imperative that food-to-go and quick service restaurant operators are able to cater for the growing demand of consumers looking for breakfast out-of-home.

Foodservice operators need to be able to provide a varied offering that caters to different tastes and dietary requirements.

It is also vital that grab-and-go options are provided to provide convenience for consumers.

Wednesday, 4th January, 2017
GBK's CEO tells us about the chain's obsession for perfection

Business Profile – Gourmet Burger Kitchen

Serving burger lovers since 2001, GBK was the first gourmet burger restaurant in the UK and has been revolutionising the burger ever since.

Since the first restaurant opened in Battersea, South London, GBK’s philosophy has been simple – to create fresh, quality burgers. GBK now has over 80 restaurants in the UK and Ireland, from Brighton to Edinburgh to Dublin.

Alasdair Murdoch heads up GBK as CEO.

Prior to coming to GBK he’s had a wealth of experience within the restaurant industry.

In 2010 he was part of the team that took The Clapham House Group private and over the last five and half years has led the team that’s overseen the turnaround and growth of GBK.

He has done this, alongside his team, by investing significantly in the quality of the food, re-investing in the restaurants and developing the GBK teams in each restaurant.

During this time, turnover has doubled, earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation has quadrupled, GBK employs twice as many people, and every restaurant has been individually re-modelled.

With this in mind, we decided find out more about GBK’s success from Alasdair himself.

What is the ethos of GBK?

“To offer a real variety of burgers, from vegetarian to chicken and not forgetting our grass-fed beef. We source all our meat fresh, and wherever possible support British farmers, as provenance, as well as freshness, is of paramount importance.

“A huge amount of love has gone into everything – from picking the best buns to keeping our menu innovative and exciting. Simply put we are obsessive about burgers.”

How strong do you feel the burger market is at the moment?

“After a decade of burger revolution in the UK, the market is stronger than ever.

“Consumers have gone from thinking of burgers as fast food to expecting a quality dining experience when they go for one. Before 2001, the choice was mostly limited to the fast-food giants and was very much an ‘on the go’ option.

“The sector has since exploded – first with several UK based options and now – in the past few years – we’ve seen more arriving from overseas. Essentially now it’s much easier to eat a better burger in the UK, and that’s a good thing.
“Consumers demand higher quality, fresh food, traceability of all ingredients, and want innovation in food while never compromising on taste or quality. That’s where we win as we believe we offer the freshest, best quality burger out there.”
What are the latest trends in the burger market?
“Brands are increasingly becoming more innovative with their offering and burger restaurants are no exception.

“From seasonings like Sriracha sauce and wasabi to offering a more unusual variety of meats, cuts and vegan and vegetarian options, the choice of burgers available is huge – there is now no such thing as a ‘standard’ burger. Variety is one of the attributes that sets GBK apart and has enabled us to grow fast and profitably.”

How would you describe your menu?

“We serve up a variety of crafted and innovative burgers from the favourite Cheese and Bacon to the more adventurous Persian Lamb, Stack and Buffalo.

“Tim, GBK’s Head of Food, spends a lot of time in the GBK test kitchen underneath the Baker Street restaurant, in London. The test kitchen is a hive of burger innovation, and the source of everything on the menu.  We trial new burgers regularly and if they prove successful then they will feature on the menu.”

What is the most popular item on the menu?

“GBK’s best-selling burger is the Cheese and Bacon.

“People love this classic, but more adventurous burgers, like the Kiwiburger, on the menu since day one, are also big sellers.”

What sets you aside from other similar businesses?

“The range of burgers and our innovation in both menu and brand. Our sense of fun, the design of our restaurants and our lovely teams in every restaurant.”

What are Gourmet Burger Kitchen’s plans moving forward, following the business being bought by Famous Brands?

“GBK currently has 83 restaurants and plans to continue opening 12-15 restaurants a year for the next five years. 

“This will see 2,500 more staff taken on and the store tally double to 150. GBK also aims to double turnover, which hit £65 million last year, by 2021.”

Thursday, 1st December, 2016
We find out about the secrets of fish and chip shop's success

Business Profile - Simpsons Fish and Chips

When most people think of a British fish and chip shop, the image conjured in their head is often that of a stereotypical local ‘chippy’ on the street corner whose menu is dominated with old favourites – cod and haddock.

The dish is a British staple with a long and proud history and consistently remains the nation’s favourite takeaway, for good reason.

However, tomorrow’s fish and chip shops are all about innovation and diversification. From those boasting up to 12 different fish/shellfish species on their menu and alternative cooking methods, to the development of on-trend dining experiences, fish and chip businesses are making sure they stay on top of the takeaway market by offering up something different for hungry consumers.

A prime example is Gloucestershire’s Simpsons Fish & Chips, reigning champions of The National Fish & Chip Awards at which the business was named the ‘best fish and chip takeaway in the UK’ after winning plaudits from the judges for ‘pushing the boundaries’.

James and Bonny Ritchie, co-owners of Simpsons Fish & Chips, explain: “We opened our Cheltenham shop in 2009, but fish and chips have been in our family for nearly 40 years.


“We firmly believe that the best fish and chips should consist of top quality natural ingredients… fish, potato and batter – and in essence that’s it.

“However, it’s a competitive industry and there are so many shops all vying for the same customers, and all using similar products. In order to be the best we knew that we needed a splash of creativity to make us stand out from the crowd.

“From entering The National Fish & Chip Awards on an annual basis over recent years we saw first-hand the amazing lengths that other fish and chip shops were going to, and it really opened our eyes and made us realise what we can do with our standard food menu - we’ve been a thriving entrepreneurial business ever since.

“We also signed up to Deliveroo. We used it to branch-out and geographically target potential new customers who might not be able to visit our takeaway or restaurant, offering a ‘sample’ menu to give customers a taste of what we’re all about, but also encouraging actual footfall to the shop.

“We always keep our menu fresh with seasonal twists and surprises. Our battered Christmas pudding served with brandy butter is the ultimate indulgence in December! But day-by-day we offer a wide selection of options, ranging from whole langoustine tails to the time honoured favourite, freshly battered fillet of cod.


“Everything is homemade and unique to our brand, adding that special touch. We’ve even gone as far as to create our Simpsons-branded natural batter mix and took this a step further to develop the ‘Simpsons beer-batter kit’ – a take-home hamper that allows our customers to make our recipe at home in their kitchen. They went down a storm over the festive season and so many people were buying them as gifts.

“We’ve also taken a step away from the frying range and created a children’s book – Where Do Fish And Chips Come From? - for our younger customers. We believe it’s important to teach children about the importance of sustainability and explore the truth behind where their fish and chips dinner actually comes from. Children often see food when it’s packaged, cooked or ready-prepared, so we wanted to educate them on the provenance of what they eat.

“All of this has allowed us to invest in our business and we recently completed a significant renovation of our restaurant, doubling the number of covers, and diversified our offering to include an outside catering service.

“My advice to other fish and chip shops out there would be; think about how you can expand the reach of your brand and attract new audiences. You need to constantly challenge yourself and your business, learn more every day and develop at the same time.

“When researching, don’t just look at other places serving similar food to you; look at innovative restaurants in general. If we continued competing with our local fish and chip shops, we wouldn’t be where we are today. Big chains have huge marketing teams and budgets, so keep a close eye on how they attract new customers so you can get your creative juices flowing.


“If you can enter awards – do it. Even if you don’t get shortlisted the first few times, it will keep your business in tip-top shape. There are lots of free awards programs that you can enter, such as The National Fish & Chip Awards, so you really have nothing to lose.

“Once you open your shop, we recommend hiring a mystery dining company to objectively appraise your business. It can be a bit pricey, but it’s a fantastic way to get an outsider’s point of view - great customer service can make up for average food, but no amount of great food can make up for bad customer service.

“One thing that is so important is doing work you care about. There’s no doubt that running a business takes a lot of time so if you’re looking to innovate make sure it’s something you truly believe in and are passionate about.

“Overall, have a vision, believe in yourself, face your fears and take action. 

“It’s great to be creative and try something a bit different, but we genuinely find that sticking to the basics of offering excellent customer service coupled with fantastic tasting, freshly prepared food wins every time.”

Thursday, 1st December, 2016
Find out how you can tempt customers to feed their sweet craving

Sweet Treats

The latest series of the Great British Bake Off may have ended, but the nation’s love of sweet treats and desserts shows no sign of waning. With this in mind, we decided to find out how businesses in the food-to-go and quick service restaurant industry can tempt customers to feed their sweet craving.

Sweet treats and desserts are a vital part of any food-to-go/quick service restaurant menu.

Offering an excellent and varied choice can attract add-on sales and help to boost profits.

However, operators have a lot to consider when deciding which sweet options will best tempt customers to part with their cash.

From baking your own products, to providing healthy, free-from and vegan options, there are many things to think about when deciding what’s best for your business.
For these reasons we decided to speak to some of the experts in this area to find out what you should be offering and how you can attract add-on sale and improve your profits.

Industry voices: Jacqui Passmore, Dawn Foods Marketing Manager UK and Ireland; Candice Fonseca, Proprietor, Delifonseca, Paul Eason, Chef and Business Manager, Pidy, and Andrew Ely, Managing Director, Almondy.

How important are sweet treats and desserts to the food-to-go/QSR market?

Paul Eason, from pastry product producer Pidy, said: “Sweet treats and desserts offer that guilty pleasure that people are always tempted by when they’re on-the-go. 

“More often than not customers are in need of some form of quick and convenient pick-me-up of the sweet variety. 

“It’s wise to have plenty of sweet treats for those in desperate need of a sugar fix while on their travels. It’s also the last thing people remember when they have a meal, whether it is a bite-sized treat or a full-size dessert it’s bound to make a lasting impression.

“Therefore, it is important to amaze your customers by using high-quality fresh ingredients and delicious innovative ideas.” 

Highlighting the need for treats on the go, Jacqui Passmore, from sweet bakery product supplier Dawn, said: “Time-pressed consumers continue to turn away from sit down meals, with eating on the go on the increase throughout the day.

“This means consumers are increasingly frequenting quick service restaurants with sweet products to go, such as muffins, donuts and cookies adding value to the menu and additional sales.

“There are a number of ways operators can enhance their connection with customers through their bakery offering with seasonal variants, new flavours and ways of presentation. All this helps to avoid the potential for ‘menu fatigue’ by keeping customers interested and driving repeat sales.”

Candice Fonseca, of Liverpool-based eatery and deli, Delifonseca, pointed out the opportunity sweet treats and dessert provided to increase add-on sales.

She said: “Sweet treats and desserts are extremely important menu additions as they provide an opportunity to increase that crucial spend per head and are less price sensitive than the savoury lunch items.

“I think that consumers purchase the sweet treats and desserts on impulse, which might be a flight of fancy or as a pick-me-up reward for a hard morning’s work. Whatever the motivation, if you have a good range of options available it means that you can increase your revenue considerably.” 

What are the most popular products in the sweet treat and dessert market at present?

“In terms of ‘naughty treats’ we’ve seen strong sales on individual honeycomb bars and anything that involves salted caramel,” says Candice. “American favourites such as Reese’s and Hershey’s are also still selling strongly.

“Size really does count with this purchase as people seem to prefer to pay a little more for a little less, going for 35g bars over the better value option of 100g.

“Clearly most people don’t trust themselves to stop munching and save it for the day after. The one exception to this rule is biscuits. We find that full-sized packets of biscuits sell really well when placed by the sandwich fridge.

“Whether it’s a social thing, as they are easy to share around an office, or simply people can make them last over a few days to accompany multiple cups of tea. Our chocolate coated ginger biscuits have remained the biggest seller for years.”

Paul suggested that traditional desserts with modern twists were proving popular with consumers. He said: “When you look around at today’s offerings chocolate-based treats and desserts of all kinds of varieties are always a popular choice. Likewise, ‘traditional’ style desserts, such as sticky toffee pudding, will forever remain close to people’s hearts.  The concept of taking a traditional dessert and giving it an original revamp creates maximum appeal for customers.

“Creating a classic favourite but adding an exciting new twist really ensures the best of both worlds.”

However, when deciding what products to offer, Jacqui pointed out that food-to-go/quick service restaurant operators had some important factors to consider.

She said: “There are several options available for QSR operators, but it is important to consider some of the basics, from how much space you have for frozen storage, through to the skill sets in your team and, of course, which products will give you a good return on investment.

“Ready to serve products mean you simply thaw and serve exactly what is required according to demand, and waste is kept to a minimum. This is often the best option for QSR operators.”

How can outlets add value to their menu with desserts and sweet treats?

One popular way to add value offered by our industry voices, was to create sweet treats and desserts in-house.

Jacqui said: “If you want to add your own touch to your offering and have the space and skills in-house to do this, bake-off is ideal. And of course nothing beats the aroma and freshness of a newly baked sweet product.”

Jacqui suggested that any foodservice operators considering baking in-house should consider these points:

• Choose products that can be easily created without taking up too much time or with no complex skill required.  This is especially important if you have a team with varying skills. This way you can ensure product consistency

• Choose a product where you can control portion size, price point and profitability.

• If adding value is important, choose a product where you can add your own signature, whether using a base product or adding an interesting topping after the product is baked and decorated

• To decide which products to stock, run product trials over a few days/weeks and measure the success via sales: For example, run two brownies side by side for a period with the aim of listing one ongoing. Sample to your customers, ask them for feedback and then serve what they want

• Consider the competition you have in your area, either from other high street bakers or look at what is being offered in the supermarkets – how can you produce a different offering to drive sales?

• Baking little and often will ensure that consumers are served freshly baked products whether at 7am or 7pm. By working in batches, you can also ensure that you are only baking off what you need and so minimising wastage and ensuring effective stock rotation.

Candice added: “We’re lucky enough to have Claire Lara (first female winner of Masterchef: The Professionals 2010) as our pastry chef at Delifonseca Dockside, as she bakes up a storm with all-sorts of cakes and bakes.

“She has also developed individual dessert pots with a spoon attached that we can put in the sandwich fridge.

“By constantly changing these up each week, the customer finds it hard not to resist the pull of a luxury dessert for a lunchtime pick-me-up.

“We did, however, have to experiment with size, making them smaller than those we serve on the patisserie counter, as the last thing the customer wants is to feel the need for an afternoon nap after over-indulging and it also keeps the price more affordable.

“If a business has regular customers, then a changing counter inspires them to try and buy, meaning that variety really is key.”

Paul suggested tempting customers with miniature desserts and sweet treats. He said: “In terms of adding value to a menu, miniature desserts and sharing platters are a popular concept at the moment. These allow chefs to be extra creative and show off their abilities. They can add an element of class and sophistication to any menu with their delicate appearance.”

What dessert options are available to tempt health conscious consumers?

With a growing number of consumers looking for healthy options, it’s wise for operators to consider what sweet or dessert products are available to cater for this demand.

Paul said: “We understand that healthier dessert options are high on most people’s wish lists. Creating a guilt-free dessert without sacrificing the great taste of our recipe is something our new product development team is continuously pursuing.

“However, one of our most recent innovations is our gluten-free range which was introduced to cater for the increasing demand for such products. Gluten-free is not just a necessity for those who request it for health reasons, but also the health conscious consumers that demand it as a lifestyle choice.

“We are always trying to keep up with gluten-free demands and other dietary needs - expanding into the lactose-free market is one of our future goals.” 

Highlighting some examples of popular healthy sweet options, Candice said: “We have seen very strong sales of the Pana raw chocolate brand, which was in contrast to other similar products we’ve stocked in the past. The product is pricey, but the quality is great and the packaging is sophisticated.

“Fresh cut fruit in pots is always popular when the weather is better. We find a good mix of whole strawberries, grapes and pineapple are always popular and strawberries with a small spoonful of mascarpone are very popular too.

“Individual organic yoghurt pots have always remained a steady seller. We also stock apple crisps but these tend to sell slowly but steadily.”

What new trends are we going to see in 2017?

As revealed in the earlier pages of this magazine (Free-from Foods – pages 20-27), there is huge demand for free-from and vegan foods.

This is also the case in the sweet treats and desserts sector and it is predicted that this will continue to grow.

Andrew Ely, Managing Director of frozen cake producer Almondy, said:  “Desserts that cater for special diets is one area caterers need to consider, with research revealing that 72 per cent of people would like to see more lactose-free options on menus when eating out, indicating operators who look to cater for these dairy avoiders could boost profits.

“We’ve only scratched the surface when it comes to lactose-free; commercially it offers a huge untapped opportunity for operators, not only in catering for the estimated one in five people who may have the intolerance, but appealing to the growing number of consumers buying free-from. In fact, independent research has revealed that over a third of people have bought a lactose-free product, rising to 40% of men.

“It’s clear from the research that the demand for lactose-free is there, seven out of ten want more options, but with dessert menus often limited, providing a free-from option that ticks all the boxes can be a challenge.”

Candice added: “I think the raw chocolate, free-from and vegan market has still got room to grow. I have tasted a number of fabulous frozen vegan ice cream products, using avocado as their base, and I think individual pots of this type of product might work well over the summer months.

“Overall though, I think the consumer is looking for variety and inspiration. They get tired of seeing the same ‘treats’ so it is important to keep at least a proportion of lines changing and alternating.”

However, Paul suggested we will also see a growing influence from further afield. He said: “Ethnic food continues to be popular and the market is already starting to adapt to cater for this key trend.

“Savoury ethnic dishes are most prominently enjoyed by customers and have become integrated within the British food industry. A key trend to follow this is ethnic desserts – the combination of vibrant colours with diverse spices and wonderful smells create dishes suitable for everyone’s taste.

“Ethnic desserts also give consumers the opportunity to expand their taste pallets by trying new and exotic flavours.”

On the whole, the dessert and sweet treats market is in good health.

With the growing demand for healthier options, food-to-go and quick service operators have adapted and changed their offerings to ensure they are catering for everyone.

This has also seen an increase in the number of free-from and vegan products on menus, something that will become even more important as this sector continues to grow.

Businesses who want to stand out from the crowd, as well as add value to their menu, should consider creating their own sweet treat products. However, they would need to ensure this is viable first.

Outlets should also look to refresh their offering on a regular basis and look to ethnic desserts and sweet treats to provide an alternative to other similar businesses

If operators can get their offering right, sweet treats and desserts can be highly profitable.

Thursday, 1st December, 2016
We speak to pointOne’s Managing Director Steven Rolfe

Talking Technology - Steven Rolfe, Managing Director, pointOne EPoS

pointOne EPoS is an award winning PoS solution supplier dedicated to the needs of the QSR operator.

At the heart is the core pointOne EPoS solution, around which and fully integrated are add-on solutions such as customer facing kiosks, online ordering, and takeaway and driver management.

pointOne EPoS also focuses on third party API development to ensure our customers can adopt the latest software suites, and mobile payment and loyalty technologies such as Yoyo and Zapper.

When not focused on all of this, the business is continually seeking to enhance its existing suites, such as stock control and head office reporting, to stay ahead of the curve.

With all of this in mind, we spoke to pointOne’s Managing Director, Steven Rolfe, to find out more about the technology landscape in regards to the food-to-go and QSR sector.

What technological challenges do businesses operating in the food-to-go/QSR industry currently face?

“The landscape is forever changing with mobile payment and loyalty apps, and new stand-alone software suites. They come and go, but the ones that can gain traction are the ones that can demonstrate a clear USP and a proven revenue model. For the operator, the challenge is knowing who is relevant in the space long term. One we like is Yoyo, these guys are doing some great things in the mobile wallet space.

“Also, our recent work with Tossed and Carve is helping them to move to a cashless environment using our kiosk technology. This has rewritten the concept of food to go/QSR and what the customer experience can be in the future.”

What solutions are available to meet these challenges?

“Our development focus is ensuring our own solutions are scalable to meet the demands of new integrations. QSR operators should satisfy themselves that whomever they are talking to are doing the same. 

“Our customer-facing tablet kiosk solution is unique to the market, as it is the only one that is fully integrated with an Enterprise EPoS solution. We have a number of projects on the go at the moment for new QSR start-ups looking to implement kiosks and/or cashless operations in the UK and overseas.”

How can businesses ensure the smooth introduction of new technology into their business?

“The implementation and transition period is never the same for every operator. Existing sites and new builds have different requirements when rolling out new technology.

“One of the key areas is to ensure that all teams from management to floor staff are engaged and up to speed with the new system/s before going live. Invariably anything that comes up can be dealt with by staff who are confident in the new systems and understand the processes.”

What does the future hold in terms of technology for the food-to-go/QSR industry?

“Enhancing the customer experience through kiosks, online ordering, smooth click and collect processes are going to continue to play a significant role in the development of existing and new operators while everyone battles for an increased share of the consumer spend. Operators are continuing to invest in technology as they can see that this investment will drive future growth. The ‘case for cashless’ is in its early days with many operators keeping an eye on this for the future.” 

Thursday, 1st December, 2016
Find out what precautions you should be taking to fight infection

Combating the Spread of Infection

Ensuring effective food hygiene and taking precautions to combat the spread of infection are not just necessities for food-to-go and quick service restaurants, but also legal requirements. We find out what operators should be doing to protect their customers, their staff, themselves and their businesses.

The outbreak of infections can have a huge impact on foodservice businesses.

Even if operators take every precaution, outbreaks can still occur.

Only last month, nine Wahaca restaurants were closed following a suspected outbreak of norovirus, which led to more than 300 people reportedly falling ill.

According to food safety specialists STS, norovirus is a notoriously difficult organism to control and can spread incredibly easily from person to person.

A business can take every measure possible, but an outbreak can still happen.

However, it is essential that procedures and precautions are in place to limit the risk.

With this in mind, our industry experts tell us what food-to-go and QSR operators should be doing to fight infection and what could happen to businesses if they fail to protect their customers properly.

Industry voices: Tim Strutt, Sales Manager, Electronic Temperature Instruments Ltd; Andy Tyson, Co-founder and Director, Trade Interchange; Rag Hulait, Senior Sales Consultant, Monika, and Fiona Kibby, Director of The Society of Food Hygiene and Technology

What measures should businesses in the food-to-go/QSR sector take to combat the spread of infection?

Fiona Kibby, from The Society of Food Hygiene and Technology, an independent consortium of food industry specialists set up to keep members advised of the current hygiene and technology issues, advised: “There are basic food safety rules that all businesses serving food should stick to in order to keep their business safe and to help combat the spread of infection, but many others that you may not have thought of.

“Ensuring that anyone handling food is trained in the safe ways of handling food, or is supervised by someone appropriately trained, is an essential foundation to your business. 

“It’s also good practice to ensure any new starters have an induction to understand the basic principles of food safety relevant to their role before they start work. 

“It is also ideal to record any training so you can show enforcement officers during their visits that you have implemented a training programme.”

With regards to sourcing your food, Fiona added: “It is important that you have some understanding of your supply chain and check goods on intake.

“On arrival check the temperature of chilled and frozen goods, check the packaging is intact and check it’s what you ordered.

“Use reputable suppliers who can show that the products you’re buying have come from a safe and hygienic source, for example sites with food safety accreditation for example BRC Food, ISO22000 or a bespoke Due Diligence audit.”

She added: “You must keep records of everything a supplier provides, for example supplier name and address, delivery dates, batch numbers and best before or use by dates. 

“This information is sometimes on the invoice but you must make sure that you have it recorded as if there is a safety problem with the food you’ve sold, you will need to make sure that you can carry out a withdrawal (if you’ve sold food on to another food business) or recall (from consumers) if you identify a food safety issue.  You must inform your enforcement agency of this too.”

Offering advice on cleaning, she said: “Ensure that hand washing facilities that have hot and cold water, suitable soap and drying facilities are available for staff and are separate from any other sinks.

“Make sure that staff wash their hands after certain tasks identified by you, for example before starting work, after handling raw products, after emptying bins, after sneezing or coughing, after touching their face or hair, after smoking, after using the toilet etc.

“Use food safe chemicals for washing utensils, equipment and surfaces Labelled BS EN 1276 or BS EN 13697 and that health and safety instructions are followed.

“Have separate sinks for cleaning utensils/equipment and washing food and use different cleaning equipment for food contact surfaces, floors, walls and staff facilities (toilets).”

Andy Tyson, from supplier information management software provider, Trade Interchange, said: “Whilst QSR operators can have tight controls of their own internal procedures to ensure health and safety practices, it is also vital to consider the spread of infection that could be caused by health and safety malpractice in the supply chain. Hygiene levels could be first-rate in a restaurant but that can be seriously undermined if the supply chain falls short at any point in the production process.

“Trade Interchange’s latest research has found that 90% of operators we surveyed know it’s vital to monitor supplier health and safety practice information - but this leads us to question why so many (60%) are using outdated supplier information management methods, such as paper or spreadsheet-based, which can be extremely time consuming and difficult to manage.

“Over a third of operators (37%) feel that poor health and safety practices within the supply chain pose a risk to their businesses.  This is not surprising given the reputational and financial damage a food safety issue could cause - especially as the operator would be deemed responsible, even if the issue was not directly attributable to them but was within the supply chain. While health and safety law is well established in the UK, it is crucial to ensure that supplier documentation, certification and accreditation is stringently monitored and kept up-to-date.

“Recent outbreaks of norovirus at a well-known restaurant chain have reiterated the importance of vigorously and accurately monitoring food suppliers – as it is possible that produce responsible for the epidemic could have been contaminated prior to delivery.”

What are the possible legal implications if outlets fail to take effective precautions to combat infection?

Foodservice operators who fail to take the necessary precautions to stop infections are putting themselves and their businesses at risk of losing more than just their reputation.

Warning of the legal implications such inaction could result in, Rag Hulait, from wireless temperature monitoring system business, Monika, said:  “With countless regulations in place regarding the process operators use to monitor and control temperature checks on food and ingredients upon delivery, during storage and when handling, preparing, cooking and serving meals in order to prevent food-borne infection and the subsequent illness that can occur, caterers must stay on top of the legislative processes at all times.

“The outbreak of a food borne infection caused by poorly cooked or incorrectly stored food can be significantly more damaging than to a business’s reputation alone.

“With costs often running into tens of thousands of pounds, legal proceedings being a lengthy process and the food standards authorities subsequently maintaining an eagle eye on future operation, the impact on a catering establishment can be enormous.”

What equipment and products are available to help businesses combat the spread of infections?

When it comes to combating infections it is vital to take action to prevent outbreaks and there are a number of products that can help in this area.

Rag said: “In order to prefect the formation and spread of infections, regular, accurate temperature monitoring and clear protocols throughout a QSR catering provision is essential.

“By precisely recording data and maintaining correct records, operators can demonstrate compliance and integrity at every stage. Detailed HACCP reporting and full accountability can be quickly and efficiently downloaded when needed, covering a business from a legal perspective.

“Traditionally temperature monitoring would be a very time-consuming task and the results would often depend on the competency of the member of staff undertaking their duty accurately.

“Modern advances in temperature monitoring has seen the introduction of remote, automated systems that are able to monitor and record temperatures 24/7, significantly cutting down on labour requirements while also capable of alerting the operator through audible, visual and even text message or email alerts should conditions move outside of pre-set parameters.

“Highly accurate, these systems also allow the kitchen to demonstrate complete due diligence and compliance to the most up to date legislation and regulation surrounding the industry.”

With regards to managing suppliers, Andy said: “Specialist Supplier Information Management (SIM) software enables QSR operators to ensure that their suppliers (both current and potential) are compliant with existing health and safety regulations and, therefore, pose a lesser risk of spreading infections. Specialist software can assist in making sure documents are up-to-date through sending out automated alerts to suppliers to update their documents. This can be set by the QSR and is incredibly useful when it comes to traceability and auditing in a time efficient manner.

“What’s great about SIM software is that all supplier information is collated into one central dashboard making it visible to all stakeholders and, being cloud-based, in any location. Users can also utilise these systems to help select future suppliers, who are registered on the system, as they are able to see a 360° view of their operation. Monitoring for health and safety malpractice has never been easier.” 

What consideration do food-to-go/QSR operators need to take in regards to effective food storage?

When it comes to storing food, businesses cannot afford to make any mistakes.

Get the temperature wrong, leave food out for too long or not ensuring the storage area is cleaned effectively can lead to problems.

Tim Strutt, from digital thermometer and temperature probe manufacturer Electronic Temperature Instruments Ltd, said: “Quick Service Restaurants and food-to-go establishments have the problem of effectively storing food exacerbated by virtue of their ‘need for speed’.

“Proper storage, to avoid cross contamination and ensure correct storage temperatures, requires time and thoughtful organisation. There are plenty of recommendations in this regard, but the important issue is that the internal food temperature is the controlling factor and a penetrating thermometer will give relevant information. (Remembering to use anti-bacterial wipes in between use of the thermometer).”

Fiona added: “Operators should check the temperature of chilled food on arrival (from their suppliers) and put it away in the fridge as quickly as possible.

“Any cooked food should be cooled as quickly as possible, then stored in a fridge, which should be set to 5°C and ensure they reach 8°C as a maximum. Fridges and cool cabinets should also be checked regularly.

“Chilled products can be displayed for up to four hours above 8°C, but best practise is to keep them as close to this as possible. Discard food after four hours if it has been held above 8°C.”

Offering advice on monitoring temperature, Rag said: “Regulation states that caterers should undertake comprehensive temperature monitoring at least once a day, but a minimum of twice a day on stored and cooked food, once at opening and once at closing is recommended.

“Undertaken manually, temperature monitoring can take time and prevent resource from being used elsewhere in the kitchen. On the other hand, the latest automated temperature monitoring systems, are able to monitor and record temperatures at regular intervals throughout the day and night. Not only does this save on time but also ensures food being stored is done so at the correct temperature all day, every day.”

How can food-to-go/QSR operators ensure that bacteria is killed off when cooking/reheating food?

Tim said: “UK legislation can help with these issues, requiring food to be kept and reheated to certain temperatures; but due to the various nature of food ingredients, it is impossible to state initial cooking temperatures.

“However, harmful bacteria, such as Salmonella, Norovirus, Campylobacter, E. coli and Listeria can be killed by heating to an internal temperature of 72°C (or a temperature/time equivalent).

“Once food is cooked, it should be held hot, at an internal temperature of 60°C or above. Don’t guess, use a food thermometer to make sure. Discard all perishable foods left at room temperature longer than two hours; one hour in temperatures above 30°C.

“Reheating of previously cooked food has more stringent requirements and internal temperatures should reach 70°C for two minutes (in Scotland it is a requirement for reheated food to be 82°C).

“Commercially, food should only be reheated once, and this should be done thoroughly, without cold spots, as can happen in a microwave oven.”
Fiona added: “Food must be cooked until it is ‘steaming hot’ all the way through to ensure harmful bacteria are killed.

“Think about what you are using your cooked product for; there have been cases of food borne infection recently due to the use of under cooked liver in pate. 

“It is common to serve liver slightly pink when you cook it and serve it immediately. Some chefs were using pink liver to make pate, then keeping the pate for a while, which allowed the bacteria that hadn’t been killed during cooking to grow.

“Food to be served hot can be kept below 63oC for two hours, but only once.  After two hours you must reheat to above 63°C or chill to less than 8°C.

“Check that your ovens cook at the same temperature throughout as there may be cold spots and oven performance can change.”
What precautions need to be taken to prevent cross contamination between raw meat and cooked meat?

Tim said: “It is essential to prevent cross contamination by either direct or indirect contact. Bacteria can move between foods in an instant, there is no such thing as the ‘five-second’ rule.

“Direct contact can be avoided by keeping cooked and raw meat/poultry apart, only working with one or the other at any one time. Cooked and raw meat should be stored separately and if in the same fridge, cooked foodstuffs should be held above raw items.

“Cleanliness is essential to avoid cross-contamination by indirect means and working surfaces and tools should be thoroughly cleaned in between preparation. Separate cutting-boards, good hand-washing facilities and clean clothing aid the prevention of cross-contamination.”

Fiona agreed, adding: “It is essential to control raw products carefully by using different equipment and aprons, cleaning down afterwards, washing hands, and storing in the fridge below ready to eat foods.”

Taking precautions to prevent and combat infections is vital for all foodservice businesses.

All operators need to have effective procedures and checks in place to protect their customers, their staff and themselves.

If the necessary precautions are not taken, business owners can find themselves facing more than just the issue of tackling the problem and regaining the trust of customers, but also facing legal action, which could prove very costly.

It is essential that staff ensure they follow proper procedures for cleaning storage and preparation areas, as well as ensuring food is stored correctly at the right temperature.

Food must also be cooked properly so that any harmful bacteria is killed, while care must also be taken to avoid any cross-contamination between raw and ready to eat food.

Care must also be taken with regards to the supply chain, with businesses ensuring products come from safe and hygienic suppliers.

It is also essential for food-to-go/QSR operators to maintain up-to-date records so, if necessary, they can demonstrate that they have taken every precaution possible to combat infection.

Colour-coded for infection protection

When it comes to combating infection there are many procedures and practices that food-to-go and QSR operators can put in place to protect customers, staff, themselves and their businesses.

Some are simpler than others to implement, including using colour-coded equipment and utensils to prevent cross-contamination.

Danielle Sensier, Director, Sales and Marketing at TM Electronics, which specializes in providing digital thermometers, thermistors, thermocouples and probes to the food and catering industry, said: “The key issues (with regards to combating infection) are storage of food – especially chilled food - at the correct temperature and also cooking/reheating food to the necessary core temperatures to ensure bacteria is killed off.

“Also, there is the issue of cross-contamination from one food group to another, for example raw meat to cooked meat, or fish to dairy etc, which is why you see different coloured chopping boards and knives in commercial kitchens and why we now produce colour-coded food probes.”

Thursday, 1st December, 2016
We find out about the importance of free-from foods

Free-From Food

With consumers becoming increasingly aware about what goes into their food, the demand for healthier alternatives has grown. This has led to the mainstreaming of free-from and vegan products, as diners seeking out such options for reasons other than being intolerant or allergic to ingredients in other foods.

The UK free-from market is booming.

Indeed, it is estimated that the free-from sector is worth £531 million and will rise to £673m by 2020.

The increase in demand for free-from food could be due to the number of people with a food allergy, or intolerance.

However, consumers with more knowledge about where food comes from and how it is produced are increasingly looking for healthier options and this has helped to drive the demand for free-from products. 

We decided to take a closer look at this important sector of the foodservice market and find out how food-to-go and QSR operators can ensure they are catering for everyone’s dietary needs.

Industry voices: Nikolai Lazarev, CEO, London Falafel; Adrian Ling, Managing Director, Plamil Foods;  Tarryn Gorre, Co-founder of Kafoodle; Emily Sudell, Marketing Manager, Bells of Lazonby; Louise Collins, Marketing Co-ordinator, Booja-Booja; Tony Goodman, CEO, Yumsh Snacks Ltd; Andrew Scott, Managing Director, Victus Hospitality Consultancy; David Colwell, Foodservice Manager, The Real Soup Co; Paul Eason, Chef and Business Development Manager, Pidy UK; David Street, Marketing Manager for The Premium Snack Company, and Aine Melichar, Brand Development Manager, Kerrymaid.

How important are free-from and vegan products to the food-to-go/QSR market?

Nikolai Lazarev, from London Falafel, which creates all-natural, vegan and gluten-free falafel, said: “Mintel estimates that the UK market alone will be worth £531 million in 2016 (up 13 per cent from 2015), while in a recent YouGov survey, it was found that one in six of the UK population believe they have a food allergy or intolerance and 25 per cent of UK households include at least one food allergy or intolerance sufferer. This is why the availability of high quality, great tasting free-from food is so crucially important.

“Great tasting free-from and vegan food is very important in the food-to-go/QSR market as health conscious consumers are becoming more aware about what they eat and are looking to find healthier alternatives without compromising on taste.

“Due to this trend premium food outlets, such as Pret A Manger, are paying closer attention to the demands of customers who want free-from options, and are adding free-from products to their menus to ensure they are catering for everyone.

“The market for falafel has grown an impressive 20% since last year. Falafel is now the number one choice for a growing number of vegans and vegetarians and more people are shifting to a plant-based diet, a trend that will only increase. London Falafel is proud to be at the helm of this exciting food trend.”

David Colwell, from The Real Soup Co, which produces handmade soups (including vegetarian, vegan and gluten-free options) for the foodservice industry, said: “Market analysts, MCA Allegra, reported recently that the UK food-to-go market is growing at an impressive 5.4% year-on-year, and it’s no surprise that with lunch hours shrinking to around 27 minutes (dropping from 36 minutes in 2000), the pressure is on for operators to deliver great food, fast.

“The free-from consumer is now an integral part of the mix, their purchasing power representing a considerable slice of the foodservice market.

“This is both a challenge and an opportunity for caterers. It’s incredibly important that their range spans vegetarian, vegan and gluten-free flavours, ensuring these burgeoning diet trends are well catered for. Conversely they also need help and information from food producers to know which of their products contain allergens and what those allergens are.”

Andrew Scott, of Victus Hospitality Consultancy, said: “According to Allergy UK, around 45% per of the population of the UK has a food allergy or intolerance.

“For the people affected, this is an inconvenience at best and life threatening at worse. Additionally, there are now over 500,000 vegans in the country, an enormous 360% increase in the past ten years.

“The food service industry has to keep ahead of such trends to be able to offer customers the best service safety as possible.

“This isn’t simply a box ticking exercise of adding token free-from and vegan dishes to menus. Eating out is an experience to be enjoyed, and as such all customers should be offered a choice of delicious, imaginative and creative dishes.”

Adrian Ling, from Plamil Foods, which produces free-from, vegan and vegetarian food, said: “The important question is not should I be catering for this market,  but how much will I be losing out on if I do not cater for this market?

“Foodservice operators need to category manage. They should have offerings for each category. Don’t have 10 offerings for the standard meat eater, as you will sell the same amount with eight offerings. By replacing meat options with free-from/vegan items you will open up to a large potential customer base. 

“You only have to look at the new Veggie Pret store that is now here to stay, to recognise the demand is there.” 

Tony Goodman, CEO of Yumsh Snacks Ltd, which produces free-from crisps and popcorn, agreed there was a growing demand for free-from products.

He said: “Savvy restaurant operators will have noted an increased preference for free-from products. The demand for gluten and wheat-free food is driving this growth, partly led by the trend for health and wellbeing. Some consumers are choosing free-from products for healthier lifestyles while some choose free-from products because of an allergy or intolerance.

“Plant-based diets are also growing in popularity, with The Vegan Society recently reporting that more than half a million people in the UK now follow a vegan lifestyle.”

David Street, from the Premium Snack Company, which produces snacks using natural ingredients, added: “As special dietary produce continues to be allocated greater shelf space and is no longer limited to the specific in-store fixtures it once was, it’s clear that free-from is undergoing a transition from ‘niche to normal’ and that the category presents an important opportunity for retailers and the QSR market.

“While those who choose free from products out of necessity rather than preference still account for the majority of market share, consumers choosing to cut meat, gluten, wheat, eggs or dairy from their diets in a bid to lead altogether healthier lifestyles, rather than as a solution for specific ailments or intolerances, are helping to move free-from into the mainstream food-to-go/QSR markets and significantly drive the growth of the sector.

“In the more developed US market, gluten-free snacks alone have been responsible for driving recent growth, with sales increasing by 132% between 2013 and 2015, highlighting the opportunity for UK retailers.”

Why is free-from and vegan food growing in popularity?

Tarryn Gorre, Co-founder of Kafoodle, an app that helps diners find places to eat with menus that cater for food allergies or intolerances, said: “There are over two million people suffering from one or more food allergies in the UK and this number is growing every year.

“Forty-five per cent of people need to consider a food allergy or intolerance when cooking for their families and 5-8% of children have a food allergy.  This makes the market ripe, with the free-from sector growing daily. In addition, the average consumer is now much more aware of sugar, fats and other nutritional values.

“Pre-2014, it was much easier for caterers of all kinds to shut their eyes to this trend, but since the introduction of 2014 legislation making it obligatory for restaurants of all kinds provide information on allergens on demand, this issue has really come to the fore.

“There’s been a massive growth in demand for foods that are not only free-from in terms of allergens but also meet dietary requirements in terms of being low sugar, low carb or high in protein. This is the kind of food that people are eating at home and are increasingly demanding when they eat out.”

Tony added: “Overall, one in three consumers are now choosing food and drink which is ‘free-from. This is for several reasons.

“Health and wellbeing is driving growth, and free-from veganism is reaching a far wider audience, thanks to a growing choice of products on the market and even some celebrities endorsing such lifestyle choices. Consumers are also opting for free-from products as they look to add variety to their shopping baskets by trying new textures, flavours and ingredients.”

Emily Sudell, from family bakery Bells of Lazonby, said: “The choice of foods available and the taste of these products versus mainstream products is becoming ever more indistinguishable. Therefore the added benefits of avoiding gluten and dairy comes at so much less of a taste compromise now that more consumers are purchasing these products at higher frequency rates.”

David Street agreed that the added benefits of free-from food were helping to drive the growth in popularity. He said: “Time and again, our customers report that they are keen to buy free-from products, even when they do not suffer from any allergies or intolerances.

“It’s this perception of free-from ranges as functional foods – foodstuffs whose benefits go far beyond the realms of basic nutrition to deliver a positive impact on health – that could be attributed to price increases across the category, with ‘flexible’ free-fromers viewing the above-average costs as a sign of a quality product.”

Nikolai added: “In recent years, consumers have become educated about the food they eat and are now more health conscious. There has been an unprecedented growth in consumers’ awareness about the effects food can have on our health, such as red meat being linked to cancer. As a result, we are seeing a clear shift in preference of a large number of consumers in favour of cleaner, healthier more natural food, which often happens to be vegan.

“Therefore, why would we eat products that have the possibility of damaging our health when free-from products provide a healthier option?

“If we, producers, can create great tasting food without artificial additives and allergens such as egg, gluten, lactose, wheat, etc, then we create more choice for consumers and this is something food service operators need to consider.”

Paul Eason, from pastry product producer Pidy, agreed. He said: “A growing awareness of the health and digestive benefits of free-from foods, even amongst those without dietary requirements has led to the significant uptake in popularity of free-from ingredients. At the same time as foods become more popular, manufacturers are developing new processes and focusing heavily on using quality ingredients, which has not only increased the number of free-from foods available, but created authentic textures and flavours which are extremely similar to their original versions.”

Aine Melichar, from dairy ingredients producer Kerrymaid, said: “Across the category, people are becoming more aware of what’s in their food and the effect it may have on their health. With the allergen legislations that came into place in December 2014, caterers now have to be 100 per cent confident of what ingredients they are using in their meals.

“Fourteen ingredients are covered by the legislation, which applies to both food sold with and without packaging, and Kerrymaid has been at the forefront of helping caterers as it has been comprehensively labelling its products with detailed nutritional information well before the new regulations became part of the law.

“Gluten-free sales have seen an astronomical 30 per cent increase over the last six years, a trend that shows no sign of slowing down. The growth in gluten-free sales is relevant not only to the increase in coeliac diners, but for those looking to adopt overall healthier lifestyle.”

Louise Collins, of Booja-Booja, which produces sweet products using organic ingredients, which are gluten, dairy and soya free, said: “Increasing demand has led to more free-from and vegan foods being produced and brought to market so there’s more choice than ever before and with that increased choice has come increasingly high standards – consumers now quite rightly expect free-from foods to compete with the mainstream versions.”

What are the latest trends in the free-from and vegan market?

Nikolai said: “As consumer awareness of health risks associated with consumption of certain food continues to grow, we are seeing that more and more people are shifting their preferences in favour of cleaner, identifiable, free-from foods.

“Veganism is continuing to rise and is currently taking central Europe by storm. It is important to realise that this trend is not local to the UK. For instance, in Germany there are seven million vegetarians and 1.3 million vegans, huge numbers, which are highly likely to increase in the future.

“In the UK, the market for falafel has grown an impressive 20 per cent since last year. Falafel is now the number one choice for a growing number of vegans and vegetarians, and people shifting to plant-based diets. This is a trend that will only increase in the future, while consumption of animal-based protein, especially red meat, is expected to gradually decline as flexitarianism becomes more and more popular as a dietary choice and lifestyle.”

David Street agreed that plant-based food were proving very appealing to consumers looking for free-from food. He said: “While consumers want functional foods to deliver results that verge on the supernatural, they also want ranges to remain as near to their natural state as possible. Plant-based products, which are simple, recognisable and have zero-added ingredients, and an abundance of naturally-occurring vitamins and nutrients, are all key preferences.”

Tarryn highlighted the move towards ‘clean eating’. She said: “There’s a massive trend towards clean eating (low sugar, low carbohydrates, raw food etc) and this is something that people are requesting when they eat out too.  We know that customers at, for example Temptations coffee shops, like to be able to see the calorie content on their sandwiches.”

Louise pointed out that there is also demand for free-from and vegan deserts. She said: “There is a lot of attention on vegan and free-from ice cream at the moment. Both artisan and mainstream brands have launched new products in recent months.”

Pointing out the need for choice when it comes to vegan and free-from options, Adrian said: “Outlets should try to start to think past the standard offerings, as it is becoming a competitive market. No longer should you be asking the question ‘do we have a vegan offering?’ Instead you should be asking ‘is my vegan food better/different than a competing business?’” 

What considerations do businesses need to take when preparing/serving free-from products alongside non free-from products?

Highlighting the risk of cross-contamination in regards to food preparation, Nikolai said: “Avoiding cross-contamination is the biggest challenge. If products that are free-from come into contact with items that are not free-from, cross-contamination may occur and certain harmful allergens may be transferred to the ‘free-from’ food.

“Food products, which have been subjected to cross-contamination may cause violent reactions amongst consumers with food sensitivities. Also such products cannot be claimed to be free-from.

“To avoid cross-contamination strict measures of separation must be implemented. Suppliers of ingredients must be vetted and checked to ensure that they have implemented anti-contamination practices.

“For instance, certain legumes are often found to contain material levels of gluten and this is often due to certain farming and harvesting practices employed.

“Areas used for products that contain, for example gluten, have to be very well cleaned if they are then going to be used to produce gluten-free products. There needs to be strict barriers to separate areas. To do it properly is harder than most people think.

“London Falafel is 100% free-from any cross-contamination as we only produce one product - falafel, and use only natural and free-from ingredients. We also carefully vet all our suppliers and ensure they have the necessary anti cross-contamination measures and certifications in place.”

Adrian agreed that the supply chain and how food is prepared were important elements to consider. He said: “There needs to be clear understanding of what the ingredient contains, and in particular, be aware that if a supplier is changed for any reason, that the ingredient being purchased does not contain any allergen that the previous ingredient did not. This is a critical point, which if it is underestimated could have severe consequences.

“Secondly, an understanding of segregation, preparation and serving of foods is needed. This should be pre-planned. A good guide for segregation is that, in cleaning terms, if it looks clean and dry then allergens may not be transferred, but thoughts about airborne allergen transfer should be considered.” 

Andrew pointed out that foodservice businesses are now required by law to provide clear information on allergens in food sold unpackaged. He said: “Since December 2014, the EU Food Information for Consumers Regulation requires food businesses to provide clear information about the 14 key allergens on food sold unpackaged. Legislation can often be a mind-boggling minefield and it’s worth considering bringing in a knowledgeable outside consultant.”

He advised that operators need to consider:
• Training front of house and kitchen staff about food allergens and intolerances
• Effective ingredient labelling and storage
• Writing clear and concise information on menus
• Preparing an order for a customer with a food allergy or intolerance, especially when their allergy is severe
• Use and storage of separate utensils and equipment
• Sourcing food and dealing with any changes in either supplier or goods
• Stablishing good practice throughout your business
• Applying for accreditations and awards.

What does the future hold for free-from and vegan products?

“The future is very bright for free-from and vegan products that genuinely compete alongside their conventional counterparts,” says Louise. “It’s no longer enough to be ‘good enough for free-from’ - consumers expect and deserve free-from products that are delicious full stop.”

Nikolai agreed. He said:  “Consumers have now clearly shown that we want to eat fresh, natural food made of clean, identifiable ingredients.

“In future, I expect that great tasting free-from food will remain highly sought after, yet the focus will be on plant-based, vegan food made, for instance, of high-in-protein chickpeas and beans, fresh herbs, clean vegetables and so on.

“As awareness continues to grow, the ingredient label at the back of pack will become ever more important. Consumers will be reluctant to buy foods containing ingredients known to carry health risks, for example Xanthan gum, Guar gum etc, or simply ingredients which consumers do not understand, for example dextrose monohydrate and other commonly found, but not immediately understood, ingredients.

“I believe that great tasting, clean, free-from food based on plant protein will be the future of food in the UK and Europe.”

In terms of growth in the sector, Tarryn said: “The size of the free-from market is growing every year so this is something that businesses will be looking at in terms of new product development and marketing to back it up.

“We’ve developed an app for consumers to allow them to find places serving food that meets their dietary requirements in terms of allergens and nutritional requirements.  This provides consumers with more freedom to find what they’re looking for and eat safely, but it also allows caterers who are doing a good job in this area with a marketable opportunity.

“I think in general we’ll see a rise in the number of businesses embracing technology solutions to meet customer demand (and legal compliance) in this area. Millennials make up a high proportion of the food-to-go and QSR sector and this generation in particular is confident using technology. Basically, technology can help everyone from chefs and front of house staff to customers and, with increased consumer demand for food transparency, this is a trend to watch.”

Adrian added: “All indicators show that both free-from and vegan diets are on the increase.

“As the millennial generation matures, it is clear that those food outlets that do not, or choose not, to offer a vegan alternative will do so at a cost to themselves from lost business.

“It is estimated that the free-from sector will be worth £670m by 2020. Vegan foods are starting to penetrate into the premium restaurant market, but this sector seems to be lagging behind. There still appears to be many of these that are ignoring the clear trend, but once the Millennial generation mature, I am sure those setting the menus will finally wake up to the potential or potential loss in business.”

David Street said: “2017 will see consumers being presented with more choice than ever before, as the industry seeks to innovate and ride the wave of this growth in the category. Consumers are now demanding healthy, ‘clean’ on-the-go options that are also exciting, different and delicious.”

David Colwell agreed, adding: “Just because you have an intolerance, this shouldn’t mean you have to suffer bland food.  With regards to the chilled soup category we can see this becoming ever more adventurous – in line with the consumer palate – with world flavours such as Mexican, Sri Lankan and Indonesian, that add ‘heat’ and serious flavour, finding favour with consumers.”

It is clear to see that it is not only people who suffer from allergies and intolerances who are seeking out free-from food foods.

As consumers become more aware about how food is produced, the ingredients used and the impact they can have on our health, it is only to be expected that the free-from sector will continue to grow.

Adding to the attraction, is the fact that free-from and vegan products are being produced without compromising on taste.

However, food-to-go and QSR operators looking to tap into this growing sector have do more to attract customers seeking out free-from and vegan food.

Be it provide a more imaginative offering, or market their free-from/vegan credentials, operators need to take action if they want to claim a share of this lucrative market.



Thursday, 1st December, 2016
IGD’s Food-to-Go Conference: a fast-track to the fast lane

When the going gets tough, the tough get food-to-going

Seeing only limited growth in grocery retail in these times, the industry has had to look to alternative channels for inspiration and uplift. With a predicted 35% growth over the next five years, food-to-go is the solution that’s been wrapped, and is ready and waiting.

As such, it’s no surprise that more and more retailers are following the likes of the supermarkets, symbol operators and the foremost forecourt names into this £16bn market.  The result is a fast-moving sector, says IGD, whose work with businesses at the vanguard of the food-to-go revolution results in this year’s Food-to-Go Conference 2016, taking place on 22nd November in central London.

From fridge to (salad) fork — food-to-go in full

‘It’s crucial to understand the drivers of this growth,’ says IGD’s Rhian Thomas, shopper insight manager’. ‘Food-to-go shoppers are on different missions, there’s no one-size-fits-all, and this translates into different solutions in-store.’

‘Collaboration is key,’ continues Rhian. ‘Between operators, retailers and suppliers, it’s critical to maximise the opportunities.’

Spotting those opportunities — and driving mutual benefit — is central to the Food-to-Go Conference mission. Drawing on input from manufacturers including Coca-Cola, Greencore and Bakkavor, alongside retailers such as Waitrose, Spar and Shell, the conference offers a clear vision of success and best practice in a rapidly-evolving channel. And IGD, with its eye on the trends as ever, promises it will go further, to look at what new customer needs may arise.

Borne out by the big names in attendance, whether a business already has its foot in the door with food-to-go or is keen to get going, the November conference is positioned as a fast-track to growth in the industry’s current fast lane. Find out more.

Tuesday, 1st November, 2016
We take a look at some of the many snacks on offer in the UK

Snack Review 2016

The grab and go market is one of the fastest growing sectors in the food industry. With this in mind, QuickBite decided to get its teeth into the current snack offerings on the market and find out how brands are trying to tempt consumers.

The pace of modern day life means consumers are increasing looking to pick up a quick snack without breaking the bank.

These impulse buys are very important sales targets for businesses and outlets are always on the lookout for the perfect product to tempt customers.

From crisps to popcorn, nuts to seeds and olives to dried fruit, there is a huge range of products on the market.

Indeed, the convenience crisps and snacks market is estimated to be worth around £778m, growing at 1.5 per cent year-on-year.

These figures are dominated by sales of handy packs, which according to analysts account for 46% of sales.

Choosing the correct snack offering is vital for grab and go outlets, as they can add value to a meal deal and offer strong margins.

Healthy snacks are also increasing in popularity, with fruits and seeds among the favourites, while jerky is seen as a great provider of protein after a gym session.

There are also an interesting array of new ingredients being used to create the snacks in our review, the most unusual of which is cricket flour.
Taking all this into consideration, the QuickBite team got to work testing the broad spectrum of snacks the UK market has to offer, with the aim of uncovering what products outlets should look to add to their shelves and countertops to tempt customers.


Bare Popcorn
A family run, British company based in Buckinghamshire, Bare has a ‘no compromise’ approach to making popcorn. With all its products popped in-house, Bare aims to create ‘the lightest and most fun popcorn going’.

After being hand cooked in tiny batches, the fresh popcorn is then tossed in the bended flavours.

Bare Gourmet Popcorn has 100% natural ingredients, is gluten, wheat and GM free and suitable for vegetarian.

The QuickBite team sampled all five products in the range – Sweet ‘N’ Salty, Cinnamon, Sea Salted, Bacon & Maple and Spicy Jalepeno, with the Cinnamon flavour proving a big hit.

Not too sweet, it had a nice light cinnamon flavour, which wasn’t overpowering.

Joe & Seph’s

Joe & Seph’s have created the first official Marmite Popcorn in partnership with Unilever. The corn is air-popped, before being generously coated in buttery caramel and Marmite Yeast Extract - culminating in the ultimate sweet and salty snack.

The flavour is a world first and the business hopes that the joint Marmite/Joe & Seph’s branding will bring new consumers to the popcorn category for the first time, attracted by Marmite’s huge appeal. In addition, the 21g impulse foil pack has been designed to enable merchandising at till locations to maximise rate of sale opportunities.

As with any Marmite product, you either love it or hate it, but the QuickBite team was definitely loving this flavour, which was incredibly moreish.

Popcorn shed

Popcorn Shed creates its gourmet popcorn by hand, using all natural, high quality ingredients that are carefully sourced and free of any preservatives or additives.

The creators aim to ensure perfection from its stylish artisan popcorn taste to the look and feel of the packaging.  With exclusive flavours, great texture and chic appearance, Popcorn Shed hopes to create a feeling of excitement with each and every mouthful.

Popcorn Shed is available in Pecan Pie, Rich Chocolate and Salted Caramel flavours, all of which are suitable for vegetarians and completely gluten free.

The QuickBite team tasted all three flavours, with the Salted Caramel flavour proving a huge hit due to its superb caramel taste, which wasn’t too sweet and wasn’t too salty.

All three flavours also come in fantastic popcorn packaging.


Yumsh Snacks Ltd have combined popcorn with the tangy taste of Tango to create Poptang.

With two flavours – Apple Tango and Orange Tango – the snack is gluten, dairy, GMO and MSG free, as well as kosher and suitable for vegans.

The product comes in 20g or 70g bags and is available for retail, foodservice and vending.

We sampled both of these flavours, with the Apple Tango Poptang proving particularly moreish.


Portlebay Popcorn is created by a small crew of popcorn flavoursmiths, based in Devon.

The company opened for business in 2012, when Jonty White, Neil Adams and Steve Wardlaw decided to pursue their dream of creating a fun, trendy and delicious popcorn brand to rival those in the USA. 

Portlebay has a range of flavours to suit every popcorn fan.

For the sweet toothed, there’s everything from the classic sweet and salty Kracklecorn, to the fun and fizzy Lemon Sherbet. If you like your popcorn with a little added kick, then you can go for the Sweet Thai Sriracha or Wasabi and Sweet Ginger flavours.

Portlebay Popcorn is created using entirely natural ingredients in all ten of their flavours.

We liked the Lemon Sherbet flavour, taking a particular liking to its sweet fizziness.


Moving away from traditional popcorn for the very first time, PROPERCORN’s new Crunch Corn is a half-popped sibling of the business’ signature snack.

Crunch Corn is available in four signature flavours, Rock Salt, Salt and Vinegar, Sweet and Smoky Chilli and Salt and Pepper. Tumbled in all-natural seasoning, Crunch Corn’s texture is described as offering a delicious alternative to nuts, with all the moreish nostalgia of popcorn.

As with PROPERCORN’s award-winning popcorn collection, the Crunch Corn range is gluten-free, suitable for vegans and seasoned using the best-quality, natural ingredients.

All Crunch Corn flavours are available from selected wholesalers in handy single serve bags for on-the-go grazing or in larger bags for sharing, with a RRP of £0.89 and £1.99.

Here at QuickBite, we sampled the Rock Salt and Salt and Vinegar flavours, with the later proving the most popular for its great vinegar taste, which was not too overpowering.

Snack bars

Artisan Snacks

Artisan Snacks’ range of Roasted Edamame Beans and mixed Superfood Bars are high in protein and fibre and are perfect mid-afternoon pick-me-ups, post-workout snacks or on-the-go treats.

The roasted and seasoned Edamame Beans come in two flavours, Sweet Chilli and Sea Salt and Black Pepper. The young soybeans are rich in fibre, high in protein, naturally gluten-free and contain only 13 per cent carbohydrates, making them great for low carb diets – with only 136 calories per bag. RRP £1.20 per bag.

Handmade in the UK, the Superfood Bars combine simple all-natural ingredients with the added goodness of ‘superfoods’. The bars are vegan and vegetarian and contain no wheat, no dairy, no palm oil and no added sugar. They come in a mixed case of four flavours, Goji Berry and Coconut, Baobab and Apple, Quinoa and Apricot and Chia Seed and Blueberry. RRP £1.00.

The QuickBite team got to try all of the flavours of both snacks, with the Chia Seed and Blueberry Superfood Bar proving a hit for its sweet flavour and fantastic texture, which was chewy with a slight crunch. The Sea Salt and Black Pepper flavoured Edamame Beans were also picked out for praise for their light, peppery flavour and crunchy texture.


Made from cricket flour, Crobars are gluten, dairy and soy-free, with no added sugars or sweeteners.

Produced by Gathr, they come in four flavours, Peanut and Cricket Flour; Raspberry, Cacao and Cricket Flour; Cacao and Cricket Flour and Coffee, Vanilla and Cricket Flour.

Crickets are a nutritious and sustainable source of protein and also contain more than twice as much iron as spinach.

The insects are roasted to create the flour, which creates a nutty flavour.

All four flavours were sampled by members of the QuickBite team, with the Peanut and Cricket Flour variety being worthy of note. Packed with peanuts, it was similar in taste to a Snickers bar and a big hit around the office.

Kallo – Milk and Dark Chocolate Rice Cake Thins

Natural and organic food brand Kallø produces sweet and savoury treats, ideal for on-the-go snacking. Kallø uses only natural ingredients in all of its products and the brand’s mission is to make ‘positive eating’ easy for consumers by delivering both taste and simplicity.

The brand’s Chocolate Rice Cakes are available in two variants, Belgian milk and dark chocolate.

The rice cakes are gluten free and contain no artificial colours, flavours or preservatives.

At only 56 calories per rice cake thin, they also offer consumers an indulgent treat on-the-go with simple, natural ingredients.

Both options proved equally popular with the QuickBite team as a healthier alternative to chocolate biscuits.


Billy Franks

Billy Franks Jerky is a multi-award winning snack.

Using only British meats of rare and native breed, grass-fed beef and award-winning farmed ‘English Rose’ turkey breast, Billy Franks produce super high protein dried meat snacks that are also low in sugar, fats and salt.

All the ingredients are carefully sourced from around the world, organic where possible, to bring out the best tastes in the range of flavours.

Each piece of jerky is hand crafted from butchery, marinades, drying and packing and all handmade in house by expert jerky makers.

The QuickBite team were lucky enough to sample three flavours of Billy Franks Jerky. These were Texan BBQ flavour British Beef Jerky, Roast Beef and Mustard flavour British Beef Jerky and Buffalo Hot Wing flavour British Turkey Jerky.

The office favourite was the Roast Beef and Mustard Jerky, which had a great texture and a sweet mustard flavour.

H. Forman & Son - Smoked Salmon Jerky

H. Forman & Son has been curing salmon for over 100 years, using the same high quality fresh Scottish salmon, which is smoked within 48 hours of being pulled from water.

This 100% natural, sugar and fat free snack is as tasty as it is good for you. It’s the perfect snack to tuck into your gym bag, and can be enjoyed on its own or used to add a smoky punch to salads, scrambled eggs or pasta. It is priced at £9.95 for a 250g pack.

The QuickBite team quickly devoured the tub of H. Forman & Son Smoked Salmon Jerky that arrived in the office. With a superb flavour, it is an incredibly moreish snack, which could be used to add flavour and texture to other dishes.

The Savanna – M-eat!

Made from grass-fed Aberdeenshire beef, m-eat! is premium South African food retailer The Savanna’s flagship brand.

Described as premium biltong without compromise, the product is hand hung and dried for two and a half days after being flavoured with Savanna recipe spices.

Sold in 75g packs, m-eat comes in four flavours, Original, Chilli Chutney, Peri Peri and Garlic.

All four flavours were taste tested by the QuickBite team, with the Chilli Chutney flavour proving the favourite due to its soft texture and sweet flavour, which had a slight kick to it.


Brown Bag Crisps

Brown Bag Crisps was launched in 2010 by husband and wife Phil and Viv, who love crisps so much that they decided to set out to attempt to make the most delicious crisps available.

Their award-winning flavours have seen the crisps in many a fabulous outlet throughout the UK and abroad, including Fullers pubs, Rick Stein’s outlets in Padstow, The British Library and countless food establishments, from delis and farm shops, to restaurants and cafes.

The QuickBite team got to sample all six of Brown Bag’s potato crisp flavours. These are Lightly Salted, Sea Salt & Malt Vinegar, Tiger Prawn with a Hint of Chilli and Lime, West Country Farmhouse Cheddar & Onion, Smoked Bacon and Oak Smoked Chilli.

Our favourite was the Tiger Prawn, which had a nice prawn flavour that wasn’t too strong and a good crunch to the crisps. 

Brown Bag Crisps have proved so popular with consumers, Phil and Viv decided they wanted another snack product to complement their six-flavour potato crisps’ range, so have just added vegetable crisps to the Brown Bag family.

Brown Bag’s veggie crisps have 30% less fat that many other brands and the secret method of cooking aims to ensure the wholesome slices of beetroot, carrot and parsnip keep their shape.


Burts Chips is Plymouth’s premium snack brand, winning more than 20 awards in the past two years.

It was one of the first brands to tap into the trend for authentic ingredients with strong traceability credentials, working closely with suppliers from the South West to source the finest seasonings from the local area.

Burts has a premium portfolio of products available to the foodservice sector, including a core offering of eight delicious flavours, ‘better for you’ Lentil Waves range, and licenced partnerships and exclusive flavours with Guinness, Wychwood Brewery’s Hobgoblin, and Levi Roots.

QuickBite got to sample Burt’s Devon Roast Beef potato chips, Thai Sweet Chill potato chips, Sea Salt & Crushed Peppercorns potato chips, Guinness Rich Beef Chilli thick-cut potato chips, Guinness Toasted Cheddar thick-cut potato chips and Thai Sweet Chilli Lentil Waves.

The favourite in the office was the Thai Sweet Chilli flavour, which had a fantastic sweet taste with a chilli kick.

Golden Wonder

Golden Wonder has just relaunched the iconic crisp brand with a bold new look and upgraded flavours, with the aim of packing more punch per crunch and reduced salt levels to meet Food Standards Agency 2017 guidelines. 

The great British brand has been creating its tasty crisps since 1947 and, since introducing Cheese & Onion in 1962, Golden Wonder has gained a loyal following for its distinctive flavours. 

Golden Wonder’s core range includes nine flavours of crisps. These include three ‘hero’ flavours, which are Salt & Vinegar, Cheese& Onion and Sausage & Tomato, along with Smoky Bacon, Ready Salted, Tomato Ketchup, Pickled Onion, Spring Onion and Prawn Cocktail.

Here at QuickBite towers we got to sample the full range, with the Sausage & Tomato offering proving the most popular, due to its simple, yet well-loved, flavour combination.

Just Crisps

Just Crisps are described as being 100 per cent British, home grown, delicious potato crisps that are hand-cooked with their skins left on, flavoured, bagged and boxed all on the farm.

They are cooked in cold-pressed rapeseed oil, which is 35% lower in saturated fat than sunflower oil which other potato crisps are cooked in.
The starch is washed off the potatoes to give a softer bite, while still retaining the flavour and crunch. 

The QuickBite team sampled Just’s Unsalted, Sea Salt, Sweet Chilli, Sea Salt & Black Pepper, Sea Salt & Apple Balsamic Vinegar, Mature Cheddar & Red Onion and Jalapeno flavours.

The Mature Cheddar & Red Onion flavour was QuickBite’s favourite due to its subtle cheese flavour and definite hit of red onion.


KETTLE® Chips describes itself as being the UK’s original and leading hand-cooked crisp brand.

Its core range of 40g bags feature seasonings of Lightly Salted, Sea Salt & Balsamic Vinegar and Mature Cheddar & Red Onion.

In addition new Crispy Bacon & Maple Syrup taps into the current ‘sweet & salty’ flavour trend and is proving to be a big hit with consumers, combining Norfolk bacon with the luxurious sweetness of Maple Syrup.

In addition, the company has also launched its new KETTLE® Bites, with less than 100 calories per pack.

The wholegrain and lentil snacks are made using unique baked technology, so each pack contains 50% less fat than standard crisps, making them the perfect snack for those seeking a lighter alternative when snacking on the move.

KETTLE® Bites are available in Mozzarella & Pesto Lentil Curls and Maple Barbecue Wholegrain Waves, at the RSP of 70p per bag.

The QuickBite team tasted all of the flavours mentioned above, with the Maple Barbecue Wholegrain Waves being the favourite. With a lovely BBQ flavour and a hint of maple, the crunchy wholegrain snack is definitely one to tempt customers with.


Mackie’s Crisps was founded in 2009 as a joint venture between third generation Perthshire potato farmers, the Taylor family, and Mackie’s of Scotland Ltd, an Aberdeenshire-based family business renowned for their luxury ice cream.

Combining the Mackies’ experience in the premium foods sector with the Taylors’ expertise in growing quality potatoes, the company has created a premium range of potato crisps, which are available in about 15 countries around the world.

Mackie’s Crisps are made in Scotland using the best varieties of crisping potatoes. The company take great pride in their unique gentle cooking method which ensures a great crunch, fresh potato taste and dry texture.

The standard Mackie’s Crisps range consists of nine flavours. These include traditional flavours, such as Sea Salt and Mature Cheddar & Onion, as well as Scottish Speciality varieties, such as Flamegrilled Aberdeen Angus and Haggis & Cracked Black Pepper flavour. More recently Mackie’s Crisps have launched a range of ridge cut crisps and popcorn.

Here at QuickBite, we sampled the delights of Haggis & Cracked Black Pepper, Tangy Tomato and the brand’s Scotch Bonnet Chilli Pepper.

The Haggis & Cracked Black Pepper proved a particular favourite, with praise for its peppery flavour and fantastic crisp texture, which wasn’t too thick and wasn’t too thin and had a great snap.


Premium crisp brand Pipers has been producing its crisps since 2004. 

The company says it is passionate about delivering the best taste and quality possible, with no gimmicks.

Pipers recently launched Atlas Mountains Wild Thyme & Rosemary as the latest addition to the range of flavours which, between them, have won 23 gold Great Taste Awards since 2007. 

Gluten-free and suitable for vegetarians and vegans, Atlas Mountains Wild Thyme & Rosemary is described as being an ideal flavour accompaniment to sandwiches, soups, pasta and salads, so will be perfect for daytime eating and the ‘food-to-go’ sector.

Atlas Mountains Wild Thyme & Rosemary crisps are available in 40g pack size and 150g sharing bags.

The QuickBite team sampled the Atlas Mountains Wild Thyme & Rosemary crisps, along with the other seven flavours in the range, which are Wissington Tomato, Biggleswade Sweet Chilli, Kirby Malham Chorizo, Burrow Hill Cider Vinegar and Sea Salt, Lye Cross Cheddar and Onion, Karnataka Black Pepper and Sea Salt and Anglesey Sea Salt.

We picked out the Atlas Mountains Wild Thyme & Rosemary crisps for a special mention, due to the delicious herby flavour. This is a crisp that would be perfect with a sour cream dip.

Real Crisps

Real Handcooked Crisps are a range of strong, no-nonsense flavours. 

Popular varieties within the range include Ham & English Mustard, Strong Cheese & Onion and Roast Ox.

However, it was the recently launched, limited edition Pepperoni flavour that the QuickBite team was lucky enough to try.

Real Pepperoni is a well-flavoured crisp, with a good crunch and perfect for snacking or with a sandwich. 

Limited editions are a great way to add interest for customers who are looking for something a bit different to the core range on offer.


The hunky chunky potato crisp from Great Food Affairs Ltd, launched in 2016.

SLABS are four times thicker than any other crisp and described by the company as being almost like a potato biscuit.

SLABS are available in 80g sharing bags, 40g single serve bags and one kilo foodservice buckets for outlets looking to use crisps to garnish plates.

SLABS are direct delivered with a minimum order of just 4 boxes, delivered the next working day.

The QuickBite team sampled the Sea Salt, Mature Cheddar and Onion, Salt and Malt Vinegar, and Sweet Red Chilli flavoured slabs.
The latter was voted the best of the bunch due to its subtle sweet chilli flavour.

Being flat and thick, Slabs would be great with dips and cheese, giving foodservice operators other serving options.

Ten Acre

Ten Acre is an award winning brand of premium, ‘Free From Plus’, hand cooked crisps and popcorn from Yumsh Snacks Ltd.

These gourmet snacks are available in a wide range of flavours, including the Great Taste Award winning The Secret of Mr Salt, Pastrami in the Rye, When the Chilli Got Sweet and When the Cheese Met the Onion crisps and Ambrose Popperley’s Wasabi popcorn.

All Ten Acre snacks are comprehensively ‘Free From Plus’ that is premium quality, crisps and popcorn, which are gluten, dairy, MSG and GMO free, as well as vegan, vegetarian, halal and kosher certified.

We sampled a range of Ten Acre crisps and popcorn, with the When Hickory Got BBQ’d flavour proving a particular favourite.

With a great on-trend hickory BBQ taste and fantastic crunch, these are definitely a flavour to consider adding to your snack offering.


Premium English snack brand Tyrrells is preparing to kick-off the festive season with the launch of two new products.

Taking on the busy festive snacking category, Tyrrells limited edition winter seasonals include Three Bird Roast crisps and Bellini Poshcorn.

The Christmas trio of roast chicken, duck and turkey are brought to life on a characterful curly crisp, developed on the back of the rise of fanciful Christmas dinners.

Hand-cooked in small batches, using locally-grown Herefordshire potatoes, Tyrrells Three Bird Roast is available in sharing and impulse packs. RRP £2.19p and £0.79p respectively.

Bellini Cocktail Poshcorn is Tyrrells’ first Christmas seasonal line of popcorn. Building on the trend for cocktail-themed snacks, Bellini Cocktail is available in sharing sized 75g packs and is popped in small batches at Tyrrells Court Farm, using gold standard kernels. RRP £1.59.

We sampled both products, with the Three Bird Roast recommended to tempt customers over the festive period.

Pork crackling/scratchings


Launched in June, Gruntled is a new brand of premium pork crackling.

The creation of Dave Willis, co-founder of Salty Dog Brands, whose other snack products include Salty Dog and Darling Spuds hand-cooked crisps, as well as a range of nuts, popcorn, cheddar biscuits and roasted corn, Gruntled is produced from the finest Danish pork rind.

It is then cooked twice to give it a light texture, then seasoned with flavours, which are all natural, gluten-free and have no additives.

Here at QuickBite we tucked into Gruntled’s English Mustard, Cornish Sea Salt and Habanero Chilli flavours.

The Habanero Chilli variety was a particular favourite, with praise for having plenty of kick and a great crunch.

Mr Porky

With a reputation for quality that comes from making pork snacks for more than 30 years, Mr Porky is described as being Britain’s number one pork snack brand. 

With a range of snacks that includes core Pork Scratchings; Prime Cut, which has larger, more succulent pieces and Mr Porky Handcooked, a more artisan product; Mr Porky has a pork snack for every occasion and outlet.

The brand has now introduced Crispy Strips, which aim to deliver all the taste of pork scratchings but with a light crispy texture and 30% less fat.

We got to sample Mr Porky’s Crispy Strips, along with the Prime Cut pork scratchings.

Both products had a great flavour, with the Crispy Strips proving the pick of the two due to the light crispy texture and fantastic pork scratching taste.

Vegetable-based snacks

Fairfields Farm

Essex-based artisan crisp producer Fairfields Farm has been farming potatoes for three generations in East Anglia, and started producing its own hand-cooked potato and vegetable crisps in 2006.

Now, moving away from the hand-cooked crisps it is traditionally known for, Fairfields Farm’s new Lentil Lites offer a healthier alternative for customers looking to enjoy a lighter snack.

Available in Blue Cheese, Jalapeño Chilli & Lime and Tomato & Herb flavours, Lentil Lites are under 99 calories a bag, low fat, gluten free and made from all-natural ingredients.

They are available in 20g foil-fresh bags, RRP 75p.

The QuickBite team sampled all three flavours of Lentil Lites, with the Blue Cheese flavour taking the plaudits for its amazing cheesy flavour and light crunchy texture.


Hippeas is an all new range of organic chickpea puffs, which aim to shake-up the global snacking market with clear health credentials and exciting flavour profiles.

Organic, gluten free, vegan, low in calories, a source of protein and high in fibre, they are described as being ‘packed with good vibes’.

We sampled the Pepper Power and In Herbs We Trust flavours of Hippeas, picking out the latter for its herby overtones and nice hint of oregano.

Leighton Brown

Leighton Brown was started in late 2009 by three friends whose mission was to bring ‘affordable luxury’ to snackers nationwide.

The brand’s first flavour Parsnip & Manuka Honey, won a Gold Star at the prestigious Guild of Fine Food, Great Taste Awards 2014, as did the Sweet Potato Crisps with Cheese and Jalapeno in 2013. Leighton Brown has since added a third flavour, Beetroot Crisps with Horseradish and Dill.
All of Leighton Brown’s products are created with natural, non-GM ingredients and contain no preservatives. They are gently cooked in sunflower oil and hand seasoned.

They are suitable for vegetarians and gluten free.

We sampled all three varieties, with the Parsnip & Manuka Honey being named the favourite due to its delicious blend of flavours giving the crisps a slight curry flavour.

A special mention also has to be made for Leighton Brown’s fantastically-designed packaging, which really stood out among the rest of the brands.


Nuto is a range of premium healthy snacks which aim to introduce to consumers flavoured lotus seeds (foxnut), which is described as being healthy and nutritious.

This unique product provides a natural source of protein, essential amino acids and other minerals.

Lotus seeds are also known to help regulate blood pressure, detoxify the spleen, reinforce the kidneys and nourish the blood.

Available in Salt and Pepper and Maple and Smoked Paprika flavours, Nuto is low in calories, suitable for vegetarians and gluten free.

Both flavours were taste tested by QuickBite, with the subtle sweetness of the Maple and Smoked Paprika proving a big hit with the team.

Taking the Pea

Created by an Aussie who got a taste for healthy snacks after munching on his first wasabi peas, Taking the Pea aims to appeal to people looking for an alternative to the savoury snacks currently on the market.

Made with home-grown green marrowfat peas, the product is seasoned with vegetarian-friendly ingredients and roasted to make them nice and crunchy.

Taking the Peas come in four flavours - Sweet Chilli Salsa, Cheesy Peasy & Onion, Smoked Ham and Wacky Wasabi - with each pack providing less than 145 calories.

The QuickBite team were treated to all four flavours, with the Sweet Chilli Salsa variety proving the most popular of the bunch due to its nutty flavour and subtle sweet chilli flavour, which wasn’t overpowering.

Hand-held snacks

Mom’s Rosti Dog

Gourmet hot dog brand Mom’s is aiming to take a bite out of the snack market with its recently launched Rosti Dog range.

Mom’s Rosti Dog is a premium dog wrapped in a crispy oven baked potato rosti. 

Made using only the finest ingredients, they are available in four flavours: Mom’s Original Rosti Dog; a premium pork hot dog wrapped in crispy and golden potato, Mom’s Breakfast Rosti Dog; especially made for British breakfast market, with the most popular breakfast ingredients of scrambled egg, bacon and mushroom; Mom’s Chilli Cheese Rosti Dog; a hot dog with fresh chilli and cheese for a sensational kick and Mom’s Veggie Rosti Dog; filled with delicious cream cheese and spicy jalapenos, a great addition to the vegetarian range on the market.

Mom’s Rosti Dogs are gluten-free and suitable for everyone.

With this in mind, the QuickBite team sampled the full range, with the Original Rosti Dog being named the favourite, with the delicious pork hot dog, perfectly complemented by the crisp potato rosti.

Tuesday, 1st November, 2016
Discover what to look out for at Café Biz

Cafe-Biz Expo

As exhibitors count down the days till the Café Biz Expo at Manchester United Football Stadium on 10 November, the demand for stands is at an all-time high.

The one-day trade show has seen an influx in exhibitor sign-ups and visitor registrations as many hope to secure the best spots to do business and see the latest trends and innovation in café business.

The show which is backed by the Beverage Standards Association welcomes trade customers from café owners and operators, through to contract caterers, facilities managers, hotels, pubs, restaurants and fast food outlets.

Visitors can find the best of everything from coffees, teas and syrups right through to machines, equipment and water filtration systems.

Brought to you by Phil and Jenny Reynolds of Trade Events, the creators of the successful one-day Vendex trade show - Café Biz Expo is aimed at the fast expanding away from home coffee sector in the Midlands and North of England and will provide one valuable intensive day of industry sharing.

Trade Events co-founder Phil Reynolds said: “Until now there hasn’t been a trade only event in the North, Café Biz Expo provides an event for suppliers to showcase their brands outside of London and allows them to keep up to date with the latest products, equipment and trends in the growing HORECA market. Attendees receive free entry and parking, so it’s an inexpensive and easily accessible trade event.”

The Beverage Standards Association will be hosting the finals of their Barista Challenge, for baristas who work for accredited sites and employees of BSA members.

Working in collaboration with San Remo, the Barista Challenge will involve 16 baristas competing over a number of heats until a winner is crowned in the final. Competitors will have to create a selection of drinks within a 15-minute time frame and will need to meet the agreed standards laid down by the association in its accreditation procedure.

BBC Wales are scheduled to be following one of the baristas through the heats and will be filming the finals on the day of the show.

To find out more about exhibition space or to register as a visitor, watch the video and visit the website at: www.cafebiz.co.uk or contact Phil Reynolds on 07711182888 or Jenny on 07714450247.

Tuesday, 1st November, 2016
Find out how your business can expand its hot beverage offering

Hot Beverages

As winter draws in, there’s no better way to warm up than with a hot drink. With the coffee culture still going strong and the range of black, green, fruit and herbal teas growing all the time, we discover how outlets can improve their offering and find out about the equipment that will help them serve the perfect brew.

The hot drinks market in the UK is massive.

According to The British Coffee Association, around 55 million cups of coffee are consumed every day, while 165 million cups of tea are consumed per day, as revealed on the UK Tea and Infusions Association’s website.

The popularity of coffee is clear to see on the high street, with international and national chains, as well as independent outlets, serving up coffee-based drinks of all descriptions and flavours.

Tea, however, has struggled out of home and, despite it being the nation’s favourite beverage, consumers are shunning a cuppa when seeking refreshment at food-to-go and QSR outlets.

In this feature we will find out how operators can address this, as well as discover the latest trends across the rest of the sector.

Industry voices: Jon Steward, Sales Manager, U-Select; Lee Noble, Director, Shop-Equip; Shahida Bibi, Marketing Executive, The Printed Cup Co; Becci Eplett, UK Marketing Manager, Hutamaki UK; Andrew Scott, Managing Director, Victus Hospitality Consultancy; Justin Stockwell, Managing Director, Caffeine Ltd; Grace Keenan, Foodservice Marketing Manager, Kerry Beverage; Barry Kither, UK Sales and Marketing, Lavazza; Isabelle Haynes, Tetley Senior Brand Manager – Out of Home; Rhodri Morgan, Marketing Manager for Tea, Unilever Solutions, and Jonathan White, Marketing Manager, Mitchell & Cooper. 

What are the most popular products on the market at the moment?

Focusing on tea, Andrew Scott, of Victus Hospitality Consultancy, said: “The trend of the moment is for fruit and herbal teas. This presents a fantastic opportunity for operators as more and more artisan tea leaves become available on the market.”

Isabelle Haynes, from tea producer Tetley, agreed that fruit and herbal teas offered opportunities for outlets. She said: “Everyday black tea accounts for 60% of all spend, however, new sectors of green tea (13.4%), fruit and herbal (+2.8%) infusions are growing at a combined 6.6% according to latest Nielsen data.

“With consumers becoming more adventurous, operators should stock a range of tea blends that stand apart from those their customers enjoy at home.”

Rhodri Morgan, Marketing Manager for Tea at Unilever Food Solutions, added: “In terms of the most popular hot drinks, fruit and herbal infusions have seen 6% growth in year-on-year sales – with green teas surging by 12%.”

In terms of coffee, Jon Steward, of U-select, which is part of the PKL Group and offers flexible financing options on catering equipment, said: “Across all sectors we are seeing a push towards a much higher quality hot beverage offer.

“The explosion in coffee shops has created a very knowledgeable customer - they know what good quality coffee and tea tastes like and they won’t accept anything less.

“We’re finding that this pressure is encouraging smaller establishments, who don’t have the money or time to invest in Barista training, to buy high-end bean-to-cup machines like those in the Faema Barcode range, which can produce more than 100 cups of coffee a day without needing any difficult training - you just click a button on the machine and let it do its thing!

“Consistency is key for bean-to-cup machines, so buy brands that have a good track record, follow the care guidance closely and make sure you have a comprehensive maintenance contract too.”

Justin Stockwell, of Caffeine Ltd, which supplies equipment to businesses operating in the industry, said: “Coffee is a must-offer. It’s essential to be able to serve fine tasting espresso, cappuccino, latte and flavoured milk drinks at all times if you want to build customer loyalty.”

How can technology add value to your hot beverage offering?

“With the right kind of technology, you can ensure that the quality of coffee serves is at its optimum,” says Barry Kither, of coffee product manufacturer Lavazza. “One solution to providing barista-quality coffee – without employing barista-qualified members of staff – is capsules.

“This is the fastest-growing part of our business; a capsule-based solution allows pubs and restaurants to provide a variety of serves at consistent quality, cost-effectively.”

Jon added: “With machines like bean-to-cup or top quality tea machines like Lipton’s Tea Fusion you get the best of both worlds - a high-quality product that requires no training for staff and no monitoring during the drink’s production. 

“This does two things - it guarantees the taste customers will receive, because you just have to press a button to produce the drink and it also frees you up to do other things like getting food ready or taking payment, which can dramatically speed up your service.

“There is also the opportunity for branding with the very newest machines, such as the beautiful Faema X30, which has an intuitive touchscreen interface that can have your brand appear on it when it is not being used, or even advertise your special offers.”

Jonathan agreed that new technology was imperative to help speed up service. He said: “Equipment that speeds up work behind the bar is becoming increasingly popular, as it allows for a quick moving queue that is likely to lead to happier, returning customers.”

Lee Noble, from foodservice equipment supplier Shop-Equip, said: “The range of beverage equipment available from Shop-Equip Limited varies from manual fill water boilers to pour and serve coffee systems through to fully automatic coffee machines, all manufactured and backed by leading brands with established reputation for quality, durability and reliability and importantly warranty.

“Some items may seem attractively priced, but if they are only provided with a back to base warranty, then you could be left without a vital piece of equipment over busy periods should workshop warranty work need to be carried out.

“Shop-Equip are currently experiencing a surge in automatic fill water boilers with in-built filtration and on-board diagnostics. The ease of self-maintenance and reduced service costs ensure your customers have a constant, un-interrupted service. By getting the right equipment from Shop-Equip Limited and by using quality ingredients you will produce a quality beverage which is very much expected by today’s consumer and ensures their repeat business.”

What are the latest innovations and equipment developments in the market?

Jon said: “The quest for quality improvements and service simplifications is relentless, resulting in the bean-to-cup coffee machine’s rise in popularity.

“However, we have also seen a move at the high end of the market. The Ceroffee Roaster is a fantastic piece of kit that can roast up to 15kg of coffee a day, but is completely automatic and uses a 13amp plug.

“It brings very high quality coffee within the reach of the everyday quick service business and is beginning to make its way into the market.”

Justin added: “As coffee consumers become more aware of what is available and what they like, there is a greater call for a variety of good quality coffees. Modern bean-to-cup machines give caterers the opportunity to serve good quality coffee without employing or training specialist baristas.”

However, along with innovations and advances in equipment, Isabelle pointed out that education on how to produce the perfect hot drink was also very important. She said: “It is important that staff have the knowledge and confidence to offer advice on the variety of tea blends they offer.”

To address tea barriers in out of home, such as poor knowledge and quality of serve, Tetley has launched Tetley Tea Masters. It is hoped the education platform will help to drive sales in the sector.

How can businesses ensure their customers get a consistent, premium product?

Andrew said: “Coffee really has become an art, and the quick service industry needs to follow the trend of time and care taken over every cup. There is performance imbued in the craft of making a cup of coffee with a sensory experience that appeals to customers.”

Highlighting a recent innovation that is helping to ensure a consistent, premium cup of coffee, Jon said: “One of the most impressive pieces of kit that I’ve seen in the last few months is the Faema MD 3000 Bluetooth Grinder. Its clever technology allows it to communicate with your espresso machine and monitor the rate at which the water passes through the coffee as it makes each cup.

“If it takes too long it will grind the beans for the next cup to a coarser consistency, guaranteeing the quality and flavour of each and every shot, automatically. We’ve installed this in a number of shops this month and the feedback we’ve received has been brilliant.”

Taking into consideration the need for QSR operators to be able to serve up different variations of quality hot beverages quickly, Justin said: “Modern bean-to-cup coffee machines make a coffee as close to a barista-brewed espresso as a push-button machine can get and are multifunctional, so they can offer dozens of different drink variations at the touch of a button.”

Focusing on tea, Isabelle said: “Ultimately, how a customer takes their tea is a personal preference, so don’t forget to train your staff to ask customers how they like their tea?”

Pointing out the importance of the disposable cup a takeaway hot beverage is served in, Becci Eplett, from packaging specialist, Huhtamaki, said: “As we head into autumn and winter, consumer demand for deliciously indulgent hot drinks ‘to go’ will inevitably increase but providing a consistent, premium product is more than just about the beverage itself. 

“To serve a premium take-out beverage to customers, it’s essential for operators to match the quality of the disposable cups with the quality of the ingredients being used. Our range of double wall paper hot cups offer the perfect solution for those operators looking to complete the premium take-out beverage experience.”

What can food-to-go sites, coffee shops and tearooms do to boost their hot beverage offering?

There are many ways food-to-go sites, coffee shops and tearooms can improve their hot beverage offering and attract more customers.

Isabelle suggested that operators needed to create attractive displays of their products to entice customers. She said: “The key to successful sales is creating an eye-catching, enticing display and informing customers about the choice of beverages available with a detailed tea menu.”

Grace Keenan, from Kerry, which provides beverage solutions across the food industry, said that customers demanded choice and operators should vary their offering depending on the time of year.

She said: “Creating different hot beverage menus for the four seasons and varied key dates in the calendar can aid operators in attracting consumers. Adapting hot drink menus can be as simple as introducing speciality beverages that incorporate the flavours and tastes that are particularly associated with the time of year.”

Lee added: “Automatic coffee machines, such as those manufactured in the UK by Fracino and supplied by Shop-Equip can help you add value and expand your hot beverage offering.

“For such items, it is strongly recommended to ensure that the installation and on-site training is included – or at least can be offered – to help you get the most out of your investment. This also ensures a swift and hassle free response, should any service calls ever be necessary.

“Whatever your requirements, Shop-Equip Limited offer a wide range of Hot Beverage Equipment allowing you to maximise on the potential profit making opportunities available.”

Speed of service was highlighted by Justin as an important factor in encouraging customers to return. He said: “Customers don’t like to be kept waiting. Modern bean-to-cup machines are easy for anyone to operate. They are also faster than a barista (they can dispense up to 350 beverages per hour) and the quality is just about indistinguishable.”

However, Barry said that ensuring the product was up to expectations was the most important factor in attracting more customers. He said: “You need to make more of an effort to ensure your coffee quality is in line with what consumers are enjoying on the high street.”

With regards to disposables, Shahida Bibi, of bespoke printed cup maker, The Printed Cup Co, said: “We advise our customers to use theme base printed paper cups. For example we have been advertising Halloween theme cups, which customers have been responding really well to as they have been boosting their sales.”

In terms of food-to-go, what packaging products/innovations are available for grab and go hot drinks?

When it comes to serving hot beverages, food-to-go and QSR operators have to ensure that the packaging they use keeps the drink warm inside, while remaining cool enough to handle outside.

However, innovative packaging options can have other benefits. 

Shahida said: “We offer personalised paper and plastic cups with any quantity the customer requires. We promote our customers to use the printed cups as a 3D marketing tool to advertise their brand and message.”

Becci said: “With a choice of smooth and embossed varieties available, Huhtamaki’s double wall paper cup range offers outstanding insulation – essential when serving takeaway drinks. 

“Whether it’s a frothy cappuccino or a rich, creamy hot chocolate, double wall cups not only retain the heat of the drink but ensure that the cup is comfortable when held, vital for on the go drinking.

“Alongside the technical properties of the cup, aesthetics have also become more important.  Consumers buy with their eyes and if beverages look the part sales will be secured.”

What new trends are we going to see in 2017?

Becci said: “Healthy eating is likely to remain a priority for consumers and as such, operators will see a demand for a healthier choice of both hot and cold beverages with an increased focus on nutrition; meaning beverages such as smoothies or fruit/green teas, which incorporate superfoods, are likely to still be on trend as we head into 2017.

“Consumers are also more environmentally astute than ever thanks to an improved domestic awareness of recycling and composting and this looks set to continue.

“It is therefore crucial that operators are seen to have strong environmental and sustainability credentials and to have a comprehensive awareness of the issues surrounding this topic. 

“With this in mind, close consideration should be made of using disposables that are made in the UK from materials from sustainably-managed sources and which can be recycled.”

Andrew added that, following the recent publicity about the environmental impact of disposable hot drinks cups, it was the perfect time for small businesses to highlight their green credentials.

He said: “This is a great opportunity for smaller operators to become ambassadors of the industry. One-hundred per cent biodegradable disposable cup options are available and there will come the day when there will be no excuse for not complying, so the time to make the switch is now.”
Pointing out the theatre of making coffee, Jon said: “Roasting coffee beans on site, with machines like the Ceroffee Roaster, is going to be the way for businesses to differentiate themselves on a high street, which is becoming increasingly crowded with coffee shops and chains.

“Create your own roasts will help businesses to build customer loyalty and a good reputation for your brand.”

In terms of offering a variety of flavours, Isabelle said: “With research suggesting consumers want to try new drinks every 60 days, a varied menu can be an important way of driving repeat visits.”

The demand for hot beverages from cafes, coffee shops, tea rooms and other QSR and food-to-go outlets shows absolutely no sign of waning.

However, as our industry voices suggest, there are ways businesses can attract more customers.

It is vital operators ensure their products are up to the standard customers expect. This is especially important with regards to tea, as not everyone takes their tea the same way and staff should take this into consideration when serving customers.

Outlets should also offer a variety of flavour options of tea, coffee and hot chocolate, with special seasonal flavours being introduced at certain times of the year.

Speed of service is also important, both for the customer and the operator. However, outlets have to ensure this doesn’t affect the quality of the product and the theatre associated with coffee making.

Tuesday, 1st November, 2016
We take a look at the latest payment solutions

Accepting Cards and Other Payments

When it comes to taking payments, there are many options for businesses operating in the food-to-go/quick service restaurant industry to choose from. From contactless, to Apple or Android pay, we take a look at how customers can now pay for their meals and discover the advantages of cashless payment systems.

Being able to take payments effectively is vital in the food-to-go/QSR industry.

Advances in technology mean there are now a range of ways customers can settle their bill.

And, it seems, speed and simplicity is very important, with more people turning their backs on cash in favour of cards and mobile apps. 

In general, research by Barclaycard has found that 24 per cent of Britons now opt for electronic options such as Chip and PIN, contactless and mobile payments in favour of cash more frequently than 12 months ago.

The study also found that three in 10 (30%) of people are paying with bank notes less often compared to last year, with a fifth (18%) planning to decrease their use even further in the next year.

As cash declines, the use of contactless in particular is soaring, with data from Barclaycard’s recent Contactless Spending Index showing that ‘touch and go’ transactions leapt 173% by value and 112% by volume in the last 12 months.

In addition, half (50%) of Britons now use contactless at least once a month and one in five (21%) are planning to increase their usage further still in the next year.

With all this in mind we decided to take a look at the payment options available to businesses and how this could change in the future.

Industry voices: Peter Moore, CEO, Lolly; Gerry Hooper, CEO, Zapper; Darren Brown, Head of Sales & Marketing – UK, Orbis Tech, and James Frost, CMO Worldpay UK.

What payment options are available to the QSR/food-to-go industry?

There is an ever-growing number of ways business can take payments from customers.

However, QSR/food-to-go outlets require payment systems that provide solutions to a number of different issues.

For this reason, operators have always looked for the most effective options which are quick, secure, easy to use for both staff and customers, and offer additional extras which help the business run smoothly. 

James Frost, from Worldpay, which provides payment processing technology and solutions for businesses, said: “Britain’s high street fast food outlets have been at the forefront of the payments revolution, offering new and innovative ways to pay, from tap-and-go, to pre-ordering, and even in-app payments.

“Contactless is undoubtedly one of the most popular payment options for food businesses. Last year, the QSR industry accounted for a phenomenal 48% of the total UK tap-and-go transactions processed by Worldpay. The high volumes of lower value transactions which dominate this sector are ideal for cashless payments, which is now the preferred payment method of choice for countless customers. And this will only accelerate as mobile payments, including Apple Pay, Android Pay, and even Samsung Pay, which is set to launch in the UK later this year, fuel further growth.

“Why are these technologies rapidly gaining in adoption? It all boils down to a very simple formula. They’re quick, easy to use and secure. Speeding up service by approximately seven seconds compared to traditional chip & PIN, contactless is the solution to meeting the expectations of the modern consumer. This leads to shorter queues, and the ability to offer consumers a range of payment methods enhances their overall experience. And as we know, happy customers are more likely to return.

“There are many examples of restaurant businesses pioneering new ways of interacting with their customers. The health-food chain Tossed opened the UK’s first cashless restaurant earlier this year, featuring self-service kiosks where customers can browse, place their order and pay with a tap of their card or smartphone. This unique point-of-sale solution allows staff to focus their energy on speed of production, and makes it easier than ever for guests to customize their meals in their own time.

“Today’s consumers have come to expect a frictionless ordering experience within the food-to-go industry. If your technology doesn’t meet customer expectation of what a modern restaurant experience should be, you are in danger of being left behind.”

Peter Moore, from EPoS software company, Lolly, agreed with James’ assessment of contactless payment systems.

He said: “The largest obvious growth is coming from contactless credit and debit payments, because they are quick/low value transactions - reflective of this sector.

“Also, we have seen a recent technology refresh as far as the terminals are concerned. Forty per cent market penetration has led to massive consumer adoption.

“We are also beginning to see uptake of wallets, and adoption increases where there is cross functionality, between loyalty and rewards.”

Darren Brown, of software technology company Orbis Tech, highlighted the payment options available to businesses. He said: “Within the QSR and food-to-go industry, there are a number of payment options available to suit the varying requirements of individual businesses.

“Traditionally, cash has been the most popular payment method in this sector for purchases that total less than £5 to £20.

“However, an increase in the growth of contactless payments, made possible through contactless enabled credit and debit cards, has certainly seen a rapid decline in the popularity of the traditional cash payment.

“In addition to this, the recent introductions of mobile phone payment systems, which both utilise smart phone technology in order to make payments have further encouraged the decrease in the use of cash, even for purchases with small total costs.

“For table service at certain QSR establishments, there are also apps available to allow customers to pay from the table using their smartphone without any need for card use. Customers can pay directly from the app at participating restaurants, check their balance and transfer money to recipients of their choice, providing the recipient has an email address or mobile number. Other online platforms will allow customers to pay for goods in advance and set a date and time for collection or delivery depending on the outlet’s offering. These pre-pay solutions for in-store collection are ideally suited for the commuting consumer who wishes to collect or receive food and drink on the go and avoid queuing during busy rush hour periods.

“Alternative payment options include the use of gift-cards, vouchers and cashless loyalty solutions which have seen a steady increase over the last decade. These payment methods however, will be predominantly tailored to each QSR business and the EPoS software the business uses.”

What equipment do you need to have to ensure you can process payments effectively?

Darren said: “Contactless support and service provisions for businesses in this sector is dependent on the various parts of the payment process.

“For example, if the customer is paying with a debit/credit card or mobile payment system then funds need to be authorised, cleared and transferred from the customer’s bank account to the outlet’s business account.

“For a small fee, this transfer is completed by the merchant acquirer, therefore if a business is undergoing issues with clearing funds or authorisation then the merchant acquirer’s helpdesk may need to be contacted.

“On the other hand, if no connection can be made to the acquirer then there may be an issue with the internet or the connection of the PDQ terminal, in which case the business’ IT provider or the PDQ provider may need to be called in for support.

“Alternatively, if the link from the EPos software to the PDQ is broken and the bill total is not transferring to the PDQ terminal, then the EPoS provider may need to be contacted and assistance sought.”

James added: “A good payment provider will be able to help your business adopt contactless in the most effective, hassle-free way. It is well worth having that conversation at the earliest opportunity; after all, the faster you implement contactless, the sooner you will be able to provide the payment experience your customers have come to expect.

James offered his five key pieces of advice for any fast food business that wants to introduce contactless technology smoothly and effectively:

• Review your existing technology. If you’ve recently adopted new payment terminals, there is every chance that they are contactless-enabled. If that’s the case, all you need to do to get started is contact your payments provider to enable this function. If not, then have a chat with your provider to talk about upgrade options.

• Check your terminal supports the latest technical specifications for High Value NFC, allowing you to accept mobile payments such as ApplePay and Android Pay.

• Keep it simple. Contactless is all about speed and convenience, so review the entire payments process to ensure that all customers need to do is tap and go. For example, it doesn’t make sense to force your customers to queue up to pay when they’ve already waited to order their food.

• Let people know that you support contactless. There is no point enabling contactless payments if customers aren’t aware of the fact. A few in-store adverts or visible callouts around the counter will help customers know that they can tap and go.

• Train your staff. Not only do employees need to understand the technology, but they need to promote it to customers. They will need to have a good grasp of factors such as maximum spend and security features to ensure that they can effectively sell the benefits of contactless to customers.

What equipment do need to ensure you can process payment effectively?

Peter said: “Success is all about system integration.

“For example, offering contactless as a standalone is, I believe, a real waste of time. It’s about end of day reconciliation and being able to monitor sales and activities.

“Where there is system integration with back-office support, this activity can be seriously reduced from a timings perspective.

“Retailers need to embrace integration - it’s the future.”

Darren said: “In order to process data payments quickly and easily, the key hardware equipment a business will require is an EPoS software solution.

“Couple this with a PDQ terminal which is contactless enabled, in order to keep up with the current payment trends, outlets will be able to store and totalise the prices of sold goods both effectively and efficiently, whilst providing a quick payment method for the customer.

“When choosing a PDQ terminal, operators should be aware that not all of them are the same. To ensure that the business is outfitted with the best terminals for their establishment, operators should consult their EPoS software provider in order to ascertain whether the software is able to link up to the PDQ terminal effectively.

“It is essential that they both integrate with one another in order to provide the smoothest possible transaction process and customer experience.”

What future developments can we expect in regards to accepting payments?

“The future of payments is certainly cashless,” said Darren. “And beginning to lean more predominantly towards card and mobile payments.

“Seventy-five per cent of all UK retail sales were made by card, a 10% increase within five years and 18% of all sales are now contactless which has risen by 11% in just one year (Statistics from the UK Card Association 2016). 

“In addition to this, the industry has also seen an increase in the types of cards present on the market as well as some of the more popular brands of debit and credit cards and is a factor which the industry has started to respond too.

“Now, more businesses within the sector will accept a wide variety of different credit and debit cards, not just the most popular cards in the UK, and is something Orbis Tech as software developers are hearing about more and more from our customers.

“The other trend that has large potential for opportunity in the current marketplace is building brand loyalty - a concept that lends itself perfectly to cashless solutions.

“By installing a fully integrated EPoS system and contactless PDQs for example, the software can be programmed to build tailored reward benefits at the same time as capturing individual information about the customer.

“This will then provide the operator with a detailed analysis of their customers’ spending habits and can allow for tailored promotions per customer, unique customer loyalty rewards and even staff prompts.”

James added: “Contactless has already revolutionised the payment industry, with adoption rates skyrocketing across the UK. The latest stats from the UK Cards Association revealed that more payments were made using contactless cards during the first half of 2016 than in all of last year. But this technology is just the beginning.

“Moving forwards, we can expect mobiles to shape the future of payments. Some of our recent research found that over half of consumers would like to be able to leave home without their wallet, instead paying for everything with their smartphone. With so many people happy to leave their wallets at home, it is surely just a matter of time before smartphones replace cards as the main method of payment.

“But although digital wallets such as Apple Pay and Android Pay are propelling mobile money into the mainstream, millennials in particular are crying out for more innovative, frictionless shopping experiences. By making the checkout experience invisible, Uber has pioneered the concept of zero-click payments. And this is a model that the fast food industry can replicate.

“A great example of how this can work is the app created by Harris & Hoole, an artisan coffee chain. The app lets users load their payment card so the payment becomes truly invisible. After the card is loaded the customer simply checks in, walks into one of the coffee chain’s stores, orders, and then gets asked, “Do you want to pay with the app?” They say yes. Done.

“Technology is continuing to raise the bar of consumer expectations, and we have become far less tolerant when it comes to getting what we want, when we want it, as a result. Long queues and cash payments are no longer acceptable for modern shoppers. As consumer preferences change, it’s up to businesses to change with them, and the fast food industry is ideally positioned to drive innovation in the payments space.” 

Peter said: “I believe the future will be all about the different types of wallet coming in to the market, and we’ll see some big names in the world of finance embracing this area.

“When it comes to hardware, it will be less specific, but I do believe that the technology will be all about the cloud and SaaS (software as a service).

“Products will be more generic and less hardware specific.”

Gerry Hooper, of Zapper, a consumer marketing and insight platform enabled by mobile payments, said:  “It’s only going to get quicker, with more personalised features and rewards available, the consumer is impatient and wants things to be more convenient and personalised to them.”

It’s clear to see that the ways quick service restaurants and food-to-go outlets take payments from customers has changed dramatically in recent times.

There has been a move away from paper transactions, with card and contactless payments becoming more prevalent.

Technology has also developed so payments can now be taken using mobile apps.

This new technology has provided a number of advantages for businesses.

As well as allowing operators to speed up transactions and cut waiting times, modern payment systems also provide back-office functions, which include monitoring stock levels and capturing data that can be used by businesses to personalise offers and marketing.

The intuitive nature of new payment technology means it is easier to train staff members to operate it. Another advantage in a busy industry which sees high staff turnover.

The change in payment systems is driven by customers wanting quicker and simpler ways to pay.

The demand for change has forced outlets to move with the times.

And like it or not, if a business fails to provide the customer with what they want, they will fall by the wayside.

Tuesday, 1st November, 2016
We find out about the importance of frozen food

Frozen Foods

The use of frozen food has grown in recent years, with quick-service operators looking for new ways to offer customers exciting dishes at reasonable prices. We find out about the importance of the frozen food market and how using frozen products can benefit businesses.

Dishes cooked using frozen ingredients have for some time had a certain stigma around them, being viewed as inferior in quality to meals prepared from fresh produce.

However, innovations in both freezers and food have meant that the differences in flavour, texture and taste between fresh and frozen dishes are little, if any.

According to the British Frozen Food Federation’s Frozen Food Report II, which was released in September, confidence among both consumers and chefs is growing in frozen food, with the sector generating £2.24 billion worth of sales in foodservice.

The report revealed that the QSR sector alone generated sales of over £1bn.

The popularity of frozen food in this sector has helped to drive innovation and led to a whole host of new frozen food products being developed to help operators.

With this in mind we decided to investigate the importance of frozen products to food-to-go/QSR operators, as well as find out about the value of effective freezer equipment.

Industry voices: Mohammed Essa, Commercial Director, Aviko UK & Ireland; Nigel O’Donnell, Managing Director, Meadow Vale Foods; Sarah Cumber, Marketing Manager, Paramount 21; Helen Morris, NPD Manager, Paramount 21; Nick Williams, Managing Director, Precision Refrigeration; Richard Jansen, Managing Director, Pan’Artisan; Brian Young, Chief Executive, British Frozen Food Federation, and Tony Dumbreck, Managing Director, Innovate Foods.

How important is frozen food to the QSR market and why?

Frozen foods have a lot to offer the foodservice market.

As well as providing nutritional, cost, environment and sustainability benefits, frozen products are also quick and convenient to cook and serve.
However, this is just the tip of the iceberg. 

Brian Young, of the British Frozen Food Federation, the leading trade association for the frozen food sector, said: “Frozen food can help caterers maintain stock control, reduce overheads and improve the all-important bottom line, while still meeting the expectations of diners for consistent quality and flavour.

“QSRs are reliant on producing high quality food very quickly. Using frozen food ingredients, which are delivered pre-prepared, can ensure that preparation and cooking times are significantly reduced, helping to speed up service and easing pressure on catering staff.

“One key benefit of frozen food is that it can help to significantly reduce food waste. High quality, great-tasting ingredients can be purchased pre-portioned, allowing chefs to control portion sizes while any unused food can be placed back in the freezer, helping to reduce food waste and save money.”

Tony Dumbreck, of Innovate Foods, which produces frozen food for the foodservice and catering sector, added: “Frozen food as a category is extremely important to the UK foodservice sector and none more so than QSR. By its very nature, this sector demands food to be prepared and cooked in as short a period of time as possible to accommodate a busy throughput of customers in an outlet. In essence frozen food was made for QSR.

“Over the last 20 years or so there has been a revolution in the quality, range and performance of frozen foods in the busy commercial kitchen. State-of-the-art manufacturing processes, together with blast freezing techniques, can deliver a product that is equally as fresh and delicious as chilled.“

Helen Morris, of Paramount 21, which produces frozen seafood and vegetation dishes for the foodservice industry, agreed that frozen food products provided many benefits to the QSR sector. She said: “QSR operators with busy kitchens look for flexibility and convenience and frozen products fit this bill.  They provide portion control which minimises food waste, they are easy to prepare and, most importantly, quick to serve.

“Having pre-prepared products on a QSR menu allows outlets to offer wider menu choices so the back of house chefs are able to manage multiple dishes with ease. The reduced prep time also means the freezer-to-table service time can be kept to a minimum.”

Nigel O’Donnell, of Meadow Vale Foods, which supplies poultry products to foodservice businesses, added: “Frozen foods play a crucial role in the QSR market.

“Food-to-go outlets and Quick Service restaurants depend heavily on frozen foods at times.

“Frozen foods aim to ensure the timely delivery of meals to customer’s day in, day out, allowing the QSR market to be efficient and consistent in their operations all year round.”

Mohammed Essa, Commercial Director, of Aviko UK and Ireland, said: “Using pre-prepared frozen products has a number of benefits for quick service operators and takes the headache out of menu preparation.

“Preparation of chips and potato products from scratch for example, can be incredibly labour intensive – especially when catering in high volume – so it makes sense for operators to use pre-prepared frozen options and benefit from significant savings in time, labour and cost, without compromising taste or texture. Using quality frozen sides that can be on the plate in minutes, means QSR operators can easily update menus with little fuss, and keep their offerings fresh – essential when catering for large numbers day in, day out.

“Natural produce such as potatoes are also dependant on a number of factors, which can present some challenges to operators, not least that the quality of the raw material can change every month, from variety to variety.

“Aviko has a strict quality control process to make sure only the finest potatoes are used in all its products, working with pre-selected growers all over Europe so we can always ensure we get the best of the crop. This means operators have access to great quality potato products all year round – something they can’t necessarily do when purchasing fresh potatoes for use in the kitchen.”

Richard Jansen, of Pan’Artisan, which supplies frozen dough-based products to the foodservice industry, added: “The convenience offered from using frozen food has always been a main attraction for time-pressed operators, catering for high volumes, relying on quick meal solutions.

“The appeal of having an available product that might otherwise be challenging to produce due to limited kitchen skills or lack of specialist equipment is high, but chefs needn’t give up their creativity or innovation. By using a part-made product they can still influence the end product and place a unique stamp on it, personalising to suit their customers’ needs. 

“Using frozen offers the advantages of greater portion control and helping keep food waste to a minimum, along with the benefits of retaining nutrients and freshness of the product over a longer period than fresh.”

What are the latest trends in the frozen food market?

With consumers demanding high quality food, served quickly, businesses operating in the frozen food sector are continuously looking for innovative ways to ensure their products match fresh ingredients.

Mohammed said: “Consumer demand is constantly changing and there is a huge desire for variety and innovation – it’s key to attracting new customers and keep existing customers coming back for more.

“This doesn’t mean, however, that menu development needs to be taxing. By offering frozen options, Aviko takes the hassle and prep time out of potato specialities while helping operators meet the demand for innovation, offer a real point of difference and command a premium price point. By making a few small changes to your sides, which is easy and cost effective to do with frozen options, your offering can have great stand out, at minimal cost, time and time again.

“We realise that innovation is the key to success and this is reflected in our product range, helping operators get ahead of the competition and leaving time to focus on other areas of the menu.”

Nigel added: “Frozen products offer convenience and help to improve the speed and ease of service.

“For these reasons, more food-to-go and QSR operators are choosing not to cook raw ingredients and are buying frozen ingredients instead.

“Meadow Vale’s cooked chicken breast strips are a perfect example of a product being used a lot in the frozen foods sector. The strips are ready prepared, easy to reheat from frozen and can be served in a multitude of recipes as part of a free flow format, avoiding waste or additional preparation time.”

Sarah Cumber, of Paramount 21, highlighted the growing importance of the free-from market to businesses operating in the frozen food sector.

She said: “The appetite for free-from shows no sign of slowing down - consumers are continuing to seek out gluten-free and vegetarian products and manufacturers are responding in both foodservice and retail, frozen and chilled.

“As manufacturers of frozen vegetarian and seafood products, gluten-free is a key NPD consideration. By being adaptable we’re able to reach a wider market and help our customers offer free-from and non-free-from menu choices.

“It is not without its challenges though. By its very nature free-from means that manufacturers need to work hard to ensure the product delivers on taste, commercials and be visually appealing as well as ticking the free-from box.”

Richard pointed out that more gourmet frozen food products, with flavours from around the world, were being used at present.

He said: “In line with consumers’ growing interest in premium quality products, greater awareness of nutritional benefits and a desire for variety and authenticity, the frozen, pre-prepared food sector has experienced good performance sales and has increased in strength year on year. 

“The introduction of more luxurious options has been a success as the trends in world foods are being met through authentic gourmet products that operators may otherwise find difficult to re-create themselves.”

Brian agreed that businesses in the frozen food industry were embracing flavours from around the world as they expanded the products on offer to food service operators.

He said: “In recent years there has been an expansion of the frozen food products made available to the foodservice sector, which has made it easier for operators to meet changing demands.

“Products such as shredded roasted aromatic duck, tangy BBQ chicken wings and slow-cooked pulled pork ribs can all be bought from frozen and used to premiumise and add value to dishes, helping caterers to increase profits.

“By opting to source frozen food ingredients, chefs and caterers can have confidence that they are offering high quality, flavoursome food while ensuring food waste is kept to a minimum, menu choice is greater for diners and preparation time is reduced.”

Tony added: “In terms of trends, we are continuing to see strong growth in ethnic flavours, particularly South American and Mexican. For example we recently extended our Mexican range with the launch of our Nacho Cheese Bites and these have been particularly well received in the marketplace.”

What does the future hold for frozen foods in terms of product development for foodservice clients?

With consumers demanding high quality food, served quickly, businesses operating in the frozen food sector are continuously looking for innovative ways to ensure their products match fresh ingredients.

Nigel said: “With the focus in the food-to-go/QSR sector continually shifting towards convenience and increasing the speed of service, more operators are looking for frozen food solutions.

“Homestyle by Meadow Vale Foods could be seen as that solution for the QSR market, with the introduction of an innovative textured coating, spanning across seven hand-cut, hand-coated products. These new products stay hotter for longer and remain succulent under hot-lamps, making them ideal for food-to-go and QSR outlets.”

Emphasising the need for continued innovation in frozen food, Brian said: “As the popularity of frozen continues to grow, innovation in frozen products continues to expand and frozen food manufacturers are continually looking to tap into the latest consumer trends and create new products to help caterers provide menus that will appeal to a wide range of consumers.

“As the demand for frozen food continues to grow, the appreciation from caterers, chefs and diners is becoming greater, helping to drive sales.

“As these sales increase, higher quality, innovative frozen food products will become more readily available making it even easier for food outlets to embrace frozen.

“Investment into new products will lead to better, more varied menus and will also help caterers and chefs to benefit from all the positives that frozen can offer.”

Tony added: “Competition and margins are pressures felt by all businesses in the sector and therefore those who can stay ahead of the curve in terms of menu development and process efficiencies are sure to do well. Frozen food is the ideal route to deliver this.”

Looking at freezer equipment, what is available to the industry to keep frozen food products in premium condition?

Nick Williams, Managing Director of Precision Refrigeration, which supplies refrigeration for commercial environments, added: “The latest version of Precision’s Variable Temperature Drawer is suitable for any professional kitchen that wants a flexible space-saving storage option. This individual drawer can act as a freezer but also gives the added flexibility that it can be switched to a refrigerator if required.

“The flexibility of the unit is further enhanced by a variety of options, including a worktop and the ability to stack units.  The optional heat resistant worktop allows operators to put cooking appliances on top of the drawer.”

What significance should businesses put on energy efficiency when choosing freezer equipment?

Nick said: “As refrigeration operates 24/7 energy saving features are essential to cut operating costs.”
“The VUBC121 is the first Precision individual drawer to launch since the introduction of the Ecodesign and Energy Labelling Directives and MEPS (Minimum Energy Performance Standard). In independent tests, carried out by RD&T, the drawer scored ‘A’ when operating as a fridge and ‘B’ when being used as a freezer (EN16825 Climate Test Class 4). 

“The VUBC121 has a new airflow design and an upgraded refrigeration system that enhance temperature control while delivering excellent energy efficiency. 

“The thickness of insulation on the top of the drawer has been increased, helping to reduce running costs even further.”

Food-to-go and quick service restaurant customers are looking for a quick, convenient meal, particularly during the busy lunchtime period.
Using frozen products instead of fresh ingredients provides greater flexibility for foodservice operators.

Frozen foods are simple to prepare and allow for a consistency in quality.

Foodservice operators are also able to control portion size easier using frozen products, which in turn helps their margins.
Being able to store food effectively also allows operators to reduce wastage, again saving money.

Alongside these benefits, the number of frozen product options on the market have also grown massively, with producers creating ingredients and dishes from across the globe.

However, the main reason for the growth in confidence in in this sector is the quality.

From meat and veg, to fish and bakery products, the frozen food on offer at present is most definitely on a par with fresh ingredients.

With innovative products that stay hotter for longer and meat and fish dishes that are succulent and have crisp and tasty coatings, it is impossible to tell them apart from the fresh option.

Due to the continued effort to create quality products, the confidence in frozen food will only grow.

Tuesday, 1st November, 2016
Meet guests' expectations with Fairy All in One Capsules

Wash away negative reviews in 3 minutes

To meet the expectations of hospitality guests (97% of who feel cleanliness is the most important factor when choosing a restaurant, café, bar or a hotel*) P&G Professional created Fairy All in One Capsules.

The new product helps the industry provide an impeccable clean in three minutes, ensuring dishes and glasses are always up to the highest standard, leaving no room for negative reviews.

Whether you are preparing for a busy event or that unexpected rush of patrons, short dishwasher cycles are best for businesses as they allow for a fast turnover of dishes and glasses.

Fairy All in One Capsules’ superior formula ensures no residue is left behind, whatever the cycle, meaning there’s no need to pre-rinse and rewash, allowing for the most optimised operations process. It also means capsules can be used in short dishwasher cycles, saving money on energy and bills.

What’s more, Fairy All in One Capsules are also phosphate-free, ensuring reduced environmental footprint with no trade- offs, leaving no room to negative reviews.

Commenting on Fairy All in One Capsules, Mark Porst, P&G Professional Commercial Director for UK & Ireland, said: “At P&G Professional we understand the true value of clean - guest satisfaction is crucial to online reviews, which in turn impacts business success. That’s why we are committed to helping professionals with products that deliver superior quality with additional benefits, such as faster delivery time and reduced environmental impact.” 

• Tough stains during busy periods are not an issue anymore as Fairy All in One capsules dissolve in three minutes

• Improved formula means no compromise on cleanliness quality

• A quick superior clean is also green, as the dishwasher pouches are phosphate-free

For more information about P&G Professional, please visit https://www.pgpro.co.uk/.

Wednesday, 26th October, 2016
We get the lowdown on award-winning burger outlet

Business Profile - Burger Brothers

Having recently been crowned the winner of the Best Burger in Britain competition, Burger Brothers, in Brighton, is riding on the crest of a wave.

The independently-owned outlet, which has a ‘cult’ following in the South East, was founded by co-owners and best mates Nadz Nwokoro and Pip Ravindra.

The idea for Burger Brothers was born in 2012, when the pair introduced burgers to the yearly street food pop-up they had been holding alongside Brighton Pride since 2009.

The rest, as they say, is history and this summer Burger Brothers beat five other finalists to scoop the Hellmann’s-sponsored Britain’s Best Burger title.

We spoke to Nadz, who is also head chef, to find out about the secret to the burger joint’s success.

What is the ethos of the business?

“Our slogan is effectively our ethos, ‘gourmet to go’. Our aim was always to produce food good enough to serve to our families, friends, and even our mums.

“This set the bar pretty high. Anyone who has met our mothers can testify to that.

“Due to our lack of professional catering experience we had to learn a lot of processes from scratch and invent some others.

“That said, I believe our fresh approach to what is truly a takeaway service goes a long way to setting us apart from other businesses.”

How strong do you feel the food-to-go/quick service restaurant market is at the moment?

“The food-to-go market will always be strong in general. We live in a fast-paced society and the need for quick food on the go shows no sign of slowing.

“The main trend in the last 15 to 20 years has been a growing awareness and heightened understanding around quality of produce, care in preparation and the bespoke side of service.

“People have a stronger sense of individuality and rightly expect to be treated as such. For these reasons you see the larger fast food chains diversifying their menus and adding healthier options.

“Our customers recognise the quality of our produce because it is transparent and undeniable.

“I feel a proportion of takeaway chains and independents who do not move with this trend may begin feeling the pinch with less pounds in the average pocket.”
What are the latest food trends in the burger market?

“Food trends within burgers depend largely what’s on your menu.

“Ours, while being small, is pretty diverse. Therefore, I can say there is a growing trend, in our sales at least, for gluten free options and vegetarian/vegan options.

“However, this could be put attributed to a growing awareness among these demographics that we cater to their requirements.”
How would you describe your menu?

“Our menu is small, yet diverse. Freshness is of the upmost importance to what we do and therefore we chose to keep things as simple as possible, while giving the customers sufficient variety to feel the need to return.

“We have four patties, chicken, veggie, beef (all of which we make on site ourselves, from scratch) and halloumi.

“Our menu has seven burgers, four beef burgers, a chicken, a veggie and a halloumi burger.

“However, all the patties are interchangeable with all the burgers. This means nobody feels their options are reduced due to their dietary needs. This is very important to us.”

What is the most popular item on the menu?

“Our most popular burger is the Classic Beef. This consists of cracked black pepper mayo, wild rocket, baby plum tomatoes, mature cheddar cheese, American mustard, relish, caramelised onions, and of course our 6oz Brothers beef patty.” 

What sets you aside from other similar businesses?

“What sets us aside from other similar businesses is, that I don’t believe I know of any. The quality and freshness of our food in conjunction with a friendly and speedy service is rare to say the least.

“We cut no corners. We do one thing, and aim to do it as well as possible.

“We believe our burgers are comparable with any served in a seated restaurant.

“As a small business the aspirations of the owners will rub off on the staff and trickle down to the customers. We aspire for great and healthy things. Simply put, we genuinely care about the customer experience on a personal level. It is our contract with them to do so.”

What are your plans moving forward?

“Future plans are open. We are still learning a lot season to season and this can only pay dividends.

“Whatever happens, the quality must be maintained. Sell up? Maybe. Sell out? Never.”

Burger Brothers is based on North Road, Brighton. Search burgerbrothersbrighton on Facebook, or follow @BurgerBrethren on Twitter.

Monday, 3rd October, 2016
Find out how you can tempt customers to spend a little extra

Small plates and side orders

Small plates and side orders are important components of any menu. We find out how offering the right products at the right price can tempt customers to spend that little bit extra.

Providing customers with a tempting choice of small plates and side orders is vital for businesses looking to achieve add-on sales.

Offering tempting and affordable small portions that won’t ruin appetites is a great way to entice customers to spend a little extra cash.   

With this in mind, we discover what products you should include on your menu and the best ways to encourage diners to add a small plate or side order to their meal.

Industry voices: Mohammed Essa, General Manager UK and Ireland, Aviko; Tim Page, Commercial Director, Innovate Foods; Craig Dillon, Head of Foodservice, Tilda; Nigel O’Donnell, Managing Director, Meadow Vale Foods, and Glenn Evans, Head of Food Development, Las Iguanas.

What role do small plates and side orders play in the food-to-go/QSR industry?

Tim Page, from Innovate foods, which offers menu solutions for foodservice operators, said: “Small plates and side orders are a vital element of a successful food-to-go/QSR business.

“They are not only important ‘up-sell’ products, helping outlets increase their average sales values, they help address the tastes and appetites of multi-people parties (i.e. some people in a group of diners who are less hungry and not wanting to opt for a main meal option).”

Nigel O’Donnell, of Meadow Vale Foods, which supplies poultry products to foodservice businesses, added: “Starters, small plates and sides are becoming increasingly popular in the food-to-go/QSR industry as consumers gravitate towards more affordable and healthier options, allowing them to experiment with new flavours and enhance their dining experience.”

Pointing out the potential of small plates and side orders in feeding the demand for hot snacks, Mohammed Essa, of potato product producer, Aviko, said: “Consumer demand has shifted from traditional sit-down meal times to more casual all-day dining which means small plates for snacking or sharing platters are key for boosting sales – they’re functional, fun and perfect for large groups.

“Personalisation is also hugely important to consumers – 90 per cent of people would like the opportunity to customise their breakfast for example – so offering a range of side orders for customers to choose from allows operators to meet this demand and add value to any menu.

“The good news for QSR operators is that offering a range of small plates or side orders is simple to do. Quality pre-cooked products that are quick and easy to prepare can help operators profit from hungry customers, and keep the tills ringing.

“Aviko’s range of fries and hand-held appetisers, for example, are easy to cook – their ease of preparation means they do not require skilled staff to prepare them – and offer the added benefits of nil wastage and perfect portion control. Plus, they allow operators to easily cater for vegetarian and gluten-free diets.”

Craig Dillion, of rice brand Tilda, added:  “Small plates and side orders can help operators generate incremental sales without too much additional time and effort in the kitchen.

“Small plates in particular also enable outlets to cater for changing consumer behaviour because more people are choosing to eat casually rather than opting for traditional sit-down dining.”

Glenn Evans, of Latin American restaurant chain Las Iguanas, said: “Small plates are seemed as more flexible as they can fill a variety of needs throughout the day. Vendors can offer them as a side, snack, tapas or mezze selections anytime of the day to fulfil the consumers’ snack cravings and as an alternative offer throughout the peak trading times.

“Sharing has also been quite prevalent, so whether it’s grab and go or a full sit down restaurant, groups of consumers have the opportunity to pick and choose from a selection of small plates and side orders while creating a more fun and interactive dining experience.”

What is behind the rise in popularity of small plates and side orders?

Glenn said: “Consumers now have more variety and can almost customise their snacking occasion, or just bolt on to their main choice.

“Vendors are also more savvy with their deals in terms of a discounted multi-buy option and consumers feel they are getting more choice and variety at better value for their money.

“Healthfulness is key too, as the ever-demanding healthier consumer looking for a lighter option will be tempted by a smaller portion.”

Nigel pointed out the fact that small plates and side orders allowed diners the opportunity to try new foods and flavours. He said: “Appetizers and small plates are uniquely positioned to allow low-risk/low-cost experimentation.

“People have become more adventurous when trying different foods and this trend is being capitalised on by multiple foodservice outlets who now offer multiple side orders.”

Tim agreed. He said: “Consumers have a much wider appetite for diverse flavours – driven largely by overseas travel. The UK has moved significantly in terms of its eating out habits, nearer to a continental style eating at different times of the day, this has encouraged consumers to opt for smaller portions.” 

What are the latest trends in terms of small plate and side order dishes?

Nigel said: “In terms of small plate and side order dishes the latest trends vary from roasted vegetables, black rice to chicken wings. Small plates and side orders originally offered a vegetable-based alternative or accompaniment to the main meal, yet nowadays side orders can be seen to take centre stage exploring the tastes main meals often can be seen to refrain from.

“Meadow Vale Foods has a unique range of chicken wings perfect for small plates and side dishes, especially the new recipe Crispy Hot Wings. The wings are encased in a special Meadow Vale breadcrumb and a blend of hot spices, they offer a subtle bit of heat and are perfect when looking to achieve add on sales.”

Mohammed said: “According to research, consumers are looking for added heat on menus – 56% of people want to see more spicy options out-of-home, and 44% are willing to pay more for them.

“Our new Piri Piri Wedges – skin-on jacket potato wedges feature a generous sprinkling of piri piri seasoning – are the perfect side to help operators make the most of this demand.

“Ready from frozen in as little as three minutes, the new Piri Piri Wedges offer a speedy option to enhance a whole host of main meals without putting any additional strain on already busy kitchens.

“As well as a side order, they also work well as part of a sharing platter, a bar snack or a takeaway option, giving operators scope to add a spicy kick to the entire menu.

“Alternatively, Aviko’s Chilli Cheddar Nuggets will help operators offer a side with heat. They have an irregular shape for a homemade-style appeal, and combine a crunchy coating with a creamy, rich cheddar cheese centre that delivers a spicy jalapeño kick.

“Dedicated to foodservice and one of the biggest potato processors in the world, Aviko offers a range of chilled and frozen potato specialities made by chefs, for chefs from morning favourites such as Hash Browns and innovative Hash Brown Bites, through to Premium Fries, Mash and much more.”

Highlighting current popular flavours, Glenn pointed out that the recent interest in the Rio Olympics had inspired diners to sample Brazilian-style side orders and small plates.

He said: “What with the Rio Olympics just been and gone, there has been a lot of Brazilian influence on the high street.

“Popular Brazilian snacks have been converted into small plates including pao de queijo (cheese dough balls), coxhinha, (pear shaped chicken croquettes), Dadinhos (Fried cheese cubes), bolinhos (spherical croquettes in various flavours) or empanada/pastei (a filled pastry).

“Las Iguanas have introduced all of these and they have been very popular as a starter, part of a tapas selection or just an additional side.”

Tim added: “Street food has been a growing category over the last couple of years and we have seen some really successful concepts bringing a much wider spectrum of flavours to the marketplace. 

“One category that continues to fare well is Mexican – we continue to see strong growth in this category within our portfolio having recently launched Nacho cheese bites.”

However, Craig suggested that businesses should be doing more to temp health-conscious diners.

He said: “Our consumer research shows that caterers are missing out on demand for side dishes because they are failing to offer customers healthier options – almost seven in ten consumers would consider ordering a side if a healthier menu choice, such as rice was offered. In addition, 85% said they would like to see rice available as a healthy option on a children’s menu.

“These results are also supported by the recent predictions from MCA’s Food and Drink Report where ‘healthier eating’ has been tipped by industry leaders to be one of the fastest growing cuisines over the next three to five years, while industry chefs agreed ‘healthy eating’ is likely to increase in popularity over the next two to three years.

“Tilda’s consumer research also indicated that operators looking to serve something different should consider something a bit more exotic. The research showed that 76% of respondents would like to see a flavoured rice, such as Mexican or pilau on a menu and that 54% of people would be prepared to pay more for it. This demonstrates the real opportunity that is out there for outlets to increase their GP by simply adding Tilda rice to their menus.”

What is the best way for food-to-go and quick service restaurants to encourage add-on sales through small plate and side order dishes?

Nigel said: “The best way to encourage add-on sales is definitely price promotion and potential meal deals. Pricing small plates and side orders cheaper will always tempt customers into buying them alongside a main meal.

“In addition, high quality point of sale material is always a good way of increasing sales. Stand-out adverts will always draw more customers, creating more opportunities for impulse buying.”

Glenn agreed that price promotion helped to encourage add-on sales. He said: “We place our small plates in a tapas and starter section, these are priced individually (average small plate rice is £5.50) or at certain times you can group them three for £14.95 or five for £24.95. I would say this is the best option, meaning the consumer feels that they are getting variety, while saving money at the same time.”

Tim added: “Never has the consumer had such choice of where to eat out. Therefore menu innovation and featured new products is critical for long term success, and will help keep consumers interested in the outlet and the brand.”

What does the future hold in terms of side plate and side order dishes?

Tim said: “The future is bright for sides and small plates. As a category it has secured its rightful position on the menu and will continue to go from strength to strength. Success will, however, be greatly assisted through a culture of innovation and new product development.”

Craig added: “The trend for healthy eating will continue to grow, with industry chefs and the MCA tipping ‘healthier eating’ as a popular and fast growing cuisine.”

Glenn said: “Small plates and side orders will always be available, as restaurants will use them as good opportunities to sell as additions for main meal occasions, or just to compliment small plates when groups are ordering a selection to share.”

Nigel was confident that the demand for small plates and side orders will only grow in popularity. He said: “The small plates and side orders market will continue to grow as consumers become more exposed to a wide range of options alongside their main meals.

“Consumers have also become more adventurous with new foods, and more and more foodservice businesses are experimenting with new flavours and menu ideas. With this in mind, small plates and side orders are a perfect platform to try out new flavours.”

In conclusion, it pays for outlets to offer a varied selection of small plates and side orders which can entice add-on sales.

It seems that businesses need to consider providing healthy options, as well as thinking about how they promote deals to tempt every type of customers to spend that extra bit of cash.

Thursday, 29th September, 2016
We find out about the latest developments in online ordering

Online ordering

The online ordering market is growing year-on-year, with more and more foodservice businesses looking to take advantage of technology. But what is driving outlets to embrace the wonders of the web?

Offering customers the opportunity to order online is becoming increasing important for businesses operating in the food-to-go/quick service restaurant sector.

With people living increasingly busy lives, the demand for a food wherever and whenever is huge.

With this in mind, we aim to find out what benefits online ordering can bring to your business and uncover the latest developments in this sector.

Industry voices: Steven Rolfe, Managing Director, pointOne EPoS; Salar Eftekhary, Sales and Marketing Director, Brand A Way; Geoffrey Whittle, Member, Integer Computers LLP; Peter Scovell, Head of Marketing, ICRTouch; Damian Guy, Managing Director, Appaway; Andrew Prince, Owner, OrdaMia, and Brynley Price, Technology Director, MOD Pizza UK.

Why is online ordering essential for any food-to-go/QSR business?

As lifestyles continue to chance, fewer meals are being cooked at home as people look to fit a quick meal into their busy schedule.
By offering online ordering, food-to-go/quick service restaurants can cater for this.

Andrew Prince, from OrdaMia, a click, collect and pay ahead app, said: “Today’s world is all about convenience, customer service and immediate availability,

“People have less time, but want to do more. By offering online ordering it allows for greater flexibility for merchants and customers alike.

“From one cup of coffee, to a full blown meal with wine, there are no restrictions by value, type or quantity. It is about customer choice.

“We have found that customers’ lunch breaks, in particular, are shorter that the traditional one hour and wasting time in a queue is the last thing people want to do.”

Steven Rolfe, of pointOne Epos, which develops and builds EPoS systems, agreed that online ordering provided the perfect solution to save people wasting time during busy schedules.

He said: “Today’s customers are time short and with diminishing lunch times they need to order and collect as fast possible.

“Offering an online ordering ‘click and collect’ service to customers is a key way to enhance the customer experience and attract and retain business. 

“Online Ordering also enables customers to order days in advance, which improves convenience for them and streamlines their business so they can manage and process future orders easier.

Peter Scovell, from EPoS software Provider ICRTouch, said: “For any food-to-go/QSR business to compete within a busy marketplace, online ordering is an essential part of the business model.

“With the surge of smartphone usage, online ordering platforms such as TouchTakeaway can provide not just an additional revenue stream, but also allows access to a wider customer base.

“Domino’s Pizza exemplified the trend by reporting a 21% rise in sales for the summer of 2015, to £200m, with 75% of orders placed online and 61% of those made with mobile devices.

“Ordering online makes the process of finding fast-food simple and easy. It also provides the customer with additional browsing time so they can visually browse at their leisure and take in the entire menu in full.

“Businesses can also reduce staff overheads, as with TouchTakeaway there is no answering phones so staff can concentrate on the customers in the shop while online orders are processed through the TouchPoint till automatically. Online ordering also reduces queuing, as well as time spent with each customer and achieves a much better customer satisfaction. Not only all this, but gains in revenue will allow the business to offer discounts for online customers to keep them coming back or to entice new customers.”

Salar Eftekhary, from Brand A Way, which puts brands in the palms of customers by providing computer, smartphone or tablet ordering options, agreed on the importance of online ordering. He said: “Ordering food online is big business. The world’s leading takeaway ordering service, Just Eat, first launched in Denmark in 2001. Since then, it has grown to operate in 13 countries and with a staggering annual revenue of nearly £250m.

“Their website and app have around 1.6million registered users regularly ordering food online.

“If there is one thing, these figures tell us, it’s that food businesses can no longer ignore the mobile and online marketplace. Online food ordering is massive business.”

Geoffrey Whittle, of software and hardware solution provider Integer, said: “Figures show that home delivery is increasing year on year and that the percentage of those home delivery orders that are made online is also increasing year on year. 

“The way that we live our lives has changed and will continue to change. Fewer meals are being prepared in homes and a generation that has grown up using smart phones online now has disposable income. The volume of home-delivered food and the percentage of orders placed online will only continue to increase.”

Damian Guy, of online ordering platform Appaway, said: “Online and, in particular, mobile ordering has changed the face of the food-to-go market.  Customers are taking to their mobile devices in droves to experience the benefits of being able to order their food on-the-move whenever, wherever they are for maximum convenience.

“Of all the orders received by takeaways who use our service a whopping 96% come via mobile apps rather than websites.

“What businesses are starting to realise about mobile ordering is that as well as providing ultimate convenience for their customers it also allows them to build a direct relationship and know their customers better than ever before.”

One business taking advantage of online ordering is MOD Pizza.

Brynley Price, MOD Pizza Technology Director, said: “We have entered an ‘on demand’ era where customers now expect to be able to use their own devices to order any service they want, when they wish, rather than having to wait.

“For quick service restaurants, customers are now nearly all ‘digital customers’ who will discover a brand, explore the menu, find the location and read restaurant reviews online. 

“At MOD we see each of these interactions as an opportunity to engage with potential customers and offer the convenience of ordering from their closest restaurant, with the order hot and ready to collect when they wish.”

What service providers are there in the market and what do they offer by way of support for businesses?

Salar said: “There are mainly two options out there – directory-based online ordering service providers such as Just Eat and Hungry House, where every restaurant is hosted on one platform vs. service providers such as Brand A Way, who build individual mobile apps and websites made specifically for each restaurant.

“You can expect a much more personal service from Brand A Way, as we can work to your requirements and ensure that your online ordering platform truly reflects your branding and company image.

“Most importantly of all, Brand A Way helps your business save money on commission fees by providing a completely commission-free online ordering solution, regardless of how many orders you receive.”

Brynley added: “Order aggregator’s such as Just Eat, Hungry house, Deliveroo, and recently Uber Eat provide the opportunity to reach large potential customer bases within the service providers branded portal.

“Alternatively B2B services provide a bespoke digital ordering journey within your own website, which can also be released as a mobile app.

“For MOD this provides end to end control over the customer’s experience and allows opportunity to improve the design, as we gain insight from our customer’s feedback.”

Peter said: “The reliability of your online ordering platform is a key ingredient to customer satisfaction. Each TouchTakeaway site by ICRTouch is crafted by a professional web developer and is backed by a nationwide partner network that is able to provide on-site support for your entire EPoS system.”

Damian advised: “There are a number of mobile ordering solutions for takeaways in the market and we believe it’s important that you research and choose the right solution for you. 

“Just Eat and Hungry House are the most well-known mobile ordering providers.  The benefit of these brands is that they have enormous marketing clout and drive consumer demand in the takeaway market and are perfect for businesses who want to ensure that they come to the attention of potential new customers in their local area. 

“However, with at least 70% of online and mobile orders coming from regular customers, the need to drive these customers to an alternative ordering mechanism free of commission fees is obvious.  This is an area that has seen enormous growth over the past 12 months with more and more takeaways launching their own direct ordering apps and websites.

“Appaway was created two years ago with the aim of providing a white-label solution for businesses wanting their own ordering solution but not wanting to invest heavily or lose the ease of operation that the aggregation websites provide. The thousands of takeaways they now have using their service demonstrates they must have hit the right note.”

Highlighting Integer’s offering, Geoffrey said: “Integer have been around since 1986.  Their inTouch software and systems are specifically for home delivery, takeaway and table service with integrated online ordering and text messaging. All systems supplied include 12 months support and customers have access to an emergency helpline in the evening and at weekends.”

Steven said: “As an EPoS solution supplier to the QSR industry our own suite of products includes online ordering technology to enable restaurants to integrate this service into their wider PoS set-up. 

“Our solutions include browser-based ordering, iphone & Android Apps and in-store order points such as kiosks. For operators that choose to offer a ‘click and deliver’ service, then adopting a driver management solution would also be useful to manage deliveries to the customer.”

What equipment do you need to have to ensure your online ordering system is effective?

Salar said: “The best part of it all is that you don’t need any substantial new equipment to get your business off the ground in the world of online ordering.

“With Brand A Way, all of your orders will go through to your business dashboard which can be accessed with any PC, phone or tablet device, or if you prefer, you can choose to receive and print out the orders directly on a Plug ’n’ Play GPRS printer so you can focus on providing delicious foods and a great service to your customers.”

Damian said: “Appaway was created with two main goals, to remove the commission model from online and mobile ordering so that takeaways aren’t penalised for lots of orders from regular customers and to make the system as simple, low tech and accessible as possible.

“What this means in reality is that for a takeaway that wants to have their own branded online ordering solution, they can test the water for next to no cost and with no more equipment than a mobile telephone (it doesn’t even have to be a smartphone!).”

Brynley added: “There are typically two flavours of digital ordering service, POS integrated or standalone tablet services. 

“Where POS integration has been undertaken, paid for orders are pushed to the POS to be fulfilled as a single channel alongside in store orders.

“This minimises disruption to the in store operation, consolidates transactions from all channels for reporting and supports kitchen capacity management.

“Where a standalone option is deployed, a tablet is typically used instore to access the cloud based system, enabling individual restaurants to update their online menu in real time and manage order lead times based on the capacity of the kitchen.”

With regards to EPoS systems, Steven said: “Your EPoS solution provider needs to have a platform that can integrate real time online ordering technology.

“Whether this is in the form of a web page, an app or an in-house order point/kiosk it needs to fully integrate with the EPoS.

“As its web based no physical hardware is required, other than your EPoS set-up, however, if you are going to provide an online ordering service to your customers then you should also consider that they will expect to be able to order online via an iphone or Android App.

“Before you embark on offering a pre-ordering ‘click & collect’ service, you also need to consider how this will be managed operationally in store. 

“How will you receive the order at store? Options include a dedicated printer or a kitchen management touch screen to manage orders and view details of the order clearly.
“Also consider that if the volume increases then you will need a dedicated ‘collection point’ for customers to complete the ‘click & collect’ experience.”

Geoffrey added: “A touch screen EPoS system on your counter should provide you with caller recognition when your customers call, postcode lookup to add new customers quickly and accurately, clear and professional receipt printing for the kitchen staff, the driver and the customer, driver management with map display, analysis of the business strengths and weaknesses plus targeted customer marketing, ideally with integrated text messaging.” 

Andrew said: “We have tried to keep everything as easy and user friendly as possible. Kitchens and café work spaces are busy and at times counter space is limited so we have developed systems to work on all smartphones, tablets or mini POS systems.”

If you don’t currently offer online ordering, how do you start?

Brynley said: “The first step to successfully deploying digital ordering is to ensure the instore model is operationally ready to avoid disruption to the existing instore activities or disappointing customers.

“Digital orders need to be received with sufficient detail with all of the customisation of in-store orders to be prepared without further clarification from the customer.

“Orders need to be prepared just in time for customer collection at the requested time and packaged for off premise consumption where needed.

“The customers and in store teams need to have the confidence that orders placed on line are 100% accurate and correctly charged every time and will quickly share their feedback through social channels either positively or negatively. 

“Our objective was to provide our customers with the unique MOD Pizza superfast ordering experience in a way which was immediately intuitive to use, visually beautiful and seamlessly fitting into our in store operation.

“We wanted to consider mobile users especially in the design as they interact with a very small screen, have limited time and are usually on the move.

“When choosing who should support the deployment, we looked for a partner who could provide us with the depth of technical experience to understand our unique in store operating environment and design a solution which would scale as we opened more locations.” 

Salar added: “Getting started has never been easier. At Brand A Way we have a team of experts that will get you up and running with your own online ordering website and mobile app within just three weeks – starting at a flat rate of just £15.00 per week.

“When you sign up with Brand A Way, you will receive your own professionally designed and fully branded online ordering system, a newly developed and user-friendly business dashboard to receive orders and update content as you wish, a fully integrated card processing service connected to your own bank account, a range of effective marketing materials to let people know about your new system, an optional Plug ‘n’ Play GPRS printer, and a team of experts to guide you through every step of the way in getting up and running.”

“Our in-house designers will incorporate your existing logo and branding or create one from scratch if you don’t currently have one.”

Steven said: “Seek out an EPoS provider that offers this and other web based ordering technologies that are fully integrated with an Enterprise level EPoS system designed specifically for the QSR space.”

Andrew added: “A merchant can start in more than one way. They can add an online ordering service to the website or use the expertise of local and national marketplace brands like, Just Eat, Hungry House, Dinner2Go or OrdaMia, which are quick, ready to go options that can be up and running within a few days.”

Geoffrey said: “If you already have one of Integer’s inTouch EPoS systems, you just need to arrange for broadband at your restaurant, register a domain name and you can have an online presence and be taking orders within a couple of days.”

Damian’s response to how a business should get started with online ordering couldn’t be clearer. “Give Appaway a call,” he said. “The team have worked so hard over the past two years to make the process unbelievably simple to the point where all we need now is for a takeaway to send us a copy of their menu and within three weeks they will have a fully functioning native mobile app and website ready to receive orders.”

“And the thing about Appaway is that it’s not really about the technology. The key elements that have seen the system successfully introduced into so many takeaways in such a short space of time are the round-the-clock customer support team who are happy to make any updates or answer any questions, meaning that takeaway owners don’t need any technical knowhow whatsoever; and the proven promotional techniques and materials that are proved to all takeaways to get regular customers ordering via the app almost instantly.”

What future developments can we expect in regards to online ordering?

With online technology advancing at an astounding rate, the possibilities for food-to-go and quick service restaurants are endless.

Damian said: “The future is very bright for takeaways that introduce their own ordering solution.
“It’s hard to see what direct innovation will take, but at Appaway we are currently exploring how to add value for our takeaways and their customers in a number of areas including delivery, payments, advanced customer engagement and how orders are received within the shop.  We expect to bring some of our innovation to the market in early 2017”.

Andrew said: “From simple favourites, to real time offers with diet and allergen preference settings, the future for online ordering is very positive.”
Brynley added: “Customers will continue to demand a faster and more convenient service for ordering their favourite foods.

“While we see major players entering the food delivery market such as Amazon and Uber Eat, the opportunities for independent restaurant brands will continue to grow. The key to success is to treat both instore and digital customers as individuals and provide a product and ordering experience that is unique to them.”

Highlighting one recent development, Steven said: “Just recently the launch of customer-facing cashless kiosks rounds off online ordering by extending click and collect to an in-store option and is already proving very popular with customers. This is still relatively new to the market but many QSR operators on the high street will have this on their radar.”

Salar said: “Industry experts tend to agree that online orders are expected to surpass offline orders sometime within the next decade. Reports show that by 2020, you may be at risk of losing up to 50 per cent business if you are not online ready.

“At Brand A Way, we look forward to seeing what the future holds for this market as we continue to develop and innovate new ways of making online ordering for food businesses more integrated with people’s everyday lives.”

With this in mind, it seems that if you haven’t incorporated online ordering into your business, you will have already fallen behind the competition.
As consumers demand food at a time and a place to suit them, food-to-go and quick service restaurants must ensure they can take orders digitally and meet their customers’ demands for convenience. 

Thursday, 29th September, 2016
We find out how you can make your food stand out from the crowd

Sauces, rubs and marinades

Sauces, rubs and marinades play a very important role in adding extra flavour to dishes. We take a look at the current products that are tickling diners’ taste buds.

When it comes to sauces, rubs and marinades, there are a whole host of flavours on the market, with more arriving all the time.

To gain a better understanding of the market and to find out what the latest trends and innovations are, we spoke to some of the leading experts in the industry.

Industry voices: Brian Yip, Director, Wing Yip; Leon Mills, KNORR Marketing Manager for Unilever Food Solutions; Sam Higgins, Senior Brand Manager, RH Amar; Jeremy Pang, Executive Development Chef, Cha Chaan Teng, and Nick Thomas, Sales and Marketing Director, Empire Bespoke Foods.

What role do sauces, rubs and marinades play in the food-to-go/QSR industry?

Without doubt sauces, rubs and marinades play a massive role in adding flavour to products and dishes, a fact that our industry expects were very keen to highlight.

“Sauces, rubs and marinades play a huge role in the food-to-go/QSR industry,” said Jeremy Pang, from Hong Kong-café inspired restaurant Cha Chaan Teng, in Holborn. “For all these types of restaurants, the marinades and rubs impart the core flavour into whatever you are cooking, and the sauces are what finish a dish in a completely unique way.

“Take a burger in a bap for example, if you have five rubs, five marinades and five totally different sauces, you have a whole host of flavour combinations.”

Brian Yip, of Oriental grocer Wing Yip, added: “Ready-made sauces and marinades give chefs an easy way to enhance the flavour of a meal in a matter of minutes.

Sam Higgins, from food importer and distributor RH Amar, agreed. He said: “Sauces, rubs and marinades offer the food-to-go market a quick and easy way to add flavour and premiumise customer offerings.

“They offer outlets a quick way to reproduce authentic flavours for all menu occasions.”

Nick Thomas, from specialist food product distributor Empire Bespoke Foods, said: “World cuisines are booming within the food-to-go and QSR sector due to long distance travel destinations becoming more common, global street food increasingly appearing in British food markets and celebrity chefs helping to expand the multicultural tastes in the UK. Cuisines such as Thai, Malay, Vietnamese and Ethiopian are particularly popular among consumers, especially generation Y and play an important role within the catering industry.”

Leon Mills, from Knorr, agreed with Nick, saying: “UK consumers are now a nation of well-travelled foodies. Which means keeping menus up to date with the latest flavour trends from around the world is critical if operators are to compete with street food’s explosive popularity.”

What are the most popular flavour trends on the market at present?

With so many options it can be a difficult task to choose the best products for your market.

However, it seems that sauces, rubs and marinades with spice and a bit of heat are proving very popular among diners. 

Nick said: “Currently, everything is about BBQ flavours - classic, spicy or smoked - it is practically impossible to find somewhere without a bottle of BBQ sauce on the table.

“The use of truffle oils is also growing in popularity, but the price is usually a barrier to use in cooking.”

Nick also highlighted the growing popularity of Thai Flavours. He said: “Consumers are now looking to experiment with new complex Thai flavours because they have more educated palates due to long distance travel becoming more common.

“Consumers are now becoming more confident in buying Thai cuisine so operators must look to develop their menus to offer dishes with unique flavour profiles that appeal to the modern consumer.

“The current market is full of interesting condiments and sauces, with reinventions or twists on existing products or interesting blends of flavours for new marinades. A store cupboard stocked with classics such as soy or fish sauce, green, red or yellow curry pastes, fish and sweet chilli sauce will ensure that operators are always ready to cook up unique and exciting dishes.”

Leon agreed that there was a growing demand for flavours from around the world. He said: “We’re seeing lots of dishes influenced by Japanese, Korean and South American cuisines, all of which are seeing considerable market growth.”

Jeremy added: “The growth of ‘old world’ style foods with creative modern twists, much like our menu at Cha Chaan Teng, seems to be really popular right now.”

Brain said: “Curries and stir-fries are becoming increasingly mainstream and a staple part of consumers’ basic cooking repertoire. New dishes are entering the market and growing in popularity such as Pad Thai and Ramen.

“Increasingly, we’re making more shelf space for delicacies from around the globe as consumers look to try something new. Korean food, for example, is making particularly positive traction in the foodservice market, while Vietnamese is becoming more mainstream and Asian street food is fast gaining momentum.”

How can businesses in the food-to-go/QSR industry add value to dishes using sauces, rubs and marinades?

Nick said: “Operators want products that grab attention on their counter, especially as there is now a wide variety of world cuisine sauces available.

“By using well-known and trusted brands, independent cafes and QSRs making their own products can reassure their customers that they are offering premium food for any eating occasion throughout the day.

“That being said, in most cases the brand behind the flavour will not be seen and in these cases, it is extremely important for operators to stock products that taste like the real thing and keep customers coming back.”

Leon highlighted the influence of street food on the food-to-go/QSR sector and advised that businesses should look to this style of fare for inspiration. He said: “A sizable 32% of consumers say street food has influenced what they choose to eat elsewhere – which means operators should be thinking about how they can capture that excitement and bring it to their menu.”

Commenting on the use of sauces, rubs and marinades in Chinese dishes, Jeremy said: “Outside of the core techniques of cooking, sauces, rubs and marinades are what make Chinese food what it is and for the QSR industry they are the key to success.”

What equipment is available to allow foodservice businesses to create their own sauces and what advantages does this give them?

Jeremy said:  “Any source of heat is obviously very crucial. In most cuisines, when making a good sauce, some process of reduction is really important. Whether on a wok burner or a hob, induction technology is incredibly useful in a professional kitchen these days as it creates immediate heat. Steam ovens and steaming equipment is also incredibly helpful.”

Nick added: “Herb sprays and BBQ sauce sprays are a great innovation for the foodservice industry, allowing chef to control portion size.

“The spray format makes it so easy for the chef to blend flavours without stocking a lot of different products.”

What flavour trends should we expect to see in 2017?

Jeremy said: “I’m sure we’ll see a growth in the return of almost ‘retro’ foods with a modern uptake. 2017 to me is the time to move away from gourmet burgers and be ready to try something completely new.

“There’s a reason why we have French toast with crispy duck leg and orange maple syrup on the menu at Cha Chaan Teng.”

Nick said that he expects future trends to be inspired by street food dishes from around the world. He said: “BBQ flavours are going to continue growing, with the influence of Asia, Caribbean and smoky flavours also coming through as street food continues to trend and inspire British consumers.”

Leon agreed that we will see a growing demand for flavours from Asia. He said: “Expect to see more flavour influences from Southeast Asia – particularly Vietnam, Thailand and Sri Lanka, as well as more growth from more established world flavour trends like Korea, South America and Japan.”

It’s clear to see that sauces, rubs and marinades play a vital part in the food-to-go/QSR market.

As well as providing diners with a variety of flavours to enjoy, they also benefit businesses.

Not only do they add value to dishes, they also give operators the opportunity to expand their products very easily.

With the right selection of sauces, rubs and marinades to customise dishes, outlets will be able to profit from the variety of flavours they are able to offer customers.

Thursday, 29th September, 2016
Online takeaway service aims to change the face of food ordering

The online takeaway service bringing commission free orders to restaurants

Oh Hey there. We’d like to introduce ourselves. We are HeyMenu, the new online takeaway service created with one focus - to save restaurants from crippling commissions and help them make a load more dough - pardon the pun.

We’re in it for the long haul, to change the face of food ordering for the good of the people. Simply put, we aim to help our partners make a load more profit by charging a tiny monthly cost and no commission! Yup, that’s right, we take absolutely no commission. It doesn’t make a difference if we give you £1,000 or £10,000 of orders per month, you still pay the same, low fixed cost, meaning you’ll keep 100% of your margin.

Partnering with HeyMenu will mean more standout to customers looking for a quality service. And in reaching more and more local customers, our partners will ultimately make bigger profits – happy days! Oh, and did we mention the £4 million launch budget to promote HeyMenu to your consumers?

Also we thought you might like to know that HeyMenu sign up fees are around less than 10% of our largest competitors. There is a signup fee of £249, that includes all your equipment and online set-up. After that there’s just a maximum charge of £15 per week – that’s it! One flat weekly fee and no commission. Your profits are yours to keep.

At HeyMenu we don’t just say it, we can guarantee it: Here’s what we guarantee:

• Our partners will never pay commission on an order we provide.
• Our partners can expect to receive an average of 40 orders a month in their first 3 months. Instant popularity.
• HeyMenu will drive millions of hungry customers to partners’ menus listed on our site. The sweet smell of success.
• Our partners will make the sign-up fee back in the first 180 days, and if for some bizarre reason this doesn’t happen, then we’ll refund the amount in full.

Join us today by visiting our website www.heymenu.com or calling us at 0800 466 1466.


Monday, 19th September, 2016
Is customisation on the cards at McDonald's?

Burger Lad

In the last couple of months, Burger Lad® has experienced two US burger chains with expansion plans in the UK.

Smashburger and Fatburger both offer customers the ability to design and customise their own creations via their respective build-a-burger platforms. Five Guys have also been doing this since launching in 2013 and now have nearly 50 restaurants in the UK.

What it does for the consumer is give them the choice of exactly what bun, meat, salad, sauce and toppings they want.

The possible combinations are virtually endless and it means the customer pays for a specification they have built, instead of having to hold or remove ingredients they don’t enjoy. People must be enjoying this level of freedom as Five Guys were recently named the UK’s most popular fast food chain.

This is certainly a move away from the traditional fixed menu at longer established high street brands such as McDonald’s, Burger King and KFC. So what does this mean for them?

If you haven’t heard of it, Create Your Taste is the name given to McDonald’s build-your-own burger platform in countries including USA, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Singapore, China, Hong Kong and Poland. It’s also currently being rolled out in selected stores in Austria and Thailand under the My Burger branding.

Create Your Taste has recently hit the headlines for the wrong reasons. People were creating and naming their burgers on the unmoderated New Zealand website, giving burgers names I am not going to reveal in this article.

So, what is Create Your Taste?

Basically, customers can choose from a variety of buns, cheeses, (sometimes) patties (i.e. beef/chicken/veggie), salads, toppings and sauces from a list of well-known McDonald’s ingredients and, in Australia, some not so well known ones too, such as Brie, Shaved Parmesan, Spinach and Sliced Beetroot.

Customers ‘create their taste’ via the touch screen ordering kiosks and the burgers are made fresh to order before being brought out to the customer waiting at their table.

What’s this? Touch screen ordering and table service? Isn’t that what more and more UK McDonald’s are implementing in their Experience of the Future restaurants?

I have been amazed none of the mainstream media have connected the two with Create Your Taste and it wouldn’t surprise me if the UK get Create Your Taste when their re-imagining of stores is complete.

However, I am purely speculating, but some evidence points to it, especially considering customers are getting more accustomed to burger customisation.

And how timely was the recent announcement that McDonald’s UK are set to create an additional 5,000 jobs in this country?

OK, the official reason is they are needed for new restaurants and extended opening hours. But with more and more restaurants implementing table service the extra workforce could be required to fulfil those orders and maybe Create Your Taste?

However, don’t get too excited…

Recently, McDonald’s Corporation revealed their second-quarter same-stores sales in the US, and while growth continues, they were not as favourable as expected.

I like to look to the US for an indication of what we may get over here, as they have approximately 14,000 restaurants compared to that of 1,250 in the UK.

My theory, is that if a concept succeeds in America we are more likely to get it over here. A McDonald’s insider I follow on Twitter, tweeted that one topic you didn’t hear in the recent Q2 earnings call was that Create Your Taste is ‘dying’. So what does that mean for the UK?

Maybe we will be lucky and get Create Your Taste? Another option is an almost cut-down version called Taste Crafted. This gives customers the choice of four custom flavours, each pairing a number of set ingredients; Buffalo Bacon, Pico Guacamole, Maple Bacon Dijon and Deluxe.

You then get the choice of bun (artisan/sesame seed/potato roll) and then beef or chicken patties. This simplified version (with probably different Taste Crafted selections for the UK palate) could be a more viable option in the UK.

And what of technology?

Imagine having multiple versions of your various creations saved on your Smartphone. You could walk into McDonald’s, scan your QR code on the scanner on the kiosk and your burger will be created fresh for you.

Maybe you’ll be able to order and pay prior to visiting the store and walk-in to collect your freshly made creation?

Your guess is as good as mine at the moment as to whether the UK really will get customisable burgers via the Create Your Taste platform.

Originally, with the implementation of touch screen ordering kiosks and table service, I thought it was a given. But with the news from the US being that it is expensive and operationally difficult to run, maybe my speculation will only ever be that. Speculation.

In the meantime, if I want a customisable fast food chain experience, I will visit the ever-growing number of US-imports invading the UK burger market.

Burger Lad®

Thursday, 1st September, 2016
Friends unite to open garden cafe

Business Profile – Brother Marcus

The brainchild of three school friends, Brother Marcus opened its doors at the start of May.

The brainchild of three school friends, Brother Marcus opened its doors at the start of May.

Focusing on seasonal, organic and the highest quality produce, the garden café, in the heart of Balham, London, can accommodate 28 customers outside and 30 inside.

Alongside all-day brunch, coffee and cocktails, there are a selection of salads and gluten-free cakes, which are baked in house daily, as well as fresh smoothies and shakes.

We decided to speak to founders Alex Large, Arthur Campbell and Tasos Gaitanos, to find out more about Brother Marcus café and bar.

What is the ethos of Brother Marcus?

Arthur said: “We are passionate about every ingredient used.

“We love to be around the café and talk to all of our customers as we think it is important to hear their feedback and expand and work on that.

“We enjoy playing around with textures and flavours, essentially we make food that we ourselves want to eat.”

How strong do you feel the food-to-go/quick service restaurant market is at the moment?

Tasos said: “This market is huge at the moment and constantly expanding. Deliveroo is vast and so popular and UberEATS has just launched too.
“We will be working with Deliveroo on our evening offer of Big Boy Sandwiches.”

Who designed Brother Marcus cafe and how long did it take to open?

Tasos said: “We all designed Brother Marcus together and all built the interior and signage, luckily we have similar styles. We made the tables in our garden.”

Why did you decide to go with this style of design?

Alex said: “It is relaxed and open, it kind of naturally came together like that. We also wanted the interior to reflect the ethos of our food by using natural materials in the woods and plants.”

What are the latest trends in the market?

Arthur said: “A huge trend in the market that we have noticed is the use of herbs and plants in drinks, which has been great for us as we have so many plants and herbs growing in the café and out in the garden. We have developed a cocktail called Miss Robinson with the lavender from our garden infused gin, lemon and prosecco. We are now growing micro herbs and basil, which we are putting on our dishes and cocktails.

How many staff work for the business?

Tasos said: “Around eight, including the three of us, and 10 on weekends when we are busier.
What has the public response been like to your business?

Alex said: “We have been getting amazing feedback from everyone. People seem to be pleased with the dishes and ingredients, the coffee and cocktails and even the music we play.

“There is always room for development, and we are always open to hearing what our customer want.”

How would you describe your menu?

Tasos said: “Our menu started with good ingredients, we use high quality and organic produce and we started by making dishes that we all like to eat for brunch.

“From this we then started to play around with some other dishes while still keeping the quality and flavours that we all like. We have seasonal dishes that are constantly changing as we think it is important to use ingredients that are in season and have not travelled too far.”

What is the most popular item on the menu?

Alex said: “The Sister is currently our most popular dish which is avocado, spinach, chilli flakes poached eggs, bacon served with sour dough, which is followed closely by the Step-Sister which is courgette, beets and feta fritter served with smashed avocado, spinach and poached egg.”

What is your busiest time of the day?

Tasos said: “The weekends are our busiest times. We have queues out the door which is great, and the atmosphere is brilliant.”

What sets you aside from other similar businesses in your area?

Arthur said: “South West London has some amazing brunch places, we are just trying to do our own thing, which is to focus on the quality of our ingredients, the cooking and creating delicious drinks.

“We aren’t trying to be too fancy we just produce yummy tasting dishes that look good too. We also serve Caravan coffee which is one of the best and goes down very well with our customers. We have created our own homebrew cold coffee which is brewed for 16 hours, twice filtered and served over ice with a slice of lemon, very refreshing in the summer.”

What are your plans moving forward?

Alex said: “We have just introduced our evening menu, which includes some Big Boy Sandwiches. We have been testing these for a while and are very excited.

“We are serving them alongside some sides, if you can fit them in! We have also created some new cocktails to go with these sandwiches which are delicious and brought in some great craft beers from The London Beer Factory and Gipsy Hill Brewery.”

Brother Marcus is based on Chestnut Grove, London. Visit brothermarcus.co.uk for more details, or search brothermarcuscafe on Facebook, brothermarcus_ on Instagram, or follow @BrotherMarcus_ on Twitter.

Thursday, 1st September, 2016
We find out why sometimes it's what's on the outside that counts

Packaging and disposables

Packaging and disposables play a hugely important role in the food industry. Here we find out why the right products can be beneficial to businesses, consumers and the environment.

Packaging and disposables are vital role in the foodservice industry. Not only can they preserve the quality of food, but they also allow operators to control portion sizes, as well as helping to promote their brand.

With this in mind, we take a look at the different types of packaging and disposables available for foodservice, and discover how the right product can help your business, as well as ensuring the customers get the same product packaged as they would plated.

Industry voices: Mark Brigden, Technical Director, Biopac (UK) Ltd; Andy Bairstow, Managing Director, PFF Packaging; Rob Blunderfield, Marketing Manager, Parsley in Time; Mary Davies, Director, Charlotte Packaging; Mike Clarke, Sales Director, It’s a Wrap; Martin Leeming, CEO, TrakRap, and Teresa Suter, Sales Director, Vegware.

Why is having the right packaging important for food-to-go and quick service restaurants?

Packaging has a number of different uses in the food-to-go and quick service restaurant industry.

When it comes to considering which packaging is best suited to your business, it pays to do your homework.

Rob Blunderfield, from catering equipment supplier Parsley in Time, said:  “In food-to-go venues and quick service restaurants, grab and go foods need appropriate packaging. It needs to be cost-effective, functional, attractive, yet disposable.”

Mike Clarke, from custom printed food wrap manufacturer It’s a Wrap, agreed. He said: “All packaging has to be fit for purpose, especially keeping the food hot or cold and obviously intact.

“Some businesses may require their packing to be leakproof or greaseproof. It is advisable to have a simple packaging solution, something that’s easy to wrap or box. You also need a product that ensures the customer can consume the goods in an easy and practical manner, yet at the same time being appealing.”

Andy Bairstow, of packaging manufacturer PFF Packing, said effective packaging was vital in today’s ‘24/7 society’.

He said: “Without packaging today’s 24/7 society just wouldn’t be able to thrive.  Packaging has to perform in two critical ways - keeping the food warm or cold as appropriate and keeping the consumer safe from burns, scalds or spills. 

“So it’s not just a questions of the right packaging format, it’s also a question of the packaging performing correctly.  People don’t often think about the role packaging plays in society, but without it we’d miss our favourite pizzas, coffee, sandwiches, chips and so on.”

Mary Davies, from foodservice packaging producer, Charlotte Packaging, added: “From avoiding greasy fingers, to promoting the restaurant’s brand, using the correct packaging for your needs is essential for a number of reasons.

“You want to choose packaging that is the right size to comfortably fit your products, which will allow easy access to the food inside, will keep the food fresh, and won’t result in leaks or sticky fingers. This will ensure your customers enjoy your food at the best it can be.”

Teresa Suter, from eco-friendly packaging and disposable company Vegware, highlighted the importance of considering the presentation of your food when choosing packaging.

She said: “Presentation is absolutely crucial in communicating the quality and the style of your food.

“With increasingly busy lives, we’re eating more of our meals on the go than ever before. It’s important to ensure your fare stands out to the busy commuter when they’re deciding what to eat, and packaging is the central part of that presentation.”

How can businesses promote their brand through the packaging they use for their food?

“Packaging is a great medium for branding your product or service,” said Andy. “Branding your packaging takes your message and values right through to the point of consumption and reinforces your profile.

“If you use items such as cups, tumblers, hot food containers, boxes and salad containers, you should consider branding your product.”

Teresa agreed: “Customised packaging is a great way to promote your brand. It instantly makes your brand recognisable and sets your fare apart from competitors.

“We’ve seen a real surge in business from artisan coffee shops over the last few years and it’s important for them to set themselves apart from competitors.”

Mary added: “Choosing the correct colour, pattern or branded food packaging should be considered as this represents your business.

“When branded with your instantly recognisable name and/or logo, it becomes a great promotional vehicle – all passers-by will know where that tasty-looking, delicious-smelling snack is from, potentially gaining you more customers.”

What packaging products are available and how do you choose what’s right for your business?

With so many packaging products on the market, it’s important that you pick the one that meets the needs of your business.

But what considerations should you make when choosing packaging for the food you serve?

Andy said: “There is a huge range of packaging products available for the food-to-go sector for every type of menu item, from boxes to containers, salad bowls, tumblers, pots and cups. 

“The most important decision is to use a supplier who can guarantee you consistent quality and assurance of consistent supply - the last thing you need is to run out of a popular item when demand is high.

“Food-to-go packaging also has to be compliant with food contact legislation so operators need to check this when choosing items.”

Mike added: “From traditional burger boxes to chip scoops and hot dog trays, there are numerous designs and sizes available in the market.

“You should consider the design, the make-up of the cartons, the portion control and are they nested or flat for easy storage.

“Cartons can take up a lot of space which isn’t always available. We find a lot of street food vendors, restaurants and take away outlets prefer the option of greaseproof paper, as it takes up very little space.”

Mary said: “There are a few broad rules. For example, heavier items or those that require freezing should be packed in strong and sturdy polythene film bags, as this is a more robust plastic.

“Whereas if you’ll be serving up hot food, you may like to choose a bag made of antimist OPP, which prevents moisture forming on the inside of the packaging, or a greaseproof paper to avoid getting your hands dirty.”

Martin Leeming, from environmentally-friendly secondary packaging company TrakRap, had some advice for businesses. He said: “A large variety of products are available, with their suitability reliant on several factors, including the materials from which they are made, so it depends on the business.

“Identifying the most suitable option for your business can be difficult, even daunting. If in doubt, working with a packaging expert can help ensure the packaging you use is right for what you need it to achieve and fit for purpose.”

How can businesses ensure the packaging and disposables they use are environmentally-friendly?

Mark Brigden, of eco-friendly packaging and catering disposables developer, Biopac, said: “There is a general acceptance that unsustainable consumption cannot continue unabated.

“Plastic waste causes untold damage to the environment, as well as costing governments millions of pounds every year for disposal. Plastic waste such as bags and food cartons often ends up in landfill sites or discarded on the street.

“It’s therefore no wonder consumer demand is increasing for more responsibility in the way packaging is designed and the materials which are used.”

Mark added: “Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall (Hugh’s War on Waste, BBC1) recently reported that 2.5 billion takeaway coffee cups per year are thrown away in the UK, and you may be surprised to hear that less than one per cent get recycled. This is because most cups have a polyethylene coating (needed to stop leaks) that must be separated before recycling.

“Hugh’s campaign calls for 100 per cent recyclable cups. What it doesn’t address is 100 per cent compostable cups.

“The importance of using 100 per cent biodegradable products is paramount with the environmental concerns and regulations we face today.

“These problems can be faced head on by using biodegradable food packaging. These innovative products do not harm the environment, as they can be fully composted alongside the food waste associated with it – ideal for caterers and foodservice outlets. 

“There are products on the market which claim to be ‘eco-friendly’ but in reality they may be just a conventional plastic with an additive which merely breaks down the material into small fragments. These fragments still take 200 years to disappear.

“The best way of being certain is to ask for relevant certifications which substantiate any claims for compostability.”

Teresa agreed: “It’s important for businesses to choose packaging with strong environmental credentials – looking at how it’s made, what it’s made from and how it can be recycled.”

Mary advised:  “The simplest way of ensuring your food packaging is environmentally-friendly is to ask your supplier.

“However, doing your own research can also help. Keep an eye out for the recognisable circular arrow symbol, which should be depicted on the packaging if it is recyclable.

“Generally, the most commonly-used environmentally-friendly food packaging is made of either natureflex, which is made of wood pulp and other renewable sources and is biodegradable and compostable; PLA film, which is made of polyactiacid and degrades in just 45 days, or paper, which is sourced from renewable locations.”

Martin, agreed. He said: “Businesses need to do their homework and ensure the packaging/companies you work with are environmentally-friendly.”
Mike said: “Ask your supplier for the specification sheet on the product. The majority of packaging items should have accreditation attached to them.

“The majority of packaging is recyclable, however, the process of recycling certain items can be complicated, especially when PE coated and tin foil products are involved, and there has been much news recently about disposable cups going to landfill.

“There are a few wholesalers who specialise exclusively in environmentally friendly packaging. Ask the origin of the packaging and were it was manufactured.” 

Rob also offered some advice on what businesses should be looking for. He said: “Look for packaging that uses soya-based ink and recyclable paper-board with no plastic linings.”

However, Andy pointed out that food-to-go and quick service restaurant operators also need to find out what their local waste contractor can actually recycle.

He said: “There’s a lot of debate currently around what is recyclable or not.  Operators need to find out what their local waste contractor can actually recycle and ensure that products used are properly recycled and not just recyclable.  Materials such as PET and PP are commonly recycled and widely used in packaging products, so PET or PP is always a good choice.”

What future concepts are expected for packaging in the food-to-go/quick service restaurant industry?

Mary said: “In general, we’re seeing a shift towards card take-away packaging, over plastics, and there will be a change in the barrier coating on film, a drop away from thermoformed plastics.

“Branding will continue to develop as a communication tool, however, we also think consumers now expect not only great-looking packaging, but they expect a certain level of functionality too. Retailers will need to decide whether to invest in preservatives for products or whether they focus on investing in packaging that keeps food fresh for longer.

Mark said that businesses were reconsidering the use of packaging in response to customers’ environmental concerns.

He said: “As customers are becoming more educated about the impact packaging can have on the environment, companies are reassessing their use of packaging and are looking for ways to present more environmentally friendly solutions. If companies are going to the trouble to respond to this demand they should tell their customers about it.”

Teresa pointed out that as the demand for healthy food continued to grow, outlets would seek to reflect this in the packaging they used.

She said: “We expect to see a continued rise in clean living, clean eating food concepts which appeal to health-conscious customers. The packaging associated with this is simple, stylish and fresh.”

Mike said he expected any new packaging to follow a similar style to packaging already available to outlets. He said: “New style packaging is being introduced all the time, but normally it’s an alteration on an existing theme. Tried and tested packaging will remain at the forefront of the food-to-go market.”

Martin added: “Future packaging concepts will have to take the issue of available space into account, as well as the ongoing demands of hitting energy and material reduction targets and reducing fresh food waste.”

However, Andy suggested that it was food trends that will influence future packaging concepts.

He said:  “It’s important for manufacturers to keep track of trends, not just in the UK, but on a global basis, so we can be thinking about the formats that our customers will require in the future. 

“Trends such as noodle pots, soup, dipping sauces and porridge all need the right packaging formats and we are constantly thinking about the next trend.”

With people continuing to lead increasingly busy lives, packaging and disposables will play a growing role in the food-to-go sector, as more and more people consume their food on the move.

Therefore, it’s imperative that food-to-go and quick service restaurants get their packaging and disposables right.

While the main priority must be finding packaging that ensures food is preserved properly, businesses should also be looking to use their packaging to market their brand.

However, it seems customers are also drawn to outlets that can prove their green credentials, and this is something businesses can do through their packaging and disposables.

Thursday, 1st September, 2016
Find out what's driving the popularity of US food in the UK

American-inspired food

The popularity of American food in the UK shows no sign of slowing down. New US food chains are arriving on our shores all the time and independent outlets continue to pop up, offering their own versions of classic dishes from across the pond. But what is driving the demand in the UK for Stateside favourites?

When it comes to American food, it seems bigger is better. Whether that’s portion size or flavour, the dishes served up Stateside are a big hit with hungry Americans.

And now, it seems, they are also a big hit with consumers here in the UK, too.

The popularity of fare from the US continues to grow in the UK and both US fast food chains and independent British outlets are taking advantages of this.

In the past few months alone, we have seen chains such as Smashburger and MOD Pizza arrive from the US, while the pages of this magazine have featured a number of home-grown businesses serving up American-style dishes. 

With this in mind, we decided to investigate this lucrative sector and find out what the biggest trends are at present. We also aim to discover what you should be offering to your customers to keep them coming back for more, as well as investigating what the future hold for American-inspired food in the UK.

Industry voices: Mohammed Essa, General Manager UK and Ireland, Aviko; Nigel O’Donnell, Managing Director, Meadow Vale Foods; Jacqui Passmore, Marketing Manager UK and Ireland, Dawn Foods; Amy Page, Marketing Manager, New York Bakery Company; Al Thaker, Marketing Manager, McCormick (UK) Ltd; Jessica Lalor, Brand Development Manager, Kerrymaid; Leon Mills, KNORR marketing manager for Unilever Food Solution, and Nick Thomas, Sales and Marketing Director, Empire Bespoke Foods Ltd.

What is the attraction of American-style food here in the UK?

“American food is fun, simple, accessible and most of all tasty,” said Amy Page, from the New York Bakery Company, which makes bagels for the foodservice industry. “From decorative cupcakes, to burgers and barbequing huge slabs of meat ‘low and slow’ Southern-style, there’s also fried chicken, hot dogs, doughnuts and waffles – sometimes at the same time”

Jacqui Passmore, of sweet bakery ingredients and finished frozen products manufacturer Dawn Foods, agreed with this image of American food. She said: “American food has a fun and colourful image – think 1950s diners, the glamour of NYC or Hollywood and the heritage of the Deep South.

“Today’s American dishes show a real mix of flavours and textures from all over the world too and it is this exciting combination of cultures and history that make it particularly attractive to us Brits.

“As far as sweet bakery is concerned, the success of casual dining operators such as Boston Tea Party and Bill’s demonstrate consumers’ love of American nostalgia. We’re also seeing an increase in American-style eating, with brunch becoming increasingly popular, as well as diner-style food with flavours and presentation styles influenced by the US.”

Nick Thomas, from specialist food product distributor Empire Bespoke Foods, said: “Anything that is a little bit different has appeal.  People want to find in the UK the products they see in movies or social media posts from celebrities.”

Jessica Lalor, dairy ingredients producer Kerrymaid, added: “American-style food is famous for offering filling and tasty food whilst customers love to indulge in American-themed dishes which are very much on trend.”

Highlighting the importance of flavours, Nigel O’Donnell, of Meadow Vale Foods, which supplies poultry products to foodservice businesses, said: “The attraction of American-inspired food stems from the fact that many products in this sector are quick to cook and offer intense smoky and sweet flavours.”

Al Thaker, of flavour specialists McCormick, added: “Some of the appeal of this sector began with American ‘dude food’ as comfort food in the recession, especially as it’s comparatively cheap. There’s also a big nostalgia appeal, harking back to the retro glamour of Fifties Hollywood.”

What are the latest trends in the American-inspired food sector?

Despite burgers and fries retaining their appeal among British consumers, other US favourites are growing in popularity on this side of the Atlantic, as Mohammed Essa, of potato product producer, Aviko pointed out.

He said: “While traditional American food such as burgers remain popular – beef and chicken burgers remain in the top three most frequently listed menu items – the latest Horizons Menu Trends survey has highlighted that operators are now getting inspiration from the Deep South and their low and slow style of cooking food such as beef brisket, glazed pork belly and BBQ wings.”

Al agreed. He said: “The Southern US low and slow barbecue concept continues to make an impact everywhere. 

“We’re also seeing burned, smoked and charred making a big impression on menus, with charred or roasted vegetable sides, charred fruits or burnt-sugar toppings and even in cocktails, with smoky syrups and smoked salt.”

Nigel added: “American BBQ dishes are very popular, with outlets using cooking methods such as ‘fired’ and ‘charred’ to set them apart from competitors.

“Regional dishes from the US also offer a potential area to explore.

“Meadow Vale Foods’ Homestyle range, which launches in October, is a perfect way to tap into this growing trend.

“This new range takes inspiration from the American South and has been specifically developed for the casual dining and QSR markets.

“South American and Mexican cuisine should also get an honourable mention, with burritos and tacos finding their way onto many menus.”

Leon said: “One of the hottest trends of the moment is putting creative new flavour twists on America’s original sweetheart – burgers. Whether it’s piri piri fried chicken burgers or avocado and chipotle crab burgers, this tactic is proving extremely popular in the UK street food scene.”

Amy suggested that there was also a growing demand for American-inspired comfort food. She said: “The latest trends in American-inspired food centre on nostalgia and comfort food such as mac ’n’ cheese and meatballs, both of which are becoming increasingly common on UK menus.”

Focusing on the dessert sector, Jacqui said: “The latest trends in American-inspired sweet bakery are centring on ‘bigger is better’, plus nostalgia and comfort.

“There’s a big trend towards ‘over the top’ loaded brownies, traybakes and donuts, plus beverages such as ‘freak shakes’ loaded with sweets and other goodies.

“At the more conservative end of the scale, sweet bakery products are often impulse purchases that are emotionally and comfort-driven, so nostalgia is a key trend when it comes to appealing to consumers. Think vintage American – hand cut squares of carrot cake, authentic brownies, muffins and cookies ‘like mama used to make’.”

Sticking to the topic of desserts, Jessica added: “Large sundaes topped full of tasty treats are another impeccable and fundamental addition to any American-inspired menu.

“Sundaes offer operators the opportunity to drive afternoon and impulse sales. It is extremely important to offer a variety of different toppings to consumers. Having a wide choice adds an element of excitement to the offering and will also appeal to different consumer tastes.

“Another fantastic American-style dessert is the ice cream sandwich. Ice cream sandwiches are making a reappearance with a modern twist, as the traditional wafer is replaced with delicious homemade cookies – the perfect addition to an American-themed menu.”

Jessica also highlighted how street food operators can easily incorporate American-style dishes into their menus.

She said: “With the rising popularity of street food, there is a great opportunity for operators to offer a wider variety of American-style dishes in street food formats. Burgers remain one of the best-loved and most popular out of home menu choices so it is important for operators to acknowledge new burger trends and the on trend formats to serve them in.

“By taking a classic cheese burger or popular chicken burger and turning them into miniature slider versions, caterers can create a great lunch time grab-and-go option, as consumers can enjoy miniature versions of their favourite American-style burgers.”

What products are available to ensure businesses stand out from the competition?

With a whole host of American-inspired food outlets now operating in the UK, it’s important that your business stands out from its rival.

So, what can your outlet offer to keep customers coming back for more?

Mohammed said:  “Although American food isn’t new to UK menus, the cuisine is gaining in popularity thanks to operators upgrading the concept with barbecue pits and smokehouses.

“Similarly, while fries are typical of this cuisine, it makes sense for operators to upgrade their sides alongside their meat dishes.

“A more premium accompaniment such as Aviko’s Sweet Potato Fries will encourage consumers to trade up and spend that little bit more, as will the variety that Supercrunch – with it’s crispier, home-made appeal – offers menus.

“Aviko’s new Piri Piri Wedges will also help operators spice up their menus, in line with the heat that the deep-south offers.

“The skin-on jacket potato wedges feature a generous sprinkling of piri piri seasoning for a tasty kick, ideal for the 56 per cent of people (according to Horizons Menu Trends Report)  who say they want to see more spicy options on menus when eating out-of-home. With a further 63% saying they would choose potato wedges as their preferred spicy side and almost half (44%) willing to pay more for it, Aviko’s new addition helps operators meet consumers’ growing interest for menu options with heat and profit in the process.”

Nigel added: “It is important businesses in the casual dining, street food and QSR markets offer a good range of on-trend dishes, as nearly every outlet nationwide serves the standard burgers and fries.

“Businesses should look to exploit Southern-style chicken dishes, pulled meats and burritos.

“By offering these types of dishes, businesses will be able to stay in touch with consumers while adding value to their menus.”

Amy also noted the popularity of meats in the American-inspired food sector. She said: “Our love of Southern-style slow cooked meats in the UK has seen an exponential rise in the popularity of pulled pork.”

Advising how outlets can stay ahead of their competition through their dessert offering, Jacqui said: “Nothing says America more than donuts. Thirty million donuts were consumed in the European fast food sector in 2014 up 19% since 2013.”

What impact has the increase in the number of US food chains operating in the UK had on independent businesses serving American-inspired food?

“The increase in the number of US food chains operating in the UK has had a huge impact on independent businesses, both good and bad,” said Nigel. “Chains not only benefit from stronger consumer awareness, but also from their stronger economies of scale. As a direct result, independents suffer and cannot offer consumers the same value.

“In contrast, as the fast food, casual dining and QSR segment has moved more upmarket in recent years, big fast food chains have lost some of their appeal. This has resulted in the rise of independent gourmet burger and chicken venues that offer high quality products at affordable prices.”

Nick said: “Because of the popularity of US food chains in the UK, a lot of independents are looking to introduce a taste of America. Because more and more restaurants are offering American-inspired food, independents are looking for the unique products that will help them stand-out from their competitors.”

Leon suggested that the increase in the number of US food chains operating in the UK could prove good news for consumers, as outlets upped their game.

He said: “The rise in US food chains operating in the UK has meant more competition for both UK independents and chains serving American-inspired food.

“This extra competition has forced everyone to up their game. And it just goes to show what an appetite UK consumers have for American food.”

What does the future hold for the American-inspired food industry?

At present, it seems that consumers have a large appetite for American-style food.

But will this last and how can businesses keep customers interested in US dishes?

Al said: “The future’s looking very buoyant for Americana. There’s a whole continent to explore, made up of a wide variety of regional themes, dishes, variations, flavours and concepts.

“With the whole concept of American food being modernised and upgraded, there’s no end to the innovation and creativity that will be emerging to keep food lovers’ hunger for new sensations satisfied.”

Amy added: “The trend for Americana is continuing to grow in the UK and shows no signs of slowing down anytime soon.

“The success of casual dining operators such as Boston Tea Party and Bill’s demonstrates consumer’s love of ‘all things retro’.”

Jacqui said that flavours growing in popularity in the US sweet sector could soon be arriving in the UK.

She said: “Datassentials information (report on USA menu trends undertaken for Dawn Foods USA, in April 2016) shows that flavours beginning to trend on USA menus include citrus flavours such as Yuzu and Blood Orange, Green Tea and Matcha flavours, as well Brown Butter and Caramel Apple.

“It’s often the case that flavour trends in the US are adopted in the UK soon afterwards, so we’re likely to see an increase in these fresh taste profiles across all food categories, with innovative product formats in donuts, traybakes and muffins to match.”

Leon added: “Both North and South American influences are seeing significant growth emerge here in the UK. From fast-casual North American chains like Bill’s, to South American street food vendors – it looks like the UK is one place where indulgent American-style food will always be welcome to hang its hat.”

Nigel agreed, saying: “The popularity of American-inspired food will continue to grow.

“American-style food is a fast food staple and, with consumers continuing to demand better quality fare, new types of US cuisines are likely to emerge to cater for the growth in gourmet fast food.”

As US fast food chains continue to arrive on UK shores, it seems there is still a huge appetite for American fare on this side of the Atlantic.
Independent businesses are also getting in on the act, serving up their own American-inspired dishes to the British public.

The main trends at present seem to be flavours from the Deep South and the low and slow style of cooking, with favourites such as Southern-style chicken dishes, beef brisket, glazed pork belly and BBQ wings proving popular on many menus.

However, with so many regions to explore, expect to see even more American-inspired dishes appearing in UK food outlets. 
And as the competition hots up, so too will the quality.

Thursday, 1st September, 2016
We get an insight into the sandwiches and food-to-go market

Sandwiches and food-to-go

With the pace of modern day life showing no sign of slowing, sandwiches and food-to-go are as popular as every when it comes to keeping the nation fed during the lunchtime rush. But is your business keeping up with the latest trends in the sector?

Food-to-go is convenient and takes less than five minutes to purchase or fifteen minutes to serve. It incorporates a variety of items including sandwiches, wraps, hot and cold snacks and salads.

The ease and speed of which you can purchase and consume such items are huge factors in their popularity, with the food-to-go market now estimated to be worth £16.1bn.

And with the choice and flavours on offer continuing to grow, it seems there is no end of options on the table for hungry consumers looking for a quick lunch. 

With this in mind, we decided to find out more about this leading sector in the UK food industry, discovering the latest trends, as well as uncovering what the future holds for sandwiches and food-to-go.

Industry voices: Jessica Roper, Brand Manager, Crown Foods Ltd; Gary Johnson, Commercial Director, GRH Food Company Ltd; Lucy Dee, National Marketing Manager for SUBWAY® UK & Ireland; Graeme Simpson, Founder and Managing Director, Butterware; Grace Keenan, Marketing Manager for Kerrymaid; Malcolm Harling, Sales and Marketing Director Williams Refrigeration; John Wannan, Sales and Marketing Manager, Moffat Catering Equipment; Mark Hogan, Marketing and Sales Manager of Foodservice Equipment Marketing (FEM), and Ryan Kohn, Co-founder, PROPERCORN

What makes products in the food-to-go sector so popular?

With people leading increasingly busy lives, there needs to be a lunchtime food solution that is convenient, accessible and tasty.
And sandwiches and food-to-go are just that.

Jessica Roper, from Crown Foods, which provides meal solutions for businesses in the food industry, said: “Food-to-go is a booming category and has evolved rapidly in recent years.

“As lifestyles are changing consumers are ultimately demanding more and more ‘on the go’ foods.

“This has made way for new and exciting products which are starting to emerge into the growing food-to-go category.

“The traditional sandwich is getting a jazzy make-over, we are seeing new flavours and combinations, not to mention much better seasonal products.

“Furthermore, the category is seeing premium offers being led by quality and ‘better for you’ trends, featuring high protein and low fat lunchtime options.”
Grace Keenan, of dairy ingredients producer Kerrymaid, agreed. She said: “Consumers are busy and do not always have the time to sit down and eat a proper meal.

“Being able to quickly grab a dish and go is both practical and a key way to drive sales.

“By taking consumer favourite dishes such as, curries or pizza and creating them for the food-to-go sector, food outlets allow consumers to buy the food they would usually go for, but in a handy and convenient format.”

Malcolm Harling, of commercial refrigeration manufacturer and supplier Williams Refrigeration, said: “Grab and go food is increasingly popular with customers wanting ranges of tasty and healthy sandwiches, pre-packed salads, quiches, snacks, etc, which are easily accessible and ready to go.”

Lucy Dee, from sandwich chain SUBWAY®, echoed this view. She said: “When purchasing food-to-go, consumers are looking for a meal solution that satisfies their criteria of quality, taste, convenience, and price.

“As the largest submarine sandwich franchise across the globe and now the largest Quick Service Restaurant brand in the world (as measured by number of stores), the SUBWAY® brand continues to provide consumers with an experience that fulfils these criteria.

“According to the latest MCA data (July 2016), which looks at how customers perceive the main food-to-go brands, SUBWAY® stores and Greggs are considered the top brands for food quality/taste.

“This is an achievement we’re proud of, especially when considering that food quality is the key driving factor for food-to-go consumers seeking breakfast and lunch products, with value, location and fast service secondary considerations.

“We’re proud to have more than 2,300 stores in UK and Ireland and are looking to expand that base even further.”

John Wannan, of catering equipment manufacturer Moffat, added: “The grab-and-go sector is on an upward trend. Food-to-go venues tend to have to cope with large volumes of customers in a shorter time, so it’s important to provide efficient service.”

In terms of products which are popular with businesses serving sandwiches, wraps and salads, Gary Johnson, of GRH Food Company Ltd, which specialises in the supply of grated block and sliced cheese, highlighted sliced cheese due to it being easy to limit portion sizes. 

He said: “Portion management through slices is important to businesses. Each slice is a set weight and the variety in flavours and sizes we can offer.”

What are the latest trends in terms of sandwiches, wraps and salads?

As the demand for sandwiches and food-to-go grows, so too does the choice and flavours available to consumers.

But what are the latest flavour trends that businesses operating in this sector should be looking to incorporate?

Grace said: “As consumers search for new and interesting lunchtime options, operators should look to keep their selection of sandwiches and wraps fresh and exciting.

“New flavours and trends within the sandwich market are driving consumers to choose more adventurous options, and the low and slow cooking style has seen the emergence of trending flavours such as pulled pork and slow cooked brisket. Smoked and fusion flavour profiles are also on trend, and it is essential that operators incorporate some of these popular styles into their offering to keep their menu fresh and exciting.

“Operators can also consider offering a broader range of sandwiches and wraps as an alternative option for breakfast. Consumers are looking to these handheld options as a quick and convenient meal, especially when served as a hot item as they are substantial enough to satisfy the hunger, yet not too filling, compared to other options.

“With hot sandwiches and wraps in high demand, cheese also stands out as a favourite ingredient among diners.”

Lucy said SUBWAY® had seen a growing demand for flavours from across the globe. She also highlighted the fact that offering customers a wide range of breads, fillings and sauces was imperative for businesses looking to stay ahead of the competition.

She said: “We are always looking for ways to excite and engage our consumer’s taste buds to create the flavour combinations they crave.

“Tapping into the growing popularity of world cuisines, our Beef Pastrami Melt brought the authentic taste of New York to our stores in the UK and Ireland, and in March 2016 we brought back the well-loved Chipotle Chicken Melt to our menus due to popular demand.

“Healthier choices on the go also continue to be a key driver of current trends with consumers increasingly choosing freshly made options.”

Gary pointed out the popularity of sandwich and food-to-go options with a spicy twist. He said: “Spanish and Mediterranean flavours are on-trend at present, as consumers look for spicy and fresh flavours.”

Lucy added: “With the QSR market continuing to grow at a rapid pace, it follows that the sector is becoming increasingly competitive with consumers able to take their pick of a wide range of cuisines and meal options. As a result consumers are able to seek out meal options that meet individual cravings or dietary requirements.

“Offering a wide range of great tasting food choices that can be tailored to the customer’s individual requirements is therefore key to driving sales. 
“We believe this personalisation of the menu adds value to the customer experience.”

However, Jessica pointed out that the food-to-go sector isn’t just about sandwiches. She said: “The food-to-go sector isn’t just developing in terms of sandwiches and wraps, but brand new formats are emerging into the market, offering a tasty alternative in the form of ‘heat and eat’ street foods.

“Pouches and ‘micro pots’ are the latest additions to ambient and food-to-go fixtures, step-changing the rice and noodle snack offering from dehydrated formats in the form of ‘kettle pots’, with new tastier options with quicker cooking times, appealing to consumers busier-than-ever lifestyles.”

In terms of the equipment businesses should consider, John said: “Grab and go countertop display units in both chilled and heated versions are ideal for extending service to popular snack options such as sandwiches, salads, pies and pastries.”

How can businesses add value with sandwiches and wraps?

When attempting to add value to sandwiches and food-to-go products, businesses often choose to offer a meal deal option.
As well as adding perceived value, it also encourages add-on sales.

Lucy said: “Businesses can add value to their menu range by grouping popular products into a meal deal, this serves to encourage associated sales and drive the customer’s perception of value in a brand.”

Another option for outlets is to offer a loyalty card.

Lucy added: “To generate brand loyalty and reward our valued customers we operate a loyalty scheme.

“SUBCARD® lets customers collect points via an app or plastic card every time they make a purchase, which can then be redeemed against free subs, salads, hot drinks and snacks.”

Gary highlighted how outlets can offer extra value with a simple cheese twist.

He said: “By using different flavoured slices of cheese, outlets can change the type of wrap or sandwich without changing any preparation. For example, you can use a hot and spicy slice to make a Mexican-style wrap, or add pepper jack to make an American-style wrap with a barbecued meat.”

However, Malcolm pointed out that outlets also needed to think about how they promote food items and how they are presented.

He said: “To promote sales, grab and go units need to look attractive, with clean lines and stylish design.

“Businesses should look for grab and go units that give customers open, easy access to drinks, pre-packed snacks and dairy products.”

Ryan Kohn, of popcorn producer PROPERCORN, said outlets should consider the signage used to promote meal deals.

He said: “In-store signage, highlighting meal deals and meal solutions, is an effective way to inspire shoppers and educate consumers on the benefits of healthy snack alternatives such as popcorn.

“Simple steps can be taken to group on-the-go drinks, sandwiches, wraps and single serve snacks, such as popcorn in the same area of the store. Chiller baskets and carefully positioned clip-strips also help to group these products together and show customers a total on the go offering.

“Cross-promotion is a great way of driving trial and creating a strong on the go offering in store. Meal deals have proved to be a particularly important way for us to drive trial of PROPERCORN, making it accessible and driving both penetration and awareness. Cross promotion can be particularly successful when pairing more familiar, household name brands with newer snacks. Shoppers are encouraged to trial single serve alternatives at a lower price and have the opportunity to engage with healthier snacks that they may never have tried before.”

What are the advantages of buying in sandwiches, wraps and salads instead of making them fresh, and how do they compare?

When it comes to sandwiches, wraps and salads, some businesses chose to buy in pre-made products to sell to their customers.

Gary said: “For the consumer, it is the convenience of buying something quickly, whereas businesses that buy in pre-made products don’t need to hold ingredients that may go out of date like bread, meat and salad.”

However, Lucy says that SUBWAY® is committed to making fresh subs in front of its customers.

She said: “The SUBWAY® brand is committed to providing a wide range of great tasting food choices prepared freshly in store.

“Our customers are loyal to the huge variety of fresh and tasty combinations which we offer and that every one of our subs is made fresh in front of the customer, exactly the way that the customer wants.

“With 62 million combinations available, customers can pick their choice of bread, core ingredients, the salad and sauce they would like.

“We believe this bespoke menu packet and customer service model adds value to the customer experience.”

What equipment is available to ensure food-to-go products are presented at their best and how do you choose what’s right for your business?

“Grab and go display units in both chilled and heated versions are ideal for cafes and coffee shops offering sandwiches, salads, pies and pastries,” said John. “It is said that customers taste with their eyes before their mouths, so it is important that counters and displays not only hold food at the correct temperature but also show it off to its best advantage.”

Mark seconded the view that presentation was important in temping customers.

He said: “Grab and go is becoming increasingly popular across the industry. Heated merchandisers provide caterers with an ideal solution for keeping pre-packaged items hot and ready for sale.

“The way food is displayed can really affect customers’ choices. Attractive displays of freshly prepared food can prompt spur of the moment decisions. Display cases with bright internal illumination present products to their best advantage.

“As well as showcasing the food on offer, heated display cases need to maintain food quality and keep food at the perfect and safe serving temperature.

“It’s important for heated display cases to have a heating system that overcomes the drying out problems associated with keeping food hot for any length of time. This way food on display has a better appearance, taste and longer holding life – it can stay hot, fresh and moist for hours.”

Lucy added: “The SUBWAY® brand is always looking for ways to enhance the selection process for customers when in store.

“All our ingredients are clearly displayed in glass cabinets in order that customers can see the range and quality of ingredients available to them to choose from. This also enables the customer to clearly see the sub being made fresh in front of them.”

The need for equipment that stores food-to-go products properly for food safety reasons was highlighted by Malcolm.

He said: “Display units are an integral part of many food-to-go operations. Ranges of tasty and healthy sandwiches, pre-packed salads, quiches etc, all need to be displayed and stored in refrigerated units for freshness and food safety.

“A refrigerated food display needs a combination of effective refrigeration and high performance insulation, so that the cabinet temperature is always within its set parameters (typically 2 to 5°C for a sandwich chiller), even in ambients of 25°C.”

As well as storing food correctly, Gary said it was also important that sandwiches, wraps and salads were packaged correctly.
He said: “Packaging is key in the food-to-go sector. Making sure products are eye-catching is a must.”

What does the future hold for the food-to-go sector?

“The rapid growth in the food-to-go sector over recent years shows no sign of letting up,” said Lucy. “With consumer shopping and dining habits continuing to evolve, we are visiting stores more frequently and increasingly seeking out more flexible food solutions, trends which are set to continue. 

“According to IGD Retail Analysis (July 2016), current annual growth of over 6 per cent is attracting interest from a wide range of suppliers, retailers and foodservice operators. They predict the market growing by as much as 6% per year over the next five years, comparing well with their forecasts for the broader grocery market of under 2%.”

Gary added: “There is huge growth potential year-on-year, as more and more people look for convenience over making lunch at home.”

But how can outlets stay competitive in the food-to-go sector?

Lucy said: “One of the biggest challenges to the company is to retain our leading position amongst competitors through the use of technology.

“Here at SUBWAY® stores we are meeting this challenge with the recent launch of SUBWAY® Digital, a new division and trial for SUBWAY® stores in the US that kicks off a multi-faceted, multi-year guest experience revolution.

“The SUBWAY® Digital team will be evaluating all aspects of technology, from consumer-facing loyalty programs and the SUBWAY® App to back-end design, identifying new initiatives to personalise engagement with guests. We’ll be announcing new initiatives as they are developed, as early as 2017.

“We will also be launching on Instagram to ensure that we remain relevant and tuned into to our millennial market.”

Graeme Simpson, from Butterware, a cloud-based application providing lunch-to-go businesses with websites for online orders, agreed that outlets operating in the food-to-go sector should be considering how to use digital technology to push sales.

He said: “Online ordering is going to be a big factor for lunch-to-go businesses in the future.

“It’s clearly already had an enormous effect on the evening takeaway market, with portal sites such as Just Eat and hungryhouse being household names now.

“I believe it’s a fairly safe assumption that the move online will trickle (or rush) down to the lunchtime market over time.

“Domino’s Pizza reports that 77% of all orders are now placed online, which is a staggering figure. Customers find the mobile apps and website are more convenient than picking up the phone. And Domino’s is keen to push it owing to the increase in efficiency, not to mention the fact that orders are now paid for in advance instead of relying on the delivery driver to collect the cash.

“In the USA, the market for online ordering is ahead of the UK and the switch has had an even bigger impact already.

“A large number of independent pizzerias have closed owing to their failure to provide online ordering. Their customers expect to be able to order online and those businesses that ignored the trend have fallen by the wayside.

“UK lunch businesses, particularly smaller independents, would be wise to keep an eye on these trends and act early. The costs of going online can be very low and the benefits can be felt immediately.”

Highlighting future food trends in the sector, Jessica said: “The new chicken tikka with rice, from WAT KITCHEN, was launched earlier this year and appeals directly to those looking for authentic tastes, maximum flavour and on-the-go convenience.

“Once opened, mixed and popped in the microwave for only 2 minutes, WAT KITCHEN is ready to eat straight from the box, while on the move.

“Not only is it convenient, but the complete low fat range now consists of five tasty Asian flavours, made with only authentic and fresh ingredients, and absolutely no preservatives, meeting the growing demand for ‘better for you’.”

Ryan also suggested that there was a growing need for outlets to cater for consumers looking for a healthy option.

He said: “By introducing on-trend, healthier snack alternatives such as popcorn, retailers will encourage incremental sales and retain interest in the category. The UK healthy snack market is now worth £1.1bn.”

What advantage does embracing online ordering provide businesses operating in the sandwiches/food-to-go sector?

The number of outlets embracing online ordering is growing all the time as customers demand food when they want it, where they want it.

According to Graeme, this is an opportunity that businesses operating in the sandwiches and food-to-go sector should not be missing out on.

He said: “There are many advantages to moving online for your business and quite a few reasons your clients will be keen to make the switch too.

“The most obvious is simply data. A good lunch business will recognise their regular customers and get to know their preferences.

“But what about the irregular ones? With a website, you’ll be collecting the preferences and habits of all your clients.

“Once identified, you can tailor marketing campaigns to be aimed, for example, solely at those customers who used to visit but for some reason haven’t ordered for a while.

“You can keep people coming back by keeping in touch, sending special offers and tempting them with photos of your latest menu creations.”

Graeme added: “For businesses that deliver, if some or all of the orders on the van have been ordered in advance, that reduces the number of speculative orders that need to be carried. This therefore reduces the potential wastage each day.

“Some businesses now only accept orders and payment in advance. As the driver no longer has to wait for cash at each drop, they can visit a great many more locations each day, increasing efficiency and profits.

“And because the end customer no longer has to choose from the limited selection that’s left over, they get exactly what they want and will be much happier.

“A popular, busy shop will likely have a queue at certain periods each day. Although this helps the shop to look popular, it can put people off if they have a short lunchbreak.

“If your regular customers can order online, their order will be prepared in advance and they skip the queue to collect and enjoy their lunch instead. This also means that the shops can serve a larger number of clients during the lunch period.

“Orders could of course be placed in advance over the phone, but this is problematic, error prone and takes time from busy staff. This is particularly true if the business accepts buffet orders. If clients are creating the order themselves, the business is no longer responsible for any mistakes.”

In conclusion, it seems that the popularity of food in the sandwiches and food-to-go sector shows no sign of waning.

The main reason for this is the pace of modern life, with more and more people looking for quick and convenient lunch solutions.

As this trend continues, so too will the demand for sandwiches and food-to-go.

With this in mind, businesses operating in this sector will have to ensure they offer a wide range of flavour and filling options for sandwiches, wraps and salads, as well as providing options for health conscious customers.

Outlets should also look to encourage add-on sales through meal deals.

Another avenue businesses need to embrace in order for them to stay ahead of the competition, is online ordering.

By allowing customers to order and pay online in advance, businesses will be able to serve a larger number of clients, as well as speed up the transaction for the customer.

Thursday, 1st September, 2016
Opportunity to purchase a 2016 TGB Delivery 125cc Scooter

Online Auction of Delivery Scooters

An opportunity has arisen to purchase a 2016 TGB Delivery 125cc Scooter (as used by Dominos Australia).

Peter Davies and Sons are offering four of the scooters in their upcoming online auction. The auction is being held at their dedicated Auction Complex in Stockport. The timed online auction closes from 11am on Wednesday 14th September so register for free as soon as possible and place your bids.

To view the auction, you can go to www.peterdaviesandsons.com/auctions/

A few words from the manufacturers website:

“The delivery scooter has been specially designed for commercial use. It has purpose built frame for low gravity centre and adapted rear-twin shock absorbers. Instead of one main stand, we equipped L/R latching side stands that have built-in engine cut off. Top case having 150 litre capacity would never limit your usage at all. Also foot-rests are included for driver comfort and improved handling/weight distribution.

Looking for a more efficient delivery and promotional vehicle? The TGB Express is the only scooter designed for delivery and commercial purpose. With a large 150 litre top box and low centre of gravity for better balance…”

Also included in the auction is:
Nilfisk BR752 Floor Scrubber/Dryer
4 Motorised Lift Flight Cases
14 Flight Cases (as new)
New Hitachi CP-CX250 LCD Projector
2 HP Color Laserjet CP4425 Printers
Toshiba Satellite i7 Touchscreen Laptop
7 2500kg Pallet Trucks
Warehouse Racking/Shelving & General Equipment
Signed Memorabilia

Auction Venue:
The Auction Complex
1/16 Houldsworth Mill
Houldsworth Street

Viewing – Tuesday 13th September: Appointment Only
Auction Closes – Wednesday 14th September from 11am
Collection – Thursday 15th & Friday 16th September 9am – 4pm

For More Information, Contact Us On:
0345 257 2533
Auction hosted at www.AuctionHQ.co.uk

Peter Davies & Sons are auctioneers and valuers based in London and Stockport. They deal mainly with insolvency practitioners but if you would like to talk to them about selling your assets or holding an auction at your premises, anywhere in the country, please feel free to contact them.

Peter Davies & Son - logo

Tuesday, 30th August, 2016
Second Chick ‘n’ Sours to open in Seven Dials next month

Business Profile - Chick ‘n’ Sours

Following hot on the heels of the opening of the first Chick ‘n’ Sours last year, the hugely popular fried chicken restaurant is now preparing to welcome customers to its second venue.

Arriving in Seven Dials, in the West End, in September, the new restaurant promises a reimagined menu of free-range, herb-fed, fried chicken, sides, sour cocktails, local beers and soft-serve ice-cream creations.

The new site is a bold move for Chick ‘n’ Sours’ co-founders Carl Clarke and David Wolanski, who are aiming to recreate the success of their Haggerston restaurant. 

Speaking previously about the new opening, Carl said: “We couldn’t be happier with the location and the site, bang in the West End of London.

“Nothing changes though in terms of what we are all about – it will be the same wicked vibe and spirit that we’ve brought to everything we’ve done since our first parties years back.”

The core menu will remain short and straightforward. It will include some of the much-loved classics served up at the East London restaurant, such as the Korean Fried Chicken Bun and Szechuan Aubergine.

There will also be new additions, such as the Hot and Numbing Disco Wings and the Xian Xian Tenders, which have already been trialling at the Haggerston site. 

The signature house fry is finished off with Carl’s unique ‘seaweed crack’ seasoning and served with pickled watermelon. 

The guest fry will change on a seasonal basis and is inspired by travels and other countries’ interpretations of fried chicken.

Carl will continue his long-standing relationship with small independent producers, as well as using state of the art, greener, pressure fryers, to fry the chicken in British rapeseed oil, which has the lowest trans fats.

With all this in mind, we spoke to Carl and David to get the lowdown on the business and find out about the latest trends in the fried chicken market, as well as what the future holds for Chick ‘n’ Sours.

What is the ethos of the company?

“To enjoy what we do. If we and our great staff are enjoying our work this transcends to our customers and then in turn will help us build a great business. It’s not rocket science: Amazing food, awesome drinks, great tunes and happy customers!”

When did you open the first store?

“We opened the first Chick ‘n’ Sours store in May 2015, on Kingsland Road, in Haggerston, East London.”

Who designed the Seven Dials store?

“It has been designed internally by ourselves in collaboration with our good friend Camilla Kelly from The Mint List. We aim to open in September.”

Why did you decide to go with this style of shop fit?

“It will be the same eclectic design as our first place, which is a mixture of modern necessities with vintage and reclaimed pieces sourced from antiques markets and random spots.

“Like the first site, this will remain independent and back when we opened our first site, we begged, stole and borrowed, pulled in favours from friends and did lots of the DIY ourselves, as we funded it all ourselves.”

What are the latest trends in the market?

“We’re not too concerned about other trends. We focus on the ever popular fried chicken and make sure we produce the best quality, British, healthiest and tastiest fried chicken possible.”

How many staff work for the business?

“Currently we have 12 staff at our Haggerston site and this will probably treble when we open our site in Seven Dials, as we will be opening for lunch and dinner seven days a week and also putting the infrastructure in place to build a sustainable business.”

What has the public response been like to your business?

“The response has been overwhelmingly positive and we are very grateful for that. There has been a lot of love for what we are doing which makes all the hard work and commitment the team have put in worthwhile.”

How many customers can you accommodate?

“We can seat 32 covers in Haggerston (site 1) and we do around 500-600 covers a week there, even though we are only open for dinner Tuesday to Friday and do lunch and dinner on Saturday and Sunday.

“The Seven Dials site will be slightly bigger with around 40 covers.”

How would you describe your menu?

“It’s a short punchy menu of imaginative and fun fried chicken dishes, and sour cocktails. We source the best possible ingredients, such as our free range, herb-fed chickens from Pilmoor Grange Farm, in Yorkshire, and you’ll always find fresh vegetables on our menu from Keveral Farm Organic Farming Community, in Cornwall.”

What is the most popular item on the menu?

“With it being a short menu, they all have to be winners.  The Korean Fried Chicken Bun is an amazing, massive, juicy, spicy burger, which is very popular but the Szechuan Aubergine dish won Hot Dinners Dish of The Year, 2015.”

What is your busiest time of the day?

“Evenings are normally the busiest time of the day, as we don’t open for lunch except at the weekends. Sunday lunches are busy as we do a special whole fried chicken.”

What sets you aside from other similar businesses in your area?

“There are many people doing lots of fantastic things around where we are and in London in general. We have spent years perfecting our brine ratio, our flour mix, sourcing the best chicken etc, and combine that with the creative talent of Carl Clarke and Ash Mair, it takes Chick ‘n’ Sours to the next level.”

What are your plans moving forward?
“We will continue to focus on giving each and every customer who comes into our restaurants the best possible experience.

“If we continue to do that and manage our business well, then a steady growth in London, and then beyond into other UK cities, should follow naturally. There’s some amazing food scenes happening all over the country and we want to embrace them.”

Wednesday, 10th August, 2016
How switching on to new technology can help your business

EPoS and till systems

Electronic Point of Sale (EPoS) and till systems have come a very long way in a very short space of time. Major advancements in technology mean that as well as being able to process payments, they now offer food-to-go and quick service restaurants a range of solutions to drive efficiency

Taking payments, ordering stock, marketing, and improving customer experience are just a few of the tasks businesses in food-to-go and quick service restaurant (QSR) sector need to find solutions for.

In the not too distant past, all of these would have to be done separately and taken up time and energy.

However, the advances in EPoS and till systems mean that technology can now be used to complete these tasks quickly and efficiently.

Over the next few pages we find out about the roles EPoS and till systems play in the foodservice industry.

We also investigate the latest trends and find out what businesses in the food-to-go and QSR sector should be looking for when buying new equipment.

voices: Geoff Whittle, Managing Partner, Integer Computers LLP; Steven Rolfe, Managing Director, pointOne EPoS;
James Frost, Chief Marketing Officer, Worldpay; Peter Moore, CEO, Lolly, Clive Consterdine, Sales and Marketing Director, Zonal Retail Data Systems; Mat Prowse, Director, Rockfish, and Jules Capriglione, Head of Marketing, RST EPoS. 


In the food-to-go and QSR industry, time is money. At busy periods, any part of the service operation hampered by poor equipment or slow processes can cost businesses customers and in turn money.

So, how can an effective EPoS system solve these problems?

Steven Rolfe, from pointOne EPoS, which develops and builds EPoS systems, said: “Effective EPoS systems enable you to maximise revenue during peak traffic by offering a slick and intuitive user interface and reliability.

“Solid and well-designed scalable EPoS systems also enable you to add-on other key technologies for the QSR space, such as online ordering for customers wishing to click and collect to save queuing during their lunch break, and also customer-facing kiosks to really enhance the customer experience and drive engagement.”

Peter Moore, from EPoS software company Lolly, said: “In today’s time poor world, people want to be served quickly and efficiently - so they will have more time to do what they want and when they want.

“New EPoS systems deliver time-saving solutions. That includes contactless payment methods that enable a loyalty product scheme which can be delivered quickly to the customer at point of sale.

“From a food-to-go perspective, an EPoS system delivers efficiency and increased profitability to the business, being efficient with reconciliation, stock management and staff management. Retailers need to ensure they have chosen a system that enables them to work smarter and more effectively.”

Clive Consterdine, from Zonal Retail Data Systems, which supplies technology solutions to the hospitality businesses, added: “Food to go or quick service, is just that – fast, efficient delivery of food for customers.

“It’s about driving efficiency, not just in terms of speed of service, but also in terms of pricing, quality and availability. 

“Having an effective EPoS system is essential for any food to go operator, as it not only helps with tighter control of stock, ordering and pricing but is there to enhance the guest experience every step of their journey. 

“Happy customers drive loyalty, sales and profits, so investing in an EPoS system with integrated functionality, is essential to business growth.”

Jules Capriglione, from RTS EPoS, which provides EPoS hardware and software solutions, said that having an effective EPoS system can ensure businesses are more efficient.

He said: “An effective EPOS System enables a more streamlined ordering process; establishing trends via reports, maintains control and helps develop food pathways, online shopping and online marketing direct to customers. Resulting in a cost effective, efficient business.”

Geoff Whittle, from Integer Computers LLP, which develops EPoS software and hardware solutions, highlighted the value of an effective EPoS system to fast food delivery business, pointing out some of the tasks that such technology can be used for.

He said: “EPoS for fast food delivery can be used with integrated online ordering, offering instant caller recognition on the screen, postcode look-up for new customers and you can receive online orders on-screen from your own website.”

James Frost, from payment processing technology company Worldpay, added: “In fast paced restaurant environments where speed and convenience can be a deciding factor in terms of where consumers spend their money, having a simple and flexible EPoS system is essential to offer a quick and seamless payments experience.

“Contactless technology in particular has emerged as a must-have feature for fast food outlets, speeding up service by approximately seven seconds compared to chip and pin payments. We have already seen Britain’s high street fast food outlets driving the revolution in contactless technology, with the sector accounting for 48% of the total UK contactless transactions processed by Worldpay in 2015. The sector’s high volumes of lower value transactions are ideal for tap-and-go, which is now the preferred payment of choice for countless customers.

“But the real value EPoS brings to small business owners is its ability to reduce the daily admin burden by automating the reconciliation of cash and card payments.  We know that small business owners spend roughly a fifth of their time on paperwork.”


Any piece of equipment that saves time and money is invaluable to businesses in the food-to-go/QSR industry and, according to our experts, an effective EPoS system is definitely a tool that can help with this.

Wednesday, 10th August, 2016
We take a look at the latest trends in this sector

Gourmet fast Food

People’s expectations of fast food are changing, with consumers increasingly looking for high quality fare. Due to this, the gourmet fast food sector is growing with new restaurant concepts springing up all the time and food outlets already in operation developing new products to keep up with the competition.

With the pace and demands of everyday life increasing all the time, so too are the demands of consumers in relation to the fast food they eat.

People are no longer happy to make do with bland, uninspiring fare as they try to find a bite to eat during their lunch break, or when deciding on a takeaway or quick meal out.

More and more people are craving high quality food which is innovative, fresh and tasty, yet is still ready in a matter of minutes and relatively inexpensive.

As the demand for gourmet fast food grows, so does the number of outlets offering such fare.

From street food vendors, to fast food chains, it seems more and more businesses in the food-to-go/quick service restaurant sector are upping their game to draw in the crowds.

With this in mind, we decided to take a look at the latest trends in the gourmet fast food sector and investigate the products that are available to foodservice.

We also aim to find out what you should be offering to your customers to hold their interest and keep them coming back for more.

Industry experts:
Nick Pagett, Managing Director, Mom’s Fabulous Foods, Teresa Suter, Sales Director, Vegware; Mark Yates, Co-founder and Director, Empire Dogs; Peter Millen, Managing Director, Speciality Breads; James Circuit, Development Chef, Major International; David Bryant, Managing Director, Major International; Amie Shellis, Marketing Executive, Paramount 21; John Tabatabai, owner, Rawligion, and Nigel O’Donnell, Managing Director, Meadow Vale Foods


With an ever-growing number of businesses competing in the food-to-go/quick service restaurant sector, the amount of choice consumers have is huge.

This means outlets have to up their game to stay ahead of the competition.

Nigel O’Donnell, of Meadow Vale Foods, which supplies poultry products to foodservice businesses, was quick to highlight the importance of this sector. He said: “Gourmet fast food is becoming a very influential sector in the food-to-go/quick service restaurant industry as many young Britons are switching from the traditional fast food restaurants to gourmet alternatives.

“The gourmet fast food concept provides a change to the traditional ‘one size fits all’ mentality associated with most of the big fast food chains.”

John Tabatabai, who owns Rawligion, a fast-casual café focusing on vegan, dairy-free, gluten-free, raw, plant-based food, agreed. He said: “Gourmet fast food plays a critical role in the food-to-go/quick service restaurant industry.

“People are no longer happy or want to settle for average food given the amount of information there is about health and nutrition.

“Regardless of people’s dietary beliefs, everyone wants to know where their food comes from, how it’s been processed and that it will help improve the quality of their life as well as provide temporary enjoyment. This is no longer true of just restaurants, but also grab-and-go outfits too.”

Teresa Suter, from eco-friendly packaging and disposable company Vegware, highlighted the fact that gourmet fast food was vastly different from the items on the menu at any regular takeaway outfit. She said: “Gourmet fast food isn’t your average takeaway fare – it’s high quality, innovative and looks amazing.”

Mark Yates, from gourmet hot dog company Empire Dogs, agreed on the fact that gourmet fast food was much better quality than standard products and added that fast food outlets were raising the standard of their food to cater for consumers demanding greater quality.

He said: “Gourmet fast food is becoming increasingly trendy as it’s a way to replicate gourmet street food experiences from around the world in a readily available, ready-to-eat format.

“Consumer tastes are changing. We are moving towards a grazing culture with less defined lunch breaks. People don’t always have time for a sit-down meal, especially during a hectic workday or when out and about. Rather, they want to try something more interesting than a quick sandwich. This has been fuelled by the huge rise in the popularity of street food markets in recent years as consumers search for a more innovative food offering which is fresh, tasty and good value. 

“Consequently, gourmet fast food is playing an increasingly important role in the food-to-go/quick service food industry as consumers require a higher quality product. 

“Empire Dogs supply a number of universities who have been keen to adapt to the increased demand for gourmet food that can be served quickly to a huge number of hungry students, who are looking for something delicious, nutritious and want it fast.

“It also needs to taste amazing and offer a feel-good factor that raises it above the typically poor quality, soulless standard products we’re used to seeing, so remaining true to an enlightened ethos about where fast food comes from and ethical standards.”


With the competition in the food-to-go/QSR sector growing all the time, business have to ensure they stay ahead of their rivals.

As the number of outlets has grown, so too has the quality and range of food on offer, with this the demands of the customer have also grown, as people expect more.

Teresa said: “People are leading increasingly busy lives and it makes sense for them to eat on the go – but with gourmet takeaway, it happily doesn’t need to come at the expense of the quality of the food or presentation.” 

Nigel seconded this view. He said: “Gourmet fast food is growing in popularity because the quick to cook/serve nature, along with the fact you are getting a better quality product, appeals to the needs of an increasingly convenience-focused consumer.

He added: “Consumers are also becoming a lot more health conscious and fast food outlets are tapping into this trend offering products such as sweet potato fries instead of normal fries. Minor changes like this are adding value to dishes, but also attracting consumers as they offer health benefits.”

John agreed. He said: “There is much more of an awareness of where food comes from, its quality and what it can do for your health than there ever has been before.”

James Curcuit, from Major International, which specialises in the production of soups, sauces, stocks and gravies, added: “Gourmet fast food satisfies consumer desires for good food fast. No longer are we content with below standard fare. We want delicious flavoursome food and we want it now and packaged to go.

“Be that gourmet tapas, a pimped up burger or a restyled gourmet chicken dog served in a brioche bun.  We are even prepared to pay good money for it, but it has to taste as good as it looks.”

Mark agreed that the demand for quality was behind the growth in popularity. He said: “Gourmet denotes quality. By describing something as gourmet, we imply that the food not only tastes wonderful, but it has been made with
the highest quality gredients.”

Peter Millen, of artisan bakery business Speciality Breads, said that one of the reasons for the growth in the popularity of gourmet fast food was down to consumers becoming more adventurous.

He said: “With consumers continuing to be adventurous when eating out and often selecting with their eyes, the time when poor quality, cheap and uninspiring fast food is over. Consumers have become more discerning so gourmet fast food has become vital across a range of sectors and there is some fantastic innovation taking place.”

Amie Shellis, from Paramount 21, which produces frozen seafood and vegetarian dishes for the foodservice industry, added: “So many factors play a huge part in the growing popularity of gourmet fast food, which shows no signs of slowing down. Consumers want quick food to go, however, they are not willing to compromise on quality. We can clearly see evidence of this with some of the big fast food chains adding gourmet options to their menus to compete with smaller independent gourmet fast food restaurants.

“With more than a third of consumers now considering themselves ‘foodies’, it’s no wonder that the demand for better quality fast food is growing. This trend has been helped along greatly by social media, with over 38 million hashtags on Instagram for ‘foodie’ and over 26,500 for ‘gourmet burger’. Foodservice operators need to consider more and more - is their food instagrammable?

“With ‘at home cooking’ also on the rise, we’re much more knowledgeable about flavours, ingredients and sourcing, which is reflected in the level of gourmet fast food. We not only want quality and food that looks great, consumers now demand provenance and authenticity. Gourmet fast food has been able to deliver these key components enabling it to become a big trend and we can already see how these demands will filter out into the wider foodservice market.

Giving an example of how a product can be turned into gourmet fast food, Aimee said: “Our Seeded Jack Sprats are able to hit the mark for casual dining restaurants. They can be dressed up as a gourmet seafood burger or dressed down as a snack or sharing plate.”

However, Mark said: “Some fast food manufacturers add the term gourmet to their description as a marketing ploy. They believe that if a food product is labelled gourmet it is premiumised in the customer’s eyes and they are more likely as a consequence to pay a higher price for it. The only problem with this is that there are no restrictions or guidelines within the food industry as to what denotes gourmet!  Anyone can say a product is gourmet, but is that really the truth?”


With so many flavour and food options on offer, consumers have an amazing variety of options to choose from when it comes to gourmet fast food.

But according to our experts, some of the old favourites are still proving immensely popular, with a few added twists and new toppings.

Nick Pagett, of gourmet hot dog company Mom’s Fabulous Hot Dogs, said: “The rise of gourmet fast food consumption has opened the door to a world of hot dog dining options.

“Mom’s has seen unprecedented growth in this market with our varied range. The birth of mom’s Rosti Dog provides a popular option to the gourmet fast food market offerings.”

Peter added: “While pulled pork and healthy gourmet fast food dishes are all the rage, the burger industry still has to be one of the most innovative and creative sub-sectors in foodservice. 

“Just when you think the burgers can’t go any further, new trends, ideas and chefs seem to come along providing new twists to keep the burger craze moving forward. 

“In the last few months, I have seen some stunning vegetarian burger offerings which have really taken off, plus fillings, toppings and sauces which I wouldn’t have imagined 10 years ago. 

“There is also a real trend for burgers with an ethnic twist and I expect this to continue.  This includes Spanish burgers made with chorizo or Iberico pork, Korean burgers with kim chi and Mexican burgers with a spicy kick. 

“With a sport packed summer, I expect to see plenty more international flair in the world of burgers, so bring on National Burger Day (August 25).”

Nigel was keen to highlight the growing influence American food was having on the gourmet fast food sector in Britain: “American-style food and flavours continue to be a key theme in the fast food and casual dining market.

“Meadow Vale Foods’ Homestyle chicken range, which is launching in October, is perfect for outlets serving this type of food.

“Each portion is covered with a crunchy seasoned coating giving them a home-cooked feel and making them a perfect addition to gourmet fast food menus.

“As well as American-style food, according to Mintel (2016), there has also been a surge in burrito bars and made to order gourmet kebab bars as the concept of fast casual dining grows.

“Interestingly, vegetables and superfoods such as avocado and kale have also become very popular over the last year, as the younger consumer becomes more health conscious.”

David Bryant, from Major, pointed out the growing demand for spicier flavourings.

He said:  “Over the past year our piri piri and fajita marinade bases were our top sellers, rising to prominence and pipping more traditional flavourings such as barbecue to the post.

“However, trends are proving that there is a definite market and demand for spicier more exotic old world flavours, with our Moroccan, Bombay and Oriental marinade bases being steady risers.”

Mark agreed that spicy food was continuing to grow in popularity.

He said: “The latest flavour trends include Mexican flavours like jalapeno peppers, chorizo, smoked paprika and Cajun chicken. 

“Through adding different toppings we can adjust the flavour profile to appeal to new trends in food. We call it ‘Pimping’ the dog.

“Students particularly like to customise their hotdogs by adding different toppings and relish each time they order.” 

Mark added that certain types of bread were proving popular in the gourmet fast food sector.

He said: “We also use the classic brioche bun for our hotdogs. These have quickly become the preferred indicator of a gourmet fast food option to accompany burgers, hotdogs and sliders, as they are richer in flavour than standard white buns and rolls, hold their shape better and absorb more juice and sauce without falling apart.

“People are also prepared to pay a little bit more for what they consider to be a premium ingredient like this.”

John also pointed out that more consumers were interested in the health benefits of what they eat, as well as where their food comes from.
He said: “People no longer want just Italian, but they want food specifically from Puglia or from Tuscany. They want food with stories, food with history.

“On the other side of the spectrum people also want to eat and drink better quality ingredients. We are seeing for the first time a shift in both mentality and also lifestyle where people are preferring to spend more money on better quality foods.”

How can 

“Well, that’s the million dollar question,” said fast-casual café boss John. “Please let me know if you find out!”

However, Nick suggested it was all about quality. He said: “People in the UK demand quality. It’s important to get it right.

“Mom’s Fabulous Hot Dogs differ from the old soft textured hot dogs that have little consumer confidence. 

“Mom’s has set about changing the perception of a hot dog by introducing a range of meaty products with different flavours, textures and by using superior meat standards.

“Our quality assurance is always a big part of keeping ahead and differentiating from others. We want eaters to have the perfect gourmet experience.”

Nigel agreed that quality was a key factor. He said: “To ensure gourmet fast food outlets stand out from their competitors, it is important to offer a product or service that is unique and of a higher quality in comparison.

“Gourmet fast food outlets should also look to create natural, high quality products with a twist. This should be combined with having the ability to adapt to customer needs and meeting their demands of ‘what they want and when they want it’.”

Mark urged businesses to keep it simple. He said: “Stick to what you do and do it well, but create specials so you can let your customers experiment with new ideas and flavours, and create their own dish, as they want it not as your brand says it should be.”

Peter agreed, but added that a ‘certain quirkiness’ was also important.

He said: “Speed, simplicity and of course quality are all essential for gourmet fast food outlets.

“A certain quirkiness and a unique proposition are also vital as it’s a popular marketplace and extremely competitive.”

James, however, urged outlets to embrace the demand for high quality street food.

He said: “Restyled vintage Street vans are everywhere right now and seem to be going from strength to strength. Not only in your usual venues, but increasingly more sought after to cater for weddings and events in general.”

In terms of packaging and presenting gourmet fast food, Teresa said businesses should definitely consider the environment.

She said: “Eco-friendly packaging! A recent study found that products in eco-friendly packaging are seen as better quality, and lead to customers spending more money as a result.

“Consumers are increasingly looking for sustainability in their packaging.”


Nigel said: “Presentation is key when preparing gourmet fast food and the look of a dish - from the sides alongside the chicken burger, to the colour of the bun - has to be correct to catch the consumer’s eye and draw them in. 

“Creating a rapport between the customer and the brand is also important and this can be done by offering customers branded packaging for their food.”

Teresa added: “It’s important for food packaging to combine an instant grab-and-go appeal with a high quality look and feel.”

Nick said: “Street food packaging should be responding to the increasing demand for small, disposable and easily transportable packaging designs, by producing more versatile and creative solutions.

“According to the Packaging Technology and Integrated Solutions Report 2016, ‘over 80% of consumers feel that packaging should keep products fresh and prefer products sold in packaging that can be easily opened and closed without the use of scissors or other tools’. The report went on to say that ‘flexible packaging is now the second-most popular form of packaging amongst new products, while pouches and sachets have experienced the biggest growth in the market. It is also an area where new shapes and closures are combining to make some unique packaging’.

“Mom’s branding and packaging is vibrant, and eye-catching, and consists of several clever design elements to offer good level of practicality to their consumers.”

Mark highlighted the need for businesses to create an identity with their branding. He said: “It’s important to create a dynamic identity that does not necessarily comply with standard branding methods.

“Good non-brand branding creates the illusion of cool, ‘street’, ‘savvy’ and fashionable gourmet food. This is what we’re trying to create here with our packaging, to tell the story of the brand quickly and effectively on a simple cardboard holder that is instantly recognisable.”


According to Nick, the market will only continue to grow. He said: “As consumers become more exposed to high quality and adventurous foods at affordable price, their expectations of food are constantly on the rise and consumer demand will stimulate market growth.”

Nigel agreed. He said: “The future for the gourmet fast food market is bright, as the surge towards convenience continues and the fact that more and more consumers are demanding high quality fast food.”

Mark added: “It’s 2016 and the British Street food revolution is in full swing.  Street food markets are becoming a regular fixture as people look for better quality food.

“People are moving away from the larger fast food chains and seeking out a gourmet offering instead. 

“McDonald’s has responded to this move away from the big food chains and the move towards a higher quality offering, by trying to entice people back by offering table service and gourmet burgers.

“Fast food is always popular during a recession as people accept they’ll have less to spend on eating out.

“However, consumers still want a product that is tasty, satisfying and made from quality ingredients that incorporate more exotic and authentic flavours with their own tasty twists on standard items such as hot dogs.

“This helps create an edge in the fast food market. It also helps us adhere to the premise that more people want to eat well and won’t settle for mass-produced, soulless food with no ethical integrity.”

John added: “It’s the future in modern cities as people have less time and still demand higher quality fuel.”

James believes that in the future we could see some British takeaway favourites being given a gourmet makeover.

He said: “Whilst international street-fusion and classic reinventions have been high on consumer lists on and off the streets, humble British takeaway favourites could definitely be the next to have a makeover and go gourmet.” 

Teresa added: “The popularity of the gourmet fast food sector certainly shows no signs of slowing! We’ll be continuing to provide innovative eco solutions for gourmet food on the go to keep up with the latest trends.”
In conclusion, it seems that the gourmet fast food sector is only going in one direction.

No longer are people happy to make do with bland, uninspiring fare.

And as consumers demand better quality and a greater range of flavours from all around the world, food-to-go and quick service restaurants will need to work hard to keep up with trends.

However, with a little bit of innovation, every grab-and-go or fast food option can be improved with better ingredients and given a gourmet twist.

Wednesday, 10th August, 2016
There’s no better way to enjoy summer than with a  frozen dessert

Ice cream and frozen desserts

With the summer in full swing, there’s no better way to cool down than with a scoop of ice cream or by tucking into a refreshing frozen dessert. With so much choice on offer, we find out what products are hot and how businesses can draw in the crowds with their cool offerings.

Despite the fickle nature of the British weather, it seems that the market for ice cream and frozen desserts remains as popular as ever.

With this in mind we speak to some of the leaders in this industry and see what’s new in the market in terms of product development.

We also find out how can you make your business stand out from your competitors during the summer months, when demand is at its highest?


Christina Veal, Director, New Forest Ice Cream; Michele Young, Director, Coolberry Café; Scott Duncan, Sales Director, Carpigiani UK Ltd; Heather Beattie, Buffalo Brand Manager, Nisbets Plc; Guy Cooper, Managing Director, Mitchell & Cooper; Rob Blunderfield, Marketing Manager, Parsley in Time; Rebecca Manfredi, Managing Director, Suncream Dairies; Mike Godwin, Managing Director, Amore Di Gelato.

What Role does ice cream and frozen desserts play in the quick service restaurant/Food-to-go market?

Whether it’s the centre piece of a dessert or as accompaniment to your pudding, ice cream is one item that is likely to feature on nearly all food-to-go and quick service restaurant menus.

And, it seems, the popularity show no signs of waning.

Mike Godwin said: “Recently, we found that 85 per cent of venues questioned, claimed that ice cream was bought by over half of all diners.”

Rob Blunderfield added: “Ice cream and sorbets have always been popular menu choices for all ages in the quick service restaurant and food-to-go market.”

Heather Beattie agreed. She said: “Nothing holds quite the same appeal as delicious ice-creams, sorbets and frozen yogurt, particularly during the summer months.”

Christina Veal said: “In general, and despite our interchangeable weather in this country, the ice cream market in the UK is massive. Just think how many times you choose ice cream to complement a dessert when you are eating out, or how often you treat yourself to an ice cream on a leisurely afternoon stroll.

“There is a serious profit margin to be made from ice cream, whether served in a cone or a coupe.  However, to ensure that you reap the rewards, quick service restaurant operators need a menu that will entice.

Guy Cooper added: “The summer months are a key time for any outlet looking to entice customers, and nothing quite says summer like ice creams, sorbets and frozen yoghurts.

“Offering customers a refreshing and unique summertime treat can maximise on frozen dessert sales, and with the home-made trend continuing to rise, investing in innovative desserts can create a unique selling point against the competition.”

However, Rebecca Manfredi advised that businesses should also pay attention to their ice cream and frozen dessert menus at other times of the year and not just in the summertime.

She said: “It’s a myth that ice cream is only popular during the summer months so make sure your ice cream menus are updated, and new flavours introduced, all year round.  Offering a selection of tempting ice cream desserts will give you the perfect opportunity to capitalise on your customers’ indulgence factor at the end of a meal whatever the weather.

“The key to increasing revenue is to ensure that ice cream desserts look visually attractive and are described appealingly – and accurately - on the menu, but nothing sells quite like enthusiasm so brief your staff thoroughly on the product and its ingredients, and always encourage them to ‘upsell’ with a range of serving suggestions.”

This was seconded by Christina, who said: “A winning ice cream menu must be exactly that, a menu.  Having something tangible that you can place in a customer’s hand with appealing images and detailed descriptions is a fantastic sales tool.  Furthermore, having staff that can then sell the dessert or ice cream concept, rather than simply offering it, will again help to encourage customers to indulge at the end of the meal.

“An appealing menu should include something for everyone; from individually wrapped lollies and ice creams for the very youngest, to a wide range of scoops in a coupe or cone for a grab-and-go offering or sensational sundaes that will spark adult conversation around the table, all are necessary, and all will help to increase your takings. Look to upsell here, no one is ever going to choose the smallest portion.”

Michelle Young agreed that ice cream and frozen desserts provided businesses the perfect opportunity to upsell.

She said: “Ice cream and frozen desserts are predominantly ‘impulse purchase’ items, so they are great products to have on your menu as they offer you incremental add-on sales and profit opportunities. 

“In general, they are considered affordable treats and as many can be tailored to fit an attractive retail price point, the upsell potential can be leveraged by many foodservice and food retail operators.”

Heather added: “Offering customers something a little different can be the key for outlets to ensure they maximise on ice cream sales during summertime and creating tempting home-made options could offer the solution.”

What products can businesses add to their menu to make sure they are keeping up with consumer trends?

When it comes to flavours, the general consensus is that it is important businesses continue to offer the ‘old favourites’, while also catering for the more adventurous.

Christina said: “With regards to flavours, it is important that you include the three most popular; strawberry, vanilla and chocolate, but a winning ice cream offering should also feature at least seven or eight other options to entice the more adventurous.”

Christina says New Forest Ice Cream aims to cater for this market with its Lotus Caramelised Biscoff, Jaffa Cake, Salted Caramel, Oriental Ginger, Liquorice and Gin & Pink Grapefruit ice creams.

Heather backed up the view that people were looking for something a little different. She said: “While traditional flavours such as vanilla, strawberry and chocolate will always be popular, consumer tastes are becoming increasingly sophisticated with the market seeing a real appetite for new and innovative flavour combinations.”

However, Rebecca revealed that consumers were yearning for flavours from the past.

She said: “This summer we see the ice cream sector returning to the favourite flavours of yesteryear with consumers becoming nostalgic for the tastes that conjure up memories of happy times at home and on holiday. 

“Indicators for 2016 are already pointing towards an increased demand for familiar flavours with a modern twist.

“Nostalgia is very much the mood of the moment, with many consumers now rejecting the more unusual and gimmicky flavours in favour of those that remind them of days gone by.  Authentic flavours are definitely back in fashion but quality, provenance and value for money are equally important.”

Mike added: “Ever since the Mr Whippy era, many Brits have had a soft spot for the soft scoop, however, with premium ice-cream sales increasing by 17% in recent years, luxury ice cream is now worth an estimated £443m. It is now, that quick service operators need to capitalise upon this ever expanding and changing sector to boost sales.”

Michele was keen to highlight the growing popularity of frozen yogurt.

She said: “There has been a notable increase in purchase and consumption of frozen yoghurt desserts, due somewhat to an overall increased awareness of and desire for healthier eating. 

“People feel the need to eat more ‘better for you’ foods, and yoghurt in general is one of those products known to offer various digestive and health benefits.

“The general retail frozen yoghurt market is now estimated to be worth over £13m in the UK, having tripled in the last 3 years,  thanks to the growth in retail sales and overall awareness of frozen yoghurt and this increased consumer demand for healthier products.”

Guy said that businesses can stand out by making their ice cream themselves. He said: “The ability to create a range of tasty and fresh dessert offerings can make a huge difference for outlets looking to take full advantage of the summer months.

“Producing these offerings in-house also allows operators to provide for specific dietary requirements, such as dairy-free offerings.

“For those operators looking to provide a wider range of ice cream offerings, providing fun and tasty summer treats can make an outlet stand out.”

Heather agreed. She said: “Making ice cream in-house gives operators the freedom to create new and exciting flavours.

“It also gives customers a real point of difference and can really enhance the perceived value of an outlet’s menu; whilst also justifying a higher price point.

“Creating an ice cream flavour of the week can be a great idea to help boost sales during peak summer months and having the freedom to create their own new flavours gives outlets a real opportunity to get creative by offering something quirky and unique – how about chilli and chocolate or popcorn flavour perhaps?”

Scott Duncan added: “Offering a quality selection of homemade ice cream will help your establishment stand out from those who buy in ready-made alternatives.

“Outlets looking for a unique selling point to increase sales during the competitive summer months should also consider offering milkshakes as well as soft serve ice cream on their menus.

“When first introduced to menus, offering a special ‘shake of the day’ or week at a special reduced price can help to raise awareness of the introduction of milk shakes as well as help to boost sales.

“As milk shakes are often considered to be additional purchases by customers, one way outlets could overcome this is to offer shakes with other snacks as part of a special-priced meal deal comprising of a sandwich or baguette and milkshake.”

How important are ice cream and frozen desserts to the quick service restaurant /food-to-go market and why?

When it comes to the importance of ice creams and frozen desserts to the food-to-go and quick service restaurants, our industry experts were quick to highlight how the sweet treats can tempt diners to spend a little bit more. 

Mike said: “According to food research analysts, Mintel, the UK’s ice cream, sorbet and frozen yogurt market has grown by 19% in the past five years. Combine this with the fact that diners are starting to spend more on desserts, the ice cream and dessert category represents an excellent opportunity for operators to drive sales this summer.”

Christina said: “The ice cream and frozen dessert market offers caterers the opportunity to increase the average spend per head while also satisfying the customers’ craving for something sweet, whether that be after a delicious meal or to enjoy on the go.

“As with the variety demanded across the rest of the menu, the key to maximising on the sales opportunity presented by desserts is to ensure customers can choose from a number of different flavours and styles, including ice cream and sorbet to cater for a range of tastes.

“When it comes to the provision of ice cream, the decision should be made as to whether a caterer is going to buy-in readymade ice cream or produce its own in house.

“By purchasing readymade ice cream, operators can ensure consistency, while purchasing from a renowned manufacturer ensures only the finest ingredients are used, and with the choice of flavours and varieties available continues to grow to meet demand, ice cream offers the perfect solution for those with a sweet tooth.

“Not over filling, yet refreshing, vibrant and capable of satisfying the cravings of both adults and children alike, ice cream provides a cost effective treat and offers excellent margins for the operator.”

Michele said: “Despite the economic crisis of previous years, consumers’ habits did not change dramatically when it comes to ice cream, frozen yoghurt or frozen desserts. 

“Whilst they may have had to cut back and reduce purchase frequency to save money, there has been a tendency in the desserts’ sector to increase spend by trading up to luxury variants instead of trading down.

“This proves that consumers are also willing to pay more for quality products occasionally.

“Most frozen yoghurt products can be sold in a pot of various sizes, with or without toppings and are perfect for ‘on the go’ snacking. 

“Quick snack options are a necessity for today’s busy lifestyles and there are endless solutions for customers to grab a quick bite to fill the hunger gap.

“Frozen yogurt products in particular have universal appeal when marketed correctly.  Kids love all the excitement of choosing from different toppings, adults and the elderly love traditional flavours.  Whilst women are often known to be more ‘conscious of what they are eating’, being able to offer frozen yogurt already gives them a healthy base product to add their favourite topping to.”

What products can businesses add to their menu to make sure they are keeping up with consumer trends?

Rob said: “The best way for operators to keep up with consumer trends is to produce ice creams and sorbets on site. Ice cream and sorbet machines are becoming increasingly popular and are easy-to-use.

“Creating specialist ice creams or sorbets on site can offer a point of difference to QSR and food-to-go venues and enable operators to adapt flavours to suit customer demand and to create signature flavours or dishes.”

Having previously highlighted the growing demand for flavours from yesteryear, Rebecca added that Suncream had launched three new luxury Italian-style Gelato Gold ice creams - lemon curd meringue, bubblegum & marshmallow and clotted cream - which are all made in a nut-free environment using a recipe which is suitable for vegetarians and those seeking a gluten-free product.

She said: “We expect these new ice creams to be particularly popular this summer as they are bang on trend in terms of flavour. 

“If you invest time in developing your ice cream menu, there are some great opportunities out there to build sales. 

“Make sure that it appeals to consumer tastes and lifestyles but also that it is realistically achievable within budget constraints.

“Great quality at an attractive price is a key driver within the sector but equally, don’t be afraid to push the boundaries by introducing new or unusual flavours.  Stock as many flavours as is economically viable but consider the practicalities - the greater your range, the more freezer space you’ll need.”

Like Suncream, New Forest Ice Cream also specific flavours that are more popular with different generations.

Christina said: “While our scooped ice cream range is universally liked, there are specific flavours that are more popular with different generations.  For example, the Bubblegum flavour or our Strawberry Spilt or Orange Lolly is a massive hit with our younger audience, whilst our more mature customers are more likely to go for something like Liquorice or Peach Bellini. Sorbets are again targeted at adults with flavours such as Sambuca and Champagne.”

However, Mike suggests that ice creams with a mix of old and new flavours are growing in popularity.

He said: “Recently, we discovered that when it comes to making serious profit margins in the ice cream industry, it is all about creating unusual and imaginative flavours - a ‘dessert with a difference’.

“One key trend that has emerged from our research is a fusion of old and new – ice cream with an alcoholic or ‘faux-alcoholic’ twist.  In northern outlets, ‘stout’ in particular is finding increasing popularity, while southern consumers enjoy a fruitier ‘Rum and Raisin’ and ‘Amaretti Amaretto’. It is extremely important to understand your consumers and cater for their various taste choices.  Be imaginative and creative in your menus with the marriage of flavours and create real serving appeal.

“However, that’s not to say traditional flavours aren’t still an important staple for operators – a great vanilla ice cream can be excellent! What really counts and aids the bottom line is the overall quality of the product.”

Michele, highlighted the need for quick service restaurants to consider both luxury and health when choosing the products on their menus.

She said: “The desserts category can be polarised by those seeking pure indulgence and luxury versus those looking for a healthy or guilt-free treat.

“Frozen yoghurt desserts can satisfy both ends of the scale by being the base product that can be customised by the consumer to suit their need-state. 

“Fresh fruit and granolas, for example, offer a more satisfying healthier angle but chocolate, confectionery and other funky toppings are also perfect for those seeking to satisfy their cravings for all things sweet. 

“Frozen yoghurt is also a great base for milkshakes, smoothies and other frozen drinks which are becoming more and more popular especially in the food-to-go sector.

“The trend towards ‘free from’ can also be addressed with frozen yoghurt being a gluten-free option. 

“Over the past years, there has been a rise in products such as dairy-free ice cream and frozen yoghurts. The former targets consumers who are lactose-intolerant or follow diets that restrict dairy intake.”

What products are available to ensure ice cream and frozen desserts are presented at their best and how do you choose what’s right for your business?

When it comes to presentation, choosing the crockery with care was the advice from our experts.
Michele said: “This is probably the one sector where you can really have some fun with merchandising and presentation.  Traditional crockery and glassware for ice cream/frozen yoghurt desserts can range in size and shape and even colour, making a lasting impression on consumers. In some outlets, the presentation of items can really create visual appeal and attract impulse purchase. 

“Some outlets that sell our Coolberry Café frozen yoghurt have chosen to brand their soft serve machines and site them in a self-serve area.  The colourful machine, is in itself an attraction for purchase.”

Rebecca added: “Plate appeal is key to satisfying the temptation factor so you need to take care with the presentation of ice cream and frozen desserts.

“Choose your crockery with care and make sure it complements the colour of the ice cream and size of the portion.  Present it on a beautiful plate instead of in bowls or high-sided dishes which can squash the ice cream scoops, and decorate it tastefully with top quality ingredients. 

“You could also try serving a tasting platter of different flavoured ice creams in shot glasses - mini portions will encourage your customers to treat themselves without over-indulging! 

“Attractive presentation is also vital if you are to encourage spontaneous ‘to go’ sales of scooping ice cream.  Make sure your freezer cabinets are kept spotlessly clean and well stocked at all times as the ice cream needs to be kept in optimum conditions and displayed attractively if you are to capture those impulse purchases.”

Mike agreed: “It would be a crime to let super-premium ice cream that tastes this good be served in any old glass or traditional bowl.  Opting for cocktail glasses for example, with a long stem, which allows the temperature of the ice cream to remain unaffected whilst the drink is being held and also gives off a stylish aura. Additional items such as fresh fruit, peel, chocolate or sparklers top off the impressive appearance.”

Rebecca was also keen to point out that storing ice cream correctly was important as temperature abuse can affect the quality of the product.

To keep ice cream in optimum condition she advised these five easy steps:

• Only take the product out of the freezer just before it needs to be served – keeping your freezer at -18 C should enable the product to be scooped straight from the freezer.

• Keep the lid on if you are leaving it outside the freezer for any length of time – not only does it help with retaining the temperature but it keeps foreign bodies out!

• Return the ice cream to freezer as quickly as possible as air comes out of it when it begins to defrost, making the product both icy and hard to scoop when it needs to be used the next time

• Always keep ice cream below the fill level of the freezer – this is often missed and absolutely key – if not the temperature abuse happens slowly over time affecting the mouth feel and appearance.

• In a scooping freezer ensure the lids are put back on the tubs overnight - It is a milk based product.

She added: “You also need to be clear on food intolerances and allergens – our ice creams are made in a nut free environment and the majority are gluten-free, egg-free and suitable for vegetarians – and talk to your supplier about the type of point of sale material that’s available, as that will help communicate what’s available in your establishment.”

What does the future hold in regard to ice cream and frozen dessert flavour trends?

Michele said: “The sector has been growing consistently, with growth coming from the premium sector of the market, and it is anticipated that double-digit growth will continue over the coming years. Any fall in purchase frequency would likely be offset by the demand for premium and luxury products.

“There is always plenty of innovation in the ice cream and frozen desserts market, which generates a great deal of excitement into the category and grabs the attention of experimental ‘foodie’ consumers who are keen to try new things.

“Sweet and salty flavours (as seen in the bakery market), sharp, bold flavours and even savoury flavours are all likely attract interest in the future.”

Rebecca said: “We’re currently developing a cookies & cream flavour. Our research shows that this flavour combination is a consumer favourite. Fruit based flavours are also always popular.”

Christina added: “Ice cream is one purchase that customers are happy to spend that little bit extra on if they are aware that they are eating something that offers a wonderful flavour and quality from a reputable brand.

“This is something that is more than evident following the recent recession when the sales of ice cream continued to increase despite the economic situation faced by the nation.

“In the summer months, the areas that do sell a large amount of ice cream tend to be places that may attract visitors such as tourist attractions and locations for days out.

“For example seaside resorts, parks, and attractions such as zoo’s, farms and theme parks, however many other quick service restaurants and grab-an-go businesses can still benefit from significant sales year round, a trend which we expect will only continue to grow.”

So, whatever the weather, and the economic climate, it seems consumers will always be sweet on ending their meal with an ice cream or frozen dessert.

And while the trio of vanilla, chocolate and strawberry retain their popularity, there is a growing demand for luxury and nostalgic flavours.

Friday, 1st July, 2016
We find out why street food remains an attractive market

Street Food

With more and more people leading increasing busy lives, the need for consumers to be able to pick up something to eat quickly and easily has never been greater. This, coupled with the growing demand for flavours from around the world, has seen the popularity of street food continue to rocket.

As new concepts pop up all the time, we find out why street food remains an attractive market to consumers. We also take a look at what formats have been a success and find out what equipment is needed to set up your own street food business.


Leon Mills, Knorr Marketing Manager, Unilever Food Solutions; Nick Pagett, Managing Director, Mom’s Fabulous Foods; Rhodri Morgan, Hellman’s Marketing Manager, Unilever Food Solutions; Mike Clarke, Director, It’s A Wrap; Jessica Lalor, Brand Development Manager, Kerrymaid; Eimear Owens, Country Sales Manager for UK and Ireland, Santa Maria Foodservice; Richard Jensen, Managing Director, Pan’Artisan; James Circuit, Development Chef, Major International; James Sharp, Director, Business on Bikes; Gary Johnson, Commercial Director, GRH Ltd, Kevan Vetter, Executive Chef, McCormick Flavour Solutions and Mohammed Essa, Aviko General Manager UK & Ireland.

Why is street food so popular among consumers?

When it comes to eating on the go, you can’t beat the food readily available on the streets in our town and cities.

With plenty of choice, it’s no wonder 2.5 billion people worldwide consume street food on a daily basis.

Gary Johnson said: “Street food is convenient, it’s trendy, you can get it on demand and there are so many different flavours and menus for people to choose from.

“Street food vendors are there when you need them and there are so many great foods options that are now on offer as street food.”

James Circuit agreed. He said: “Quick and satisfying, not only in terms of consumer taste buds but in terms of our time and budgets, street food ticks all the right boxes for our increasingly busy lifestyles.”

Leon Mills added: “Quickly served, handheld food in a wide range of ever-changing international flavours makes street food a powerful force for consumer choice when it comes to eating out.

“Little wonder that it’s the second fastest growing segment of the out of home market, with a predicted average turnover growth of 16 per cent between 2016 and 2018.”

Nick Pagett added: “Due to time and budget limitations, bite-sized products and services are now more appealing.

“The food to go market remains as popular as ever, with a great increase in the number of people eating breakfast out of home, and 81% of consumers choosing to eat street food for lunch according to a recent survey.

“Good quality street food will continue to be a trending opportunity at present and in coming years.”

James Sharp agreed that the quality of street food now on offer was an important factor in the popularity of the concept.

He said: “Street food is so popular because of the ease and simplicity, while people getting much better quality rather than eating at big chains.”

Eimear Owens shared this view. She said: “Our research shows that consumers view street food as restaurant quality outside the restaurant, and attach an added value to food purchased from street food vendors.

“The average lunchtime spend in London is around the £5 mark. Insight from our Street Food Report found that 64% of people spend £5 or over on street food, yet 61% feel they are spending less than their normal lunchtime spend.

“This shows that consumers don’t mind paying a premium price, as they are not only paying for their food but for the street food experience as a whole.

“This includes the variety of choice street food offers, the theatre of watching your meal being prepared right in front of your eyes, the passion of street food vendors and the ability to support small and local businesses.

“And the street food bubble isn’t about to burst anytime soon. Forty-seven per cent of consumers plan to eat more street food than they already do.”

Richard Jensen added: “Street food offers great convenience for busy consumers wanting a quick serve, portable meal choice that’s relatively low cost.

“This rise in flavour has seen mobile street food catering outfits take hold across the UK, the growing volume of street food vendors has had a positive effect on pushing up the quality and authenticity of the food offering, providing great choice and variety for the consumer, via an increasingly in-demand, all-day, on-the-go dining scenario.”

What are the latest flavour trends in the street food market?

Mohammed Essa said: “Consumers are looking for an extra taste kick when eating out-of-home. Our research found that 56% of people say they want to see more spicy options on menus – which works well in the street food sector.

“Not only that, almost half (44%) are willing to pay a premium for a side dish that offers a kick, which means there’s a clear profit opportunity available to those vendors that deliver on this demand.

“When it comes to spice, almost half (48%) favour piri piri, while a further 63% would choose potato wedges as their spicy side – a dish that suits the street food market thanks to its hand-held appeal.

“For operators looking to spice up their street food menus, Aviko has recently launched new Piri Piri Wedges, helping meet the consumer demand for sides with a kick.

“Ready from frozen in as little as three minutes, Aviko’s Piri Piri Wedges offer a speedy option to enhance a host of street food favourites without putting any additional strain on the catering team.”

McCormick is another company that studies flavour trends, even compiling its own ‘Flavour Forecast’.

Kevan Vetter said: “Since its inception in 2000, Flavour Forecast has been tracking the growing interest in heat and identifying upcoming spicy flavours including chipotle, peri-peri and harissa.

“Our latest report shows the next wave of this trend is complemented by tang. Look for Southeast Asian sambal sauce powered by chillies, rice vinegar and garlic to take kitchens by storm.”

Eimear added: “Research from Santa Maria’s Street Food Report found that the top five most popular street food cuisines are Mexican, Chinese, Thai, Indian and British.”

James Circuit pointed out that there was a growing demand for Mexican ‘mash-ups’. He said: “This year is all about the mashing up of Mexican. 

“From Mexican/Indian to Mexican/Moroccan combinations, new takes on burritos and tacos are right up there on the top of consumer hot-lists. 

“A traditional beef taco or a burrito infused with an international mari-base such as Major Oriental or Bombay, are instant on-trend street-worthy dishes. Or to go a step further even, switching the taco itself for an Indian Chapatti, is very street right now.”

Gary said: “The Oriental, spicy and wholesome foods that are on offer from some street food vendors are as good as you would find in many an established take away or restaurant at times.”

In terms of the hot dog, Nick highlighted how Mom’s are bringing something exciting in this market, with the premium range of Mom’s Rosti Dog - gourmet hot dogs wrapped in delicious crispy potato.

Made using only the finest ingredients, Mom’s Rosti Dog range offers Mom’s Original Rosti Dog; a hot dog made with prime pork, wrapped in crispy and golden potato, Mom’s Breakfast Rosti Dog, especially made for British breakfast market, with scrambled egg, bacon and mushroom; Mom’s Chilli Cheese Rosti Dog; a hot dog with fresh chilli and cheese for a sensational kick and Mom’s Veggie Rosti Dog; filled with delicious cream cheese and spicy jalapenos, a great addition to vegetarian range on the market. All of these delicious Rosti Dogs are gluten free and a perfect handheld snack.

Nick said: “The rise of street food consumption has opened the door to a world of hot dog dining options.

“Mom’s has seen unprecedented growth in this market with our varied range. The birth of mom’s Rosti Dog provides a popular option to the street food market offerings.”

Another food that lends itself to the street food market, is burgers. 

Rhodri Morgan said: “We’re witnessing a burger boom at the moment. In 2015, 12.9% of lunches/dinners eaten out involved a burger.

“They require minimal equipment and provide a blank canvas for street food vendors to unleash their creativity on, so it’s no surprise that burgers have and continue to be a success for street food vendors.

“Burgers are easy to customise too – and we know consumers like to have choice.

“Our research shows 45% of consumers like to add bacon to their burger. And when it comes to dressings and condiments, mayonnaise comes out on top with 47% of consumers saying they want either mayonnaise or garlic mayonnaise in their ultimate burger, compared to 45% who want ketchup.”

“Street food is leading the way when it comes to fresh burger ideas – and there are so many great burgers out there.”

Jessica Lalor agreed and urged businesses serving burgers to embrace new flavour trends.

She said: “As burgers remain one of the best loved and most popular out of home menu choices it is important for operators to acknowledge new burger trends.

“When it comes to burger seasonings there is a clear shift away from more traditional flavours. Instead ethnic influences are starting to make an appearance on street food menus.

“While smoked flavours such as rich BBQ remain on trend, hot and spicy seasonings are coming into their own with sriracha (chilli peppers, garlic, sugar and salt) and harrissa (roasted red peppers, fresh coriander, caraway seeds and garlic) pastes complementing consumer demand for spicy seasoned burgers. 

“Although, these new trends are increasingly popular, consumers still want to have a traditional topping of cheese on their burgers.”

However, Jessica was keen to emphasise the popularity of other cuisines.

She said: “As the second most popular cuisine in Britain, caterers are looking to add Indian street food dishes to menus. These include speciality curries and dhals.

“Mexican dishes are also ideal for the grab-and-go category. Dishes including burritos, tortillas and Mexican-style paella are inspiring many street food offerings.”

Jessica also highlighted the popularity of Italian cuisine.

She said: “As the market for Italian food continues to be one of the biggest in the UK, operators will also look at serving Italian handheld dishes, particularly pizza.”

What equipment is necessary for setting up a street food business?

According to James Sharp, the most important piece of equipment it an outlet to sell your food from that will attract customers.

He said: “You need an outlet to sell your food from that catches the eye and stands out from the competition – like a bike.”

Nick said: “The image of ‘fast food’ is morphing into a new concept of ‘good food served fast’. Offering up good quality, filling, handheld food at lunch and breakfast time can help attract new business.

“The challenge for caterers is serving high volumes in a short space of time.

“Mom’s has just the solutions for it, by offering a range of customise-designed hot dog serving equipment, including the eye-catching, retro-style Hot Dog Carts, compact footprint Retail Steamer, various sized Quick Serve Warmers and practical Bain Maries to suit all catering scenarios from small to large volume users.

“The new Mom’s Topping Stations and Sauce Stations are specially designed to hold Mom’s Fabulous Sauces and your favourite toppings. These compact and practical stainless steel accessories are a perfect way to keep countertops tidy.”

How can street food vendors ensure their businesses stand out from competitors?

Serving good quality food is a vital part of ensuring your street food business stands out from the competition and our experts were keen to highlight this fact.

According to Mom’s Fabulous Hot Dogs, consumers are increasingly participating in a growing food culture focused on high-quality gourmet experiences and unique dishes.

The company believes that smart caterers should look to gourmet fast food for inspiration and maximise mealtime trade to cater for current market trend.

Despite street food being fashionable all over the world, Mom’s believes that in a country that demands high standards, street food has to be fast food with a twist - gourmet food.

Nick said: “People in the UK demand quality. It’s important to get it right.”

So, How do Mom’s stand out?

Nick said: “Mom’s Fabulous Hot Dogs differ from the old soft textured hot dogs that have little consumer confidence.  Mom’s has set about changing the perception of a hot dog by introducing a range of meaty products with different flavours, textures and by using superior meat standards.

“Our quality assurance is always a big part of keeping ahead and differentiating from others. We want eaters to have the perfect gourmet experience.”

James Circuit added: “Having a simple yet innovative idea or theme concept can help you stand out a mile.

“One type of cuisine done well but with a twist - such as Mexican, or even a recipe such as a taco or burrito - can be a winning combination.”

Encouraging brand loyalty is also an important consideration for street food vendors and Mike Clarke was keen to highlight how simple this is to do.

He said: “Street food is continually growing and we see numerous new businesses setting up every week, we get requests for branded greaseproof paper every day and our product ‘It’s a Wrap’ is the ideal solution for the majority of street vendors.

“We consider it imperative that the customer eating the food becomes accustomed and loyal to the brand, and reinforcing this with branded greaseproof paper is such an easy way of achieving this.

“Including information on the greaseproof paper like Facebook and twitter accounts is a great way for the customer to interact with the vendor and being quirky with the design always helps.”

James Sharp added: “You need to provide something different, whether that be a bike as a stand to sell your products from, interesting flavours, or a modern twist on an old recipe.” 

Gary highlighted the importance of reinvention when it comes ensuring your street food fare is in line with trends and your business is ahead any competitors.

He said: “Innovation and reinvention of meal combinations are very important if vendors want to stay ahead of their competitors.

“You need to excite the consumer and draw in the passer-by with exciting, imaginative flavours.”

What developments have been made in terms of the packaging of street food products?

The general consensus among our industry experts is that any street food packaging should be practical and ensure the fare remains fresh.

Nick said: “Street food packaging should be responding to the increasing demand for small, disposable and easily transportable packaging designs, by producing more versatile and creative solutions.

“According to the Packaging Technology and Integrated Solutions Report 2016, ‘over 80% of consumers feel that packaging should keep products fresh and prefer products sold in packaging that can be easily opened and closed without the use of scissors or other tools’. The report went on to say that ‘flexible packaging is now the second-most popular form of packaging amongst new products, while pouches and sachets have experienced the biggest growth in the market. It is also an area where new shapes and closures are combining to make some unique packaging’.

“Mom’s branding and packaging is vibrant, and eye-catching, and consists of several clever design elements to offer good level of practicality to their consumers.

Mike added: “Customers need something that can be practical, cost effective and tick all the right ‘Green’ boxes. Packaging must be fit for purpose and a lot of street food vendors prepare foods for eating on the go.

“Greaseproof paper remains one of the main products for accomplishing all of these goals, with the added benefit of the food maintaining its flavour, aroma and appearance as the paper allows the foodstuffs to breathe, yet providing a grease barrier.

“We have mentioned before the importance of being biodegradable and it is still a big request from the majority of our customers. It’s a Wrap’s natural greaseproof paper once again achieves this.

“Being affordable is crucial and manufacturing from only 1,000 sheets, our greaseproof papers are probably the most cost effective way of packaging any street food products, unless it is soup.”

What does the future hold for the street food market?

“Hopefully, it will keep expanding,” James Sharp said. “Hopefully we will see street food outlets in all towns and cities to rival the average chain shops, so we have a variety of food available at all times.”

James Circuit was quick to tackle the issue of flavours that diners should be able to enjoy in the future.

He said: “Old world flavours with a twist are definitely on the horizons for street food. Riding off the back of the Pan-Asian wave, Korean, Japanese, Southeast Asian as well as Middle Eastern and Persian are definitely here to stay, fuse and new combos will take over streets.”

Mohammed said: “When it comes to street food menus, operators tend to focus their attention on how they can differentiate their meat, fish or chicken, but what they often don’t consider is the huge opportunity there is to generate extra sales by offering alternative sides too.

“With our new Piri Piri Wedges, operators can capitalise on one of the biggest flavour trends in foodservice without any prepping or seasoning required - essential when dealing with restricted space – and are guaranteed a high quality, consistent product that’s also versatile.

“Hand-held snacks will always be popular in the street food market but operators can refresh their menus with twists on traditional favourites. Hash Brown Bites for example, are a super-crunchy twist on standard hash browns that have been designed to hold their crunch for longer. They’re also prepared in sunflower oil and are low in salt, making them a healthier choice.

“Aviko’s own research shows that hash browns are now the third biggest breakfast item in pubs and restaurants so street food operators could be missing a trick if they fail to offer the popular side that is also perfect as a snack.”

Nick added: “As consumers become more exposed to the high quality and adventurous food at affordable price, their expectations of food will constantly rise and consumer demands will stimulate market growth.”

He pointed to a report from Economic Trends and Consumer Lifestyle early this year that revealed that ‘the way we eat is undergoing significant change. The convergence of two major lifestyle trends is having a significant impact on the way we approach food: the trend towards gourmet, and the trend away from cooking, through lack of skill, time and/or inclination’.

The reports continues, ‘dramatic changes in lifestyles, eating patterns, and demographics are creating new rules for marketing and packaging and are motivating new food product purchases. The uniqueness of and motivation for each specific snack and mini-meal occasion represent a new series of exciting market differentiators for the explosive snack and on-the-go meal sector’.

The view that people’s expectations of street food have grown and consumers are increasing looking for high quality, gourmet fare was shared by Gary. 

He said: “There is a growing market for gastro street food with a twist, or outlets with a deli feel, look and appeal.”

Jessica shared the opinion that consumers were becoming more adventurous, as well as the highlighting the rise in popularity of superfoods.

She said:  “Operators should expect to see a rise in the popularity of new and unique flavours for pizza toppings.

“Stocking superfoods such as kale and sweet potato will be beneficial.

“Moroccan and Caribbean flavours are also becoming increasingly popular and using courgettes and aubergine to accompany authentic African spices will add a unique stance to the street food menu.”

In conclusion, it seems consumers are looking to add a little spice to their street food, as Mexican, Korean, Japanese, Southeast Asian and Middle Eastern flavours grow in popularity.

However, there still seems to be space for the old favourites, with burgers, hot dogs, pizzas and Indian food retaining their appeal, be it with some little twists.

There is also a growing demand for gourmet street food, which means outlets will have to up their game if they want to stay ahead of the competition.

Friday, 1st July, 2016
Getting promotional signage right brings customers in

Promotional Signage

The food-to-go and quick service restaurant industry is hugely competitive. To stand out from the opposition, businesses need to consider how they promote themselves and their external appearance. Get this right and you could be on to a winner.

How to attract customers is one of the most, if not the most, important factors food-to-go and quick service restaurants have to consider.

Ensuring your external appearance, as well as your internal appearance, is vital.

However, getting your promotional signage right, could be the difference between getting diners through your doors and watching them walk on by.

In this feature, we find out how food-to-go and quick service restaurants can get ahead of the game when it comes to enticing customers.


Chloe Brigden, Marketing Executive, Signwaves and Stuart Buchanan, Operations Director, Zapper; Adrian Kingsland, Business Development Director, Tullford Point of Sale and Beccy Eve, Group Marketing Manager, Proxama.

Why is promotional signage important to food-to-go/quick service restaurants?

In business it’s always important to stand out from your rivals and that is no different in the food industry.

Adrian Tullford said: “Food-to-go is very often an Impulse purchase decision – any promotional or point of sale signage, needs to be instantly appetising, exciting and designed primarily to build awareness and to drive quick decision making or promote greater foot fall in-store.”

Chloe Brigden added: “Competition is tough in the food and drink industry and it is difficult for chains to stand out from surrounding trade.

“Many are upping their game, focusing heavily on improving their instore services and presence. However, stores should be placing as much efforts into their external appearance as they do internal.

“Customers are swayed by a number of influences that are established from the first glance of a store. This includes; menu, atmosphere, price and persona. All of which can be communicated effortlessly by simple yet strategic promotional signage and displays.

“By integrating a brands colours, logo and character into its promotional display gives customers a quick overview of the service offered and whether it meets their needs.  It also serves well as an effortless communication tool for customers not willing to enter a store and speak to staff members.

“Promotional signage is also perfect for influencing sporadic purchasing; for instance, did you know that 40% of consumer spending involves an impulse sale? With 14% of that being on food and drink items. Using point of sale to promote new menus and offers is a great way to interact with these types of shoppers.”

And more food-to-go and quick service restaurants are taking advantages of digital technology, but what are the advantages of this type of signage?

Stuart Buchanan said: “It’s a great way to quickly and simply advertise to customers about new products.”

How can a business ensure its signage stands out from its rivals?

According to Stuart, if you can get your message into people’s heads you’re signs doing their job.
He said: “Signage has to be meaningful, personalised, colourful, simple and stay at the front of people’s minds.”

Adrian added: “Creating engaging and eye-catching standout signage is challenging, especially given all the visual noise on our high streets and in-store – powerful graphics help, along with the use of simple messages/offers.

“Combined build quality on items such as illuminated menu boxes, A boards, pavement signs, café banner systems, all help to subconsciously build consumer trust and desire, ensuring your offers are seen, easily understood and stay looking fresh and relevant for as long as possible.”

Chloe was also keen to highlight the importance of the message you are trying to get across, as well as the positioning of your signage.

She said: “Your promotion is only as exciting as the energy you invest into it. Choosing a selection of signage to advertise your brand, but not really focussing on the message, tone and objective of each is often the first mistake to make in offline marketing.

“Where and when you advertise is key to attaining the exposure you are searching for.  Your sign must be in a place where it can gain obvious recognition, interaction and ultimate footfall.

“If you are using outdoor displays, keep in mind that they will be a 24/7 promotional channel for your brand, so where and how it will be viewed should be your first priority.

“The location of your indoor displays and signs are also vital. They must be within eye level to reach optimal attention, whilst fitting in with your stores theme.

“You must consider any obstructions that are effecting the overall objective of your promotion and always make staff aware of internal and external promotions.

Chloe also advised that businesses should keep an eye on the opposition in order to maintain an advantage.

She said: “Keeping ahead of competition can be the smartest move you make.  What colour scheme are they using for their current promotion? What message are they delivering? How do you differentiate from them? And how can your point of sale explain that? Pay attention to how competition is marketing their message, especially on their POS displays.”

What are the latest signage trends and how can businesses incorporate these products?

The use of digital signage is becoming more widespread and Stuart believes food-to-go and quick service restaurants can capitalise on the opportunities new technology brings.

With Zapper leading the way in this department, He said: “One of the latest trends is electronic point of sale tablets – tablets that display moving adverts for deals, offers, menu updates whilst items are going through the till. The tablets can then display QR codes when payments are being processed.”

However, with the summer in full swing, Chloe advised that business should how best to catch the eye of people looking to eat al fresco.

She said: “For cafés and restaurants that have outdoor seating areas, promotional signage is crucial, especially throughout the summer season.

“Key players are projecting signs and flags and café barriers.

“Due to their light-weight banner material, and free movement with the wind – Flags are able to create maximum impact at minimum cost.

“Their ability to add height to your promotion also means that they draw automatic attention from oncoming footfall whilst dominating the surroundings.

“The food and drink industry tend to opt for large feather banners due to their impact. However, flange signs are also becoming increasingly popular as they provide longstanding ownership of buildings all year round.

“Flange signs offer endless possibilities through different shapes and sizes. The flag itself is crafted from 2mm aircraft grade aluminium panels, complete with a white gloss powder coat finish – ideal for vinyl application. It’s longstanding order history with food-to-go brands such as Just Eat and Pukka Pies have entitled them as significant players in their product category.

“Café barriers also provide ownership and exclusivity to your outdoor area. By including a barrier between your store and surrounding high street gives shoppers a perceived break from the hustle and bustle of their current activities.

“Used largely by bars, pubs, cafes and restaurants, café banners are also perfect for extending your internal branding onto oncoming traffic.

“It is common to see the food and drink industry incorporate simple branding onto their café barriers, however choosing an efficient print supplier allows you to incorporate almost any printing capability to your banner.”

Adrian noted the rise in novelty-shaped signs. He said: “One of the latest trends is the use of large eye-catching POS, Costa Coffee and Lavazza coffee cups on garage forecourts, as well as giant Magnums and Twister lollies. These types of item are eye-catching; engaging; exciting and instantly recognisable ‘calls to action’.

“However, they are possibly not for every location, as they often require space, so they are excellent for ‘food to go’ locations like garage forecourts.

“Bow flags and giant flying banners are also good and are less expensive alternative.”

What considerations should be made before choosing what signage would work best for your business?

Stuart said: “You should consider the layout of your shop, your customers and the message that you want to get across.”

Chloe added: “There are many factors to consider before choosing what signage works best for your business.

“First and foremost, brands must define their overall objectives; whether they are trying to drive footfall to store, increase sales or enhance brand presence – brands must consider what displays will best communicate their core message.

“A thorough understanding of your target audience is key, promotional signage must capture the attention of both existing and potential customers while providing significant messages to entice in store.

“The size of your display is governed on a number of factors. First, how big is the message you are trying to communicate across? A note of caution, if you are looking to include a too much copy and graphics into your poster or print promotion, then you must consider how it will look on the display you have in mind.

“The size of your display is also dependent on the space you have in and outside of your store. Your displays wants to stand out to oncoming footfall without obstructing walkways or entrances to yours and surrounding stores. 

“Having exact measurements of floor space (both internal and external) will allow you to narrow down on the unit and possibly artwork chosen for your promotional signage.

“Are there any rules and regulations within your community that prevents you from exhibiting point of sale on your premises?  You can search online or contact your local council to find out whether there are any height or unit restrictions that will prevent you from displaying particular signs and displays.

“Cost and quality is another consideration to keep in mind.

“If you are expecting your display to last, then you must reflect on your supplier’s quality of materials.

“This point is vital for regions that expect a lot of rainfall and rough weather conditions, as well as stores that are planning on leaving their display out-of-store 24/7. 

“Key aspects to look out for are: the material of your poster cover sheet (PVC and UV protected covers prevents unsightly discolouring and marks), the stability of the display (make sure your unit has been wind-tunnel tested & is an appropriate weight) and lastly the quality of your frame (powder coated aluminium prevents rust and dent marks and serve a long external life).”

Adrian also raised the importance of ensuring you have permission to display your signage.

He said: “For external signage, you need to consider local planning rules and regulations - read Outdoor advertisements and signs: a guide for advertisers by the department for Communities and Local Government.

“Is the building yours? If not you may need to get the landlord’s permission to install or fit new signage.

“You must also think safety first. Is the signage fit for purpose? You must think about things like stability, whether a sign is a trip hazard (go for freestanding signage with a minimal footprint and a low centre of gravity), avoid finger trapping hinges and sharp corners.

“Prevailing weather can be another consideration especially in windy locations.

“Internal signage should be well, lit, informative, engaging and well designed, positioned and angled at the correct, height and distance to be easily read. A picture paints a thousand words – keep it simple, less is more.”

What future developments can we expect in the promotional signage market?

With the continuing advances in technology, promoting your business using mobile technology is becoming easier than ever and Stuart believe food-to-go and quick service restaurants will be able to take advantage of this to make their promotional messages more personalised.

He said: “Zapper has been developing technology which uses Bluetooth to send messages from venues to users with a 60m radius. It’s a great way of pushing alerts to people’s phones about daily deals, offers and events.”

And Adrian believes that promotional signage of the future could even take inspiration from the movies.

He said: “In the movie ‘Minority Report’ set in 2054, shops use iris recognition technology to identify and personalise greeting messages to their regular customers. This is a futuristic way of recalling personal details to better target offers in-store, in other words targeting personalised marketing.”

Could we see this type of promotional signage in the future?

Quite possibly, as technology is advancing at an amazing rate with the growing use of near field communication systems, as Beccy Eve explained: “At Proxama we have had great success with Beacon technology across a range of locations including buses, retail stores, museums, stadiums and shopping malls.

“The potential of context sensitive mobile engagement is clearly huge and our partners in the Out of Home (OOH) industry recognise this, enabling us to offer digital engagement on a bus, at the airport, in a taxi - all alongside traditional OOH advertising.

“This is perfect for brands wishing to deliver relevant, highly engaging content straight to consumer’s mobiles as they enter proximity hot spots, engage app users by adding contextualised engagement messaging and target consumers when in periods of high dwell time and in a mind-set to engage with their brand.”

So, the future looks bright for both traditional promotional signage and digital signage.

However, whichever type of promotional signage you choose for your business, possibly the most important factor you must consider is your message.

You must take consider your desired audience carefully and ensure the message on your signs captures the attention of both existing and potential customers.

Friday, 1st July, 2016
600,000 tonnes of food waste is thrown away in a single year

Waste management

With the hospitality industry being responsible for almost a million tonnes of food waste annually, finding an effective solution to this problem is a pressing issue, especially for quick service restaurants.

According to research by the Sustainable Restaurant Association, 600,000 tonnes of food waste is thrown away by quick service restaurants, pubs, restaurants and hotels in a single year.

With the not-for-profit organisation revealing that 75 per cent of food waste is avoidable, it is imperative that businesses take action.

Here we look at what quick services restaurants can do to ensure it has the right service provider, as well as exploring some of the products and services available to help you manage you waste effectively.

We speak to:

Chris Savage, General Manager, Biffa’s Poplars AD plant; Michael Taylor, Managing Director, Mitie and Karen Markey, Project Director, Waste Management, Mitie.

What is the best way to manage food waste?

When it comes to cutting what you waste, more is not always better when it comes to ordering food stock and portion size.

According to the Sustainable Restaurant Association, about a third of food waste is plate waste. Therefore it’s up to quick service restaurant managers to take action to reduce this.

Chris Savage said: “Ensuring effective stock level controls and a robust food ordering process is the first step in reducing the potential for food being wasted. Without these measures in place, over ordering is likely, leading to the disposal of food before it is even opened and used.

“Portion control is another important consideration as a lot of food waste from restaurants is actually created by the customer in the form of leftovers. Good portion control is a difficult balancing act, but it’s key to reducing waste. It’s a particular issue in buffet-type restaurants where the customers themselves control their portions and are encouraged to return time and again for refills.

“Following the implementation of effective stock and portion controls, the next area of focus needs to be putting processes and services in place to successfully capture the waste that is produced.

“Making waste management part of your staff induction process, ensuring adequate signage is in place and keeping your teams abreast of their performance are all key, as increasing volumes of food waste are now being sent to anaerobic digestion plants. Once there, it is converted back into energy, ultimately reducing the volumes of waste sent to landfill.”

Karen Markey agreed. She said: “Minimisation is the first instance, which is best achieved by managing the supply chain.  For larger volumes, the use of site driers would be useful, for example.”

According to Michael Taylor, restaurants should be segregating their waste to ensure it can be processed effectively.

He said: “We still waste a lot of food each year in the UK, whether it’s domestic or commercial. The main offenders according to the UK Government’s Waste and Resource Digest 2016, are restaurants, closely followed by pubs and hotels who don’t segregate their food waste as a regular practice. There have been counter measures taken in Scotland, where food businesses producing more than 50kg of food waste per week are now required to segregate it for collection; this legal requirement came into effect on January 1, 2014. This was followed by a 5kg segregation requirement for smaller, non-rural businesses in 2016.”

He suggested more information was needed on waste management. He said: “If catering and hospitality industries are not processing their food waste effectively, perhaps it is due to a lack of information as to what options are available.

What services are there in this area and how do you ensure they offer the best solution and support for your business?

Whatever a business does to limit its waste, there is always going to be some amount of food that has to be put in the bin. However, this doesn’t mean it has to end up in landfill pit

Chris said: “There is always going to be a degree of food waste that is not fit for human consumption and has to be disposed of. But that doesn’t mean it must go to landfill and appointing a good waste management provider who will seek ways to reduce, reuse and recycle waste is essential.

“Biffa sees food waste as a valuable resource and a good waste management provider will have the network, experience and the necessary facilities to unlock the potential of waste as a re-usable material and as a source of energy through the anaerobic digestion (AD) process.

“Anaerobic digestion is a treatment process for organic, biodegradable material, including waste food. The process utilises naturally occurring microorganisms already present in the waste to break it down in the absence of oxygen over a three week period, producing a fibrous ‘digestate’, similar to compost, and a methane rich ‘biogas’ used for the generation of renewable energy.

“AD technology can have a more positive impact on a business’ environmental footprint compared to the alternative landfill disposal route. It releases lower levels of CO2 and methane into the atmosphere, while producing renewable energy and a nutrient-rich fertiliser as a by-product in the process.

“The commercial benefits were less pronounced a few years ago when the cost of a food waste service was similar to that of disposing of general waste. However, increases in landfill tax have closed the gap and there are now demonstrable savings when sending food waste through the AD disposal route, which will only increase as greater AD capacity across the UK leads to more competition.”

Karen added: “Each client is looked at individually and bespoke solutions are carefully put in place for them, therefore the variations on service are many.”

Michael added: “Mitie’s waste business began a series of trials in August 2014 to January 2015 to determine which types of food waste disposal were the most effective, economically sound and environmentally friendly. Until now, there hasn’t been comparative data to illustrate what these options are.

“The trials were based on the normal daily rates of activity at four working catering and hospitality sites around the UK.  It was undertaken with whatever food waste was generated over the trial period. Three of the sites were working carveries with substantial poultry and meat waste. The fourth site produced varied food waste typical of a working restaurant with a varied menu.”

Mitie’s trials aimed to find ways of reducing the volume of food waste produced at each site, cut the cost of the waste disposal and demonstrate the resulting savings.

Michael said: “There were also ‘soft’ savings made, with long term benefits such as space saving at back-of-house areas, a reduction in pest attraction to the food waste, a cleaner environment with less noxious smells from rotting food, particularly in warm weather and the potential to turn the waste reduction into hot water to go back into the kitchen.

“Typical restaurant sites would normally dispose of their food waste into general refuse or segregated bins. This introduces problems like over-filling, contamination and on some occasions inadequate waste bin numbers if not managed properly on-site during busy periods. This results in rotting food attracting rodents and insects, causing unpleasant odours as it sits in the bins.”

Four food waste disposal technologies were tested that are designed to reduce volume, improve hygienic disposal and be friendly to the environment.

The results showed them all to be very effective due to their correct installation and management on site. Some methods performed better than others regarding efficiency or cost, while others were more suitable for particular waste streams and volumes.

Liquid aerobic digestion: A mixture of water and microbes breaks the food waste down by 87% of its original volume into grey water, which can be disposed of cleanly in the sewer system. This method cannot be used all over the UK - Scotland does not allow it. However, Mitie says it is the cheapest solution because there’s little waste to dispose of at the end of the process. The downside is that it requires using more water than usual, yet remains the least energy consuming.

Aerobic digestion: In the trials, this proved to be the method with the widest range of benefits with 73% of food waste volume reduction being reached. The process was clean, unobtrusive and cost competitive. While a low amount of electricity was required, the hard work was achieved by using a combination of microbes and bacteria to naturally break down food waste.

This method also allows for all types of food waste to be thrown in whole and even breaks down the majority of bone matter into a desiccated material to about one tenth of its original volume. Less bins are required, there are no transport and disposal costs and reduced refuse collection potential.

According to Mitie, the equipment required for aerobic digestion is easily installed on site and depending on volumes, is no bigger than a standard chest freezer. Simple solutions can be applied from other sources in the premises to dramatically reduce its running costs. Waste exhaust heat from cooker hoods of extract air can be diverted into an inlet on the digestion chamber for pre-heating to initiate the waste processing.

Aerobic digestion also allows for cross- application benefits to offset the (already low) energy costs. For example, if a boiler is attached to the digestion chamber, fuelled by a mixture of the inert food waste as a biomass fuel, with a moderate top up of wood pellets, it could heat a hotel pool and/or provide hot water to heat the hotel itself.

Dewatering: Pulps the food waste to reduce its volume by 60% and any risk of offensive smells. This replaces the use of macerators, which will be illegal UK-wide by 2018. When combined with centrifugal drying of the pulp to reduce moisture and volume by 81%, the pulp could then be used as a fertilizer in a kitchen garden should the premises have one.

Drying: This reduces food waste by 74% and turns it into a dry, inert substance resembling coffee grounds but smells a little like fruitcake! This soil-like end-product can be used as a biomass fuel or compost. Because it’s inert, it doesn’t attract pests. While the reduction of the food matter is substantial, drying uses a lot of electrical energy so may be a costlier option depending on the type and volume of waste being treated.

Michael said: “While each technology had some electrical or gas use requirement, their intake was carefully monitored and live consumption data fed back to show how much parasitic load (power consumption) each unit used.

“This included when the units were loaded or when they were operational or dormant. This data was key to explaining the performance efficiency of each waste disposal method for the trial.

“The majority of catering and hospitality businesses do not manage their food waste with any of the above methods. However, all of them can be easily and discreetly installed in situ and can be run at a fraction of the cost of less efficient alternatives. Their utilisation could eliminate having to pay landfill tax and generate additional revenue streams creating resource for your business - rather than just waste.”

What equipment is available to keep kitchens free from waste?

Chris said: “Kitchens are busy places with maximum space set aside for preparation and cooking and often minimal space for capturing waste – usually one or two containers are set aside for all waste, whether it’s recyclable or not.

“To avoid food waste being sent to landfill and instead sent for recycling to an anaerobic digestion (AD) plant, it needs to be fully segregated from all other waste and remain uncontaminated by other waste materials.

“Restaurants should ensure that all staff within the business have an understanding of how to dispose of waste correctly, separating food from other types of waste such as cardboard and metals, to ensure that the food waste can be recovered and sent to be processed via anaerobic digestion. 

“Biffa’s recent survey of food waste producers found that once staff were aware that food waste that isn’t fit for human consumption could be turned into renewable energy and valuable biofertilizers, via anaerobic digestion, they were more likely to dispose of it correctly and therefore diverting it away from landfill.”

What role does recycling play in waste management and what products are available to make the management of waste more green?

Karen said: “Recycling is a substantial part of waste management, but at Mitie we take a step even further by engaging at the earliest opportunities, even at the supplier stage, to minimise waste even coming into the chain.

“Prevention is key, it’s all about not producing waste in the first place. Then ask the question, is it resource not waste?  Where possible, we try to keep food waste in the food chain.

“It’s important to reuse materials rather than recycling them, where possible. For example, ask yourself, can plastic be shredded and then used as a composite to produce new products?

“The aforementioned technologies above are efficient in reducing volume. 

“Extracting as much raw product from waste prior to sending material for disposal is a two-fold benefit, as it maximises product and reduces waste.

“Reverse vending schemes that encourage recycling and supply vouchers for money off, or credits against your next purchase, are in use at various stores, and are great at persuading people to change their habits.

“Using schemes such as Fairshare or Neighbourly offers food to charities as a first option. The second option is de-packaging to aid the anaerobic digestion process.

“Ultimately it all comes down to changing our mind-set regarding waste and engage at every opportunity with both clients and the public, to send a clear message out to everyone involved.”

So, whether it’s a case of managing food orders and portion size better, or changing the way waste is disposed of, it’s clear to see that finding an effective solution is beneficial both in terms of saving money and helping the environment.

Wednesday, 8th June, 2016
We speak to experts to find the importance of fish and seafood

Fish & Seafood

Fish and seafood have always been staples on the menus of food-to-go and quick service restaurants. However, as the word has spread about their health benefits, the popularity has exploded.

We speak to experts in this sector to find out about the importance of fish and seafood, as well as learning about the best packaging and what the future holds for this popular product.

We speak to experts in this sector to find out about the importance of fish and seafood, as well as learning about the best packaging and what the future holds for this popular product.

We also aim to discover what’s available for foodservice and how to incorporate these key products into menus.

We hear from:

Sarah Cumber, Marketing Manager, Paramount 21, James Circuit, Development Chef, Major International, Simon Aspin, Commercial Director, Hubbard Systems, Joe Kendrick, Marketing Manager, T.Quality, Wayne Singleton, Owner, Tom and Simon’s Kitchen, Calum Richardson, The Bay Fish & Chips, Stonehaven, Aberdeenshire

What role does fish and seafood play in the Quick Service Restaurant / Takeaway market?

James Circuit believes the health benefits of fish and seafood are proving attractive to consumers, with people being drawn to the so-called ‘superfoods’.

He said: “With algae pipping Kale at the post as the top superfood and a nation bent on seeking out cleaner and healthier options for their grab-and-go, sustainable fish and seafood need to be an integral part of your offer.

James suggests that outlets tempt customers with light and trendy fare such as sushi rolls, Spanish piri-piri prawn tapas to go, or even use fish as the main protein boost to an Asian-infused salad.

Sarah Cumber highlights the rise in street food helping to push more fish and seafood on to mainstream menus.

She said: “Street food has certainly had a positive influence in terms of chefs using more fish and seafood, with dishes then finding their way on to more mainstream menus.

“Finger food formats, such as goujons, sprats, bites and scallops, also lend themselves to the quick service restaurant market and provide consumers with a quick and easy way into fish and seafood.”

What are the most popular products on the market at the moment?

Despite there being a staggering variety of fish and seafood for consumers to choose from, according to Sarah Cumber, people still can’t get enough of an old favourite. 

“Fish and chips remains the clear favourite,” she says. “Along with scampi, they are the core items on most menus in some format.”

Joe Kendrick agreed. He said: “Cod and haddock will always be popular products within the fish and chip trade, but the increase in our SeaPure Fishcakes and SeaPure Scampi has been significant, with consumers looking for something different on the takeaway menu.”

Sarah added: “The fish finger has retained its popularity, especially with the rise of the more contemporary offering of the fish finger sandwich.

“Additionally, old classics such as cockles and mussels are seeing a revival.”

Calum Richardson said: “Our fastest growing product on the menu is Amity Scampi. It’s peeled and doesn’t have a glaze. It’s all product and we bread it in batter ourselves to order.

He added: “It’s an exciting time of the year, because other fish like lemon sole is coming into season - they’re a good healthy size, so great to handle and cook with.”

But what about healthier options?

Sarah said: “Vibrant salad bowls can be topped with an array of fish and seafood, including salmon, tuna, seabass and prawns.”

How important is fish and seafood to the quick service restaurant market and why?

“Very,” insists Sarah, keen to highlight how more people are looking to cut down on the amount of meat they consume. “With diners choosing to eat less meat, fish is a fantastic addition to a healthy diet.”

And fish and seafood can feature at almost all positions on a menu.

Sarah said: “The versatility of fish and seafood products is perfect for most menu placements –starters, sharing plates, bar snacks, light bites, main courses… the list is endless.”

What products can businesses add to their menu to make sure they are keeping up with consumer trends?

James was quick to promote the virtues of Old World flavours, stating that the demand for this style of cuisine was showing no sign of slowing down this year.

He said: “Japanese, Korean or South East Asia, Pan-Asian broths and flavours marry incredibly well with the fish and seafood sector.

“With a good broth, a ramen-inspired dish is quick and simple for caterers to make.

“Not only is it visually impressive and delicious, but bang on consumer trends.”

However, Sarah said that when keeping up with consumer trends, it paid to turn up the heat.

“Current consumer trends are hot,” she said. “Chipotle and sriracha sauce are prevalent across menus in many formats. For fish and seafood dishes, dips with a dash of spice are very popular right now.

“You can also zing up a traditional fish and chips-style dish, or goujons, with a spicy on-trend sauce or dip.”

Sarah also said that quick service restaurants could tap into the casual, all-day dining market by offering different size portions to encourage dish trial. She said they could offer smaller portions of fish dishes as starters, sharing or as a side, rather than just as a centre plate commitment.

She added: “You could also serve fish and seafood with on-trend vegetables and vibrant salads for visual appeal and a contemporary touch.”

Joe was keen to praise the quality of his company’s own SeaPure range, saying: “The plaice, scampi and fishcakes from our SeaPure range are essentials on any menu to keep up the demand of consumers across the quick service and takeaway market.”

Wayne Singleton highlighted the importance of sustainability, both to businesses and diners.

He said: “We are a mobile operator that supplies just fish and chips to its customers and therefore believe that the quality and sustainability of the fish we use is of the utmost importance.

“I believe in the coming years we will need to shift more and more towards different types of fish that we use in the mainstay of our dishes, including the nations favourite of fish and chips.

“Cod and Haddock have had somewhat of a rocky past and will continue to do so until we can take the pressure off of these stocks by beginning to try new varieties of fish.

“I also believe that buying our fish from British fishermen will, in the long run, also mean that our waters remain plentiful, our fish sustainable and our favourite foods remain at a cheaper price.

“Education is the key to this going forward.

“We have tried several times to get people to taste different fish in blind taste tests and several times it has been Hake that has come out on top.

“However, when customers were offered this as a straight choice between Hake, Cod and Haddock, Hake barely ever got chosen.

“This is due to people being too used to what they know and not willing to try different fish types when there truly is plenty more fish in the sea.”

Calum also revealed that people are taking more and more interest into the origins of the food they eat. He said: “More than ever before I am noticing that customers are opting for local produce rather than choosing the cheapest option. This is due to the fact that they care about the journey their food has taken.”

Sarah also pointed out that it was not just what you served that was important, but how you describe it on your menu and present the food.

She said: “You must also consider how you serve the seafood – the colour and shape of the serving dishes/plates and how you describe the dish on the menu. This is, after all, the point at which diners actually make their choice!”

Calum also highlighted the fact that more fish and chip restaurants were moving with the times and taking advantage of the advances in technology to develop new ordering systems for customers.

He said: “I am currently helping to develop a new ordering system for the food and drink industry. In comparison to Just Eat for example, this new system is much more user-friendly as it’s not costing the business for every sale it makes through it. Instead, all it requires is a monthly rental of the equipment.”

To present fish at its best, what packaging is available to businesses?

When taking into consideration how people choose what they eat, it’s always important to think about how food looks.

With this in mind, it’s important to ensure that fresh fish and seafood is stored in a way that keeps the product looking fresh and appealing.

Simon Aspin has experience of ice machines, being involved in a company which distributes the products for Scotsman Ice Systems.

He said: “Ice not only helps to present fish at its best, but also keeps the fish in optimum condition.”

It is equally as important to ensure that any takeaway fish meals can be transported in packaging that keeps the food looking appetising all the way to the plate.

Joe said: “The Blue Fish Take Away Packaging range from T. Quality presents fish and chips in the best possible way through takeaway bags, carrier bags, flatpack and stackable boxes and accessories. 

“The Blue Fish range of bags ensures excellent portion control and are both greaseproof and lined for heat retention, providing your customers with delicious tasting fish and chips in appetising and professional-looking packaging.”

Having the correct equipment to store fish and seafood is important, what’s available and how do you choose what is right for your business?

Simon believes the best way to ensure fish and seafood is kept in the best condition, is to use ice.
He said: “Recent years have seen a proliferation of the types of ice available, with each having specific applications.

“Operators can use flake, nugget or cubelet ice to help display products, while keeping it in optimum condition, for example on a fruit de mer platter.

However, with so many ice machines available, choosing the right one for your company’s needs can be difficult.

Simon said: “With so much choice in terms of machines and different applications for ice, it can be difficult for operators and specifiers to have the expertise necessary to know which machine to choose for a site’s specific needs.

“Hubbard’s site survey, available to all customers, involves an expert visiting the site to assess which machine is best suited for the application.

“The survey will also take into account environmental factors, for example available space, plumbing restrictions and so forth, as well as what ice type the customer requires. 

“Whether it would be better to use flake, superflake, nugget or cubelet ice depends on a number of factors, including product, location, and plumbing.

“Flake ice offers a gentle and effective way of storing, transporting and displaying food, such as fish, keeping it refrigerated and moist, guaranteeing long-lasting freshness and maintaining natural appearance.

“An alternative is superflake ice, which is more compact and relatively dryer than flake ice, so it lasts longer.

“Nugget ice is ideal for fish display. Nugget ice is made using flake ice, which is compressed into a pellet. It has the benefits of flake ice, such as being gentle on delicate products and being quick to produce, but it lasts longer.  However, there’s no danger of ‘burning’ the product, because the nuggets are produced at (minus) -1°C.  Nugget ice can also be used for other applications, such as for drinks service.”

Wednesday, 8th June, 2016
We talk to experts about delivery and online ordering

Home delivery & online ordering

The online ordering and home delivery market is growing year on year, with more and more foodservice businesses looking to take advantage of this. So, why are takeaways switching on to the ever-advancing wonders of the web.

We talk to industry experts to explore the advantages and disadvantages of offering delivery and online ordering, plus what products and services are available to ensure what you offer to your customers is a success.

We speak to:

Adil Hussain, Director, The GrillCo, Leeds, Adam Morrison, operations manager, Appaway, Gagandeep Singh, Ayr India Restaurant and Takeaway, Geoffrey Whittle, Managing Partner, Interger Computers LLP, James FitzGerald, Founder, Justebikes, Andrew Prince, Owner, OrdaMia.

Why is online ordering and home delivery essential for your business?

With people living increasingly busy lives, fewer meals are being cooked at home and this lifestyle change is credited by our industry voices as one of the reasons for the growth in the home delivery market.

Geoffrey Whittle said: “The figures show that home delivery is increasing year-on-year and also that the percentage of those home delivery orders that are made online is also increasing year-on-year.

“This is due to the way that our lives have changed and will continue to change; fewer meals are being prepared in homes and a generation that has grown up using smart phones online now having disposable income.

“The volume of home-delivered food and the percentage of orders placed online will only continue to increase.”

Adil Hussain agreed. He said: “The modern era dictates increasingly busy lifestyles, leaving customers little precious time to divulge into menial tasks, such as waiting around in queues or being put on hold while on the phone.

“The fast food business is ‘fast in the realist and most literal sense’. Customers want to see quality results with minimal effort.”

“The advancements in mobile technology have also made it easier to shop online and businesses have had to adapt or be left behind.

“Online services result in much more accurate orders, especially with larger orders. The menu is directly in front of the customer and they can take as much time as they want to order without pre-occupying a staff member on the phone. Direct written confirmation is also sent to the customer to verify their order.

“This saves my business a lot of costs, as staff wages are the highest expenditures for my takeaway, thus they can spend their time on other important tasks while customers are directed online. Online menus are also much cheaper to manage and edit in the future, while paper menus can reduce in the quality of appearance and be very expensive to rebrand.

“Furthermore, customers want convenience, they say ‘staying in is the new going out’ and this has resulted in a surge of home delivery request. The more comfortable the customers feel, this increases the chance of repeat business.”

Gagndeep Singh added: “Online ordering is effective in accuracy and speed of service. It is also cost effective.”

Adam Morrison said: “It’s surprising how wedded to our phones the average consumer has become. Mobile technology has changed the way we communicate, shop, do our banking, read our news and even watch TV and video. Being part of this technology-enabled world is vital for business.

“Online and, in particular, mobile ordering has changed the face of the takeaway market. Brands like Just Eat and Hungry House now handle a considerable number of takeaway orders nationally and Domino’s Pizza, who launched their own mobile ordering solution, achieved phenomenal growth, all because they made their brand instantly accessible to their customers.

“Appaway is the brainchild of technology and database expert, Damian Guy, and was developed exclusively for independent takeaway businesses. These often small and independently-owned businesses can find it difficult to keep up in the rapidly changing world of technology and need providers they can trust for accessible and economical solutions.

“Damian refuses to believe in technology for technology’s sake – he believes that the technology we use to run our businesses should offer customers a real solution to their everyday needs.  For us, that means offering you a fixed-fee, no commission ordering solution that will get you into the vital world of online and mobile ordering quickly and with the minimum of fuss.  And for your customers, it means an ordering app which allows them to order from you at the click of a button.”

Andrew Prince added: “We’re living busier and busier lives, so who wants to be wasting valuable time in a queue waiting for food or cooking? Online ordering and home delivery means that all that’s left for your customer to do is order what they want. Online ordering and home delivery services can mean new customers for your business, more loyalty from existing customers and ultimately, more money for you.”

One business which is offering an effective solution to the challenge businesses are facing in delivering food quickly on Britain’s increasingly busy roads is electric bike company Justebikes.

James FitzGerald, the founder of the company, said:  “With the online order market growing so quickly, we have seen interest from large corporations, small quick service restaurants and even individual riders, which we weren’t expecting. This is due to the fact that they don’t see a pedal bike as an option as they need to cover far too many miles and they don’t have a licence for a motorbike.

“This growing interest in our bikes has made us invest in systems to support our clients.

“One cause for concern was the box and box mounting that is needed to transport the food. However, we have been working with one of our clients, Basilico, which owns multiple outlets around London, and successfully trialled a new mounting system.”

What service providers are there in the market and what do they offer by way of support for businesses?

It’s vital that quick service restaurants provide a reliable service to keep customers coming back to them. This means that their online ordering platforms have to be easy to use and that the product is delivered on time and up to the desired standard.

Adam said: “There are a number of mobile ordering solutions for takeaways in the market and we believe it’s important that you research and choose the right solution for you. 

“Just Eat and hungryhouse are the most well-known mobile ordering providers.  The benefit of these brands is that they have enormous marketing clout and drive consumer demand in the takeaway market.
They are also perfect for new businesses who want to ensure that they come to the attention of potential customers in their local area. 

“The most important thing to remember with this model is that, for the customer, their transaction is with the aggregator rather than with you – it may bring a customer to your door, but building direct customer relationships will be what keeps them coming back.

“Other brands such as Deliveroo can provide not just the mobile ordering portal, but your home delivery service too.  Services like this, provided that they are operating in your area, are a good option if you’re a restaurant looking to add takeaway to your offer and want to dip a toe in the water without investing in your own delivery team.

“Finally, companies like Appaway, will work with you to develop your own mobile ordering app tailored to your brand and business.  Many still operate on a commission basis, meaning that the more business you do, the higher your costs.  Our fixed fee means you know exactly how much you will pay each month allowing you to plan and budget accordingly.

“Like many companies, we do most of the leg-work for you in getting you up-and-running with your own mobile ordering solution.  Unlike other companies, the relationship doesn’t just end there – you will receive regular calls from our Customer Success team to ensure that your solution continues to grow and support your business.”

Andrew said: “Companies like Hungry House, Deliveroo and Just Eat are, of course, extremely popular and effective in bringing new custom to your business, however, lots of these companies demand a large set up fee and take a huge chunk of commission. OrdaMia offers a flat rate of 10% commission, rental tablets and phones, and no set up fee.”

Geoffrey added: “Integer have been around since 1986.  Their inTouch software and systems are specifically for home delivery, takeaway and table service with integrated on-line ordering and text messaging.  All systems supplied include 12 months support and customers have access to an emergency helpline in the evening and at weekends.  For more information, call 0161-798 7307 or visit www.integeruk.com.”

Adil praised the online ordering service provided by eTakeaway Max, which he uses at The GrillCo. He said: “eTakeway Max provide a complete package to help support businesses to minimise their costs and maximise their growth and efficiency.

“They can provide a fully integrated EPOS system to help manage online sales, fully-branded website and mobile app and an effective marketing plan to make full use of your customer database.  All of the above is provided on a zero per cent commission basis, with a 90-day risk-free cancellation period.”

Adil’s support of eTakeaway Max was backed by Gagandeep, who also uses the service. He said: “eTakeaway Max are professional, reliable and always at hand.”

On the issue of home delivery, James highlighted the need for takeaway restaurants to be able to rely on the mode of transport they use to get the food to the consumer.

He said: “The last thing a client needs is a bike to break down on a busy Friday night.

“We offer whatever support a company needs. Some need more than others. If the bikes are looked after, clients save money. If they are not looked after, it costs more.

“It’s all about education and training. We encourage best practice and safe electro-cycling for deliver riders.

“We also offer onsite servicing inside the M25.

“We carry out preventative maintenance. Preventative maintenance is all about understanding the machines and fixing or changing a part before it breaks. This ensures that clients end up with safer vehicles.”

What equipment do you need to have to ensure you offer a great home delivery service?

When it comes to offering a home delivery service in city centres, James is confident that electric bikes provide the perfect solution.

He said: “We have seen big growth in London. We also have clients in Sheffield, Manchester, Liverpool, Birmingham and on the south coast.

“Electric bikes offer great cost savings for deliveries under less than three and a half miles. They are ideal for city centres, especially for covering short distances when traffic is gridlocked.

“The bikes can also be used on cut-throughs, cycle paths and can be ridden through parks.”

With regards to equipment needed to provide an effective online ordering system, there was a general concensus that little investment was needed in new equipment.

Adam said: “The great thing about developing your own ordering app with Appaway is that it requires little to no investment in new equipment. 

“All you need is an internet connection to ensure that you can receive your orders – whether on a smartphone, tablet or computer. 

“Whilst it’s not necessary, we do recommend you invest in a simple ‘plug-n-play’ printer to ensure that both your kitchen and delivery teams receive the relevant information at the right time.”

Adil added: “Minimal Equipment investment is needed as eTakeaway Max provides the full package. Items such as having a wireless printer installed and an internet connection would make business operations much more efficient.”

Gagandeep agreed: “Generally very little equipment is required. It’s easy to install and then off you go.”

There is, however, technology that can assist takeaway businesses. Geoffrey explained: “A touch-screen epos system on your counter should provide you with caller recognition when your customers call, postcode-lookup to add new customers quickly and accurately, clear and professional receipt printing for the kitchen staff, the driver and the customer, driver management with map display, analysis of the business strengths and weaknesses, plus targeted customer marketing, ideally with integrated text messaging.”

What online ordering platform, if any, is best for business and why?

With more and more people using their smart phones for everything from banking to ordering cinema tickets, it goes without saying that takeaway restaurants are switching on to the advantages of allowing customers to order their food via a mobile app.

Adam said: “The world is going mobile! According to data from Deloitte, over three quarters of adults in the UK own a smart phone and a quarter of them haven’t used that phone to make a traditional phone call in over a week. 

“Whilst extending your online-enabled ordering solution to your website (which, by the way, these days needs to be mobile-friendly) is recommended, customers are increasingly turning to apps for quick and easy transactions – think banking, cinema tickets, supermarket shopping and now, ordering takeaways. This means that a mobile ordering app is a must-have.

“Our mobile ordering solution will offer your customer the option to order through your website, but most importantly they will have access to your own, free-to-download ordering app suitable for all smartphones.”

With regards to ordering platforms, Geoffrey suggested that restaurants had a choice to make between creating their own website or using a portal.

He said: “For online ordering, there are two main models; restaurants can either have their own website or use a portal.  Multi-restaurant portals can be effective but advertise your competition, charge a high commission, receive and hang on to your money and prevent you from marketing to the customers that you delivered to. 

“Having your own website, particularly when integrated with the in-store epos system, allows you to have more control at a much lower cost. You should be able to update your online menu instantly, market your service to your customers, for example by text or through Facebook and, most importantly, enjoy having the money that your customers spend with you paid directly into your bank.”

Adil was quick to extol the virtues of the online service provided by eTakeaway Max. He said: “eTakeaway Max work on a zero per cent commission basis with no long-term commitment. This results in your business benefiting from maximum potential revenue. 

“eTakeaway can also integrate a brand awareness strategy into your marketing plan, such as using SEO so your website appears higher in customers’ Google searches. Sales performance and data reports can be printed and analysed to find specific patterns in customers’ orders, which helps prepare the business for future trade.

“Other shared platforms online do not let you create your own identity or brand, by using their services you are actually benefiting their brand and business. Customers who place orders on your website will be interacting with you directly, creating a personal relationship, which is proven to create loyal and repeat trade.

“eTakeaway Max has numerous case studies on how they have benefitted business, they are a comprehensive, yet cost effect tool to tap into the rapidly growing market for online food ordering.
“In short they are here to tailor their work and support to benefit your business, rather than you modifying your operations in order to fit a certain criteria to receive such advice.”

Gagandeep added: “eTakeaway Max provide a first-rate service.”

Online ordering is very popular, what developments can we expert in the future?

With the advances in technology continuing at pace and the developments in online analytics, the future looks bright for customers and quick service restaurants operating in the home delivery market.

This is a belief shared by our panel. Adam said: “It’s an exciting world that we live in today, and we can expect technology to continue to move at pace.  Customers want us to continue to make things as seamless and easy as possible. 

“Expect cash to become a thing of the past as we leave home with only our mobile phone – currently, only 1% of consumers are using their smartphone to make payments on a daily basis, but we can expect this to increase.

“Tracking your delivery driver will be easier as GPS information becomes increasingly integrated with mobile ordering – so you will be able to see exactly where they are and even order your food and time your departure from work or the pub to arrive just as your takeaway does.

“As customers continue to use your mobile ordering app, so you will continue to learn more about them – their favourite meals, their preferred days of the week for ordering takeaway, even where they are when they order.  Expect mobile ordering solutions to offer even more ways to use this customer insight to develop tailored and personalised marketing.  No more mass emails or SMS ¬- expect technology to be able to understand each and every individual and to enable you to offer them a unique experience.

“And it won’t just be the customer that benefit.  Data will become increasingly accessible and useable for any business, large or small. Gaining insight and benefitting from this connected world will allow you to streamline your business – from better managing your menus, busy and quiet periods, stock holding and cash flow to even more exciting developments, such as connecting directly to your cash and carry to automatically reorder certain ingredients.”

Gagandeep agreed that analytics will play a vital part in the future of online ordering. He said: “Online ordering is here to stay and it will only grow. Finer details of customers’ personal preferences will be looked at closer. Therefore investment in technology may be required to meet demand and customer requirements.”

Adil added: “The percentage of online orders will carry on increasing, therefore it is vital businesses are aware of, and able to understand, the technology used to satisfy such demands, as well how it can be tailored to maximise the benefit for the business and the customer.

“Mobile apps and mobile-friendly ordering sites will become a necessity for online food businesses, rather than just an added bonus.

“Customers will seek more personalised orders, so having their shopping preferences stored on a system to make future trade easier will be key in retaining long-term customers, as customers will return to businesses they feel understand their needs the best.”

With the continued growth in the home delivery market, Justebikes hopes to be able to take advantage of the need for a transport solution that allows businesses to get their food to customers, without affecting nearby residents.

James said: “At present most of our business comes from smaller quick service restaurants, who are able to react quicker than larger quick service restaurant chains.

“Electric bikes offer a fantastic solution to any outlets struggling to deal with noise pollution. One client came to us because he couldn’t get permission to open a store due to noise concerns from residents living nearby.

“He got a fleet of electric bikes. He then went back to the council, showed them proof of what he had done and was given permission to open his business.

“This proves that it’s not just in terms of air pollution where these bikes have an advantage, but they also offer a solution to concerns about noise.”

If you don’t currently offer online ordering or home delivery, how do you start?

“Offering customers a mobile-ordering solution is quick and easy,” said Adam. “Of course, it starts with a phone call to the team at Appaway who will have you up-and-running in fewer than 30 days. 

“If you’re really not sure how a mobile ordering app works, we recommend that you download a few onto your own smartphone and try them out.  That way, you can be confident when talking to your own customers when yours is ready to launch.  Don’t worry though – we give you all the training you need to use your mobile ordering solution and a special marketing pack to promote your app to your customers.
And, once your app is launched, we provide ongoing support to ensure that it’s working to grow your business.

“As we say – ‘appy days with Appaway!” 

Geoffrey said: “If you already have one of Integer’s inTouch epos systems, you just need to arrange for broadband at your restaurant, register a domain name and you can have an online presence and be taking orders within a couple of days.”

Gagandeep also found it easy to take his business online. He said: “eTakeaway Max are approachable and efficient in giving you all the information you require to tailor-build your online ordering system to suit your business model best.”

Adil added: “You can contact eTakeaway Max through their website and speak to an advisor who can explain what they offer, as well as advise you what is best for your business. They will support you from the very first step until you see results. Their price is one of the most competitive in the market and with a zero per cent commission, there is no harm in seeking their counsel.”

Wednesday, 8th June, 2016
Market Wraps

Business Profile – Market Wraps

As with every issue of QuickBite we look to speak a business owner who has seen their company flourish and who is receiving plaudits from customers across the country. In the latest issue we speak to Carl Denning about his award winning venture – Market Wraps.

So Carl, tell us a little bit about the business?

“In the 1950’s, my grandparents went around the local area with their horse and cart selling Yorkshire ice cream and now I’m continuing their street food tradition having originally trained as a chef in Leeds and Surrey.

“I started trading just over five years ago at Leeds farmers market after my mother and step-father lent me £500, enabling him to buy a Bain Marie, a grill, a slow cooker and a wallpapering table!

“The journey hasn’t been easy though, I’ve battled Cancer four times, with the help of my family and friends, and yet Market Wraps continues to succeed.

“I wanted to use my skills as a chef to make homemade quality food which was the main concept of street food. 

“Once I got these two things right they moved the farmers market from the back of Leeds market, to the main shopping street in Leeds and business boomed.

“Market Wraps now celebrates great quality Yorkshire produce. We do slow cooked braised pulled pork cooked in Yorkshire cider served with homemade coleslaw and BBQ sauce, and handmade Yorkshire pudding wraps, a full Sunday lunch wrapped in a Yorkshire pudding and our toasted grilled cheese sandwiches uses locally grown vegetables for the relish.

“To celebrate our fifth birthday we decided to take a leaf out of the books of my grandparents and invest in a cart, we don’t have a horse this time! But we have converted horsebox and call it ‘The Allotment’.

“We are currently working with local allotment owners to buy their vegetables, this means the vegetables are seasonal, it’s fresh, it’s local, and it just gives a little love back to the community.”
What is the ethos of the company?

“I would say on a personal note, I liked to be liked! And that also goes for the business.

“To put it simply, our ethos is to make our customers very happy, if you read our reviews they are not just about how good our food is, or how the stall looks but also about the rapport we have with the customer and this is very important to me.

“In five years we have had one complaint, and that lady (Denise) after rectifying the mistake and taking her advice, is now one of our most regular customers.”

How strong do you feel that the food to go is at the moment?

“Food-to- go is a growing trend and research shows this is not slowing down.

“Food on the go was born from fast foods chains, but suddenly in the last few years starting with small independents things have got exciting and suddenly the consumer has a choice. The big corporate brands are seeing this trend and are also jumping on the bandwagon.
“Personally I think by being independent, people vote with their cash and the great thing about being small is you have a lot more scope with being experimental.

“Another trend in this market is people want to try new and exciting food, for big businesses to do this costs a lot of money, it doesn’t for us independents. With this they may have the big budgets to advertise, but we will always have the lead in trends.”

What are the latest trends in the industry?

“They are more food markets shopping centres, spaces and night markets that are opening up and offering their environments for traders to come and sell their food.

“Not only is this great for the trader but also the consumer, there is something celebrating about food and in a space like this it creates a great buzz.

“It does seem that the latest trends in street food is new foods that people have never tried. Our Yorkshire pudding wraps have gone down a treat.” 

Who designed the site/how long does each one take to open?

“Market Wraps has its own characteristics, and with that we now understand the way to market it and the direction we can grow. It started up as a stall on the farmers market, and that’s where its roots are.

“That is another reason to use locally sourced products as much as we can. We have made our horsebox look like a Yorkshire allotment, have fresh herbs hanging from the box and lots of props to promote Yorkshire.”
Why did you decide to go with this style of shop fit?

“We choose The Allotment for our new idea was because my step-father and also a close friend has an allotment.
“I liked the feeling of a community when visiting and in a busy city it always felt like stepping into a peaceful place, and of course there is the healthy locally grown fresh produce.

“We are currently talking to allotment owners right now to find a way we can get our veg from them and put the money back into the community.
“We have taken the style of the converted horsebox and made it into an allotment which also fits great with our business and the Yorkshire tone.”

How many staff work for the business?

“My health has not been great in recent years and I have now had pancreatic cancer four times. The reason why I keep beating it is having help and support from my partner, my family, and my friends and my love of the business. The business keeps me fighting. I am lucky I have found my passion. I have a lot of people who help me and with that the business gives me another reason to want to fight.” 
What has the public response been like to the business?
“When we do weddings or corporate events we find that some of the guests also come and find us at our markets. 

“Whatever our customers choose, if it’s our slow cooked braised pork, or our handmade Yorkshire pudding wraps, all our food takes time to make, but our customers really respects that. When the customer comes back and says how much they enjoyed it, well, it makes it all worth it.”

How many can you accommodate?

“Things have got better from having just a wallpapering table. We now have our own industrial unit to make the food, and marquees and outdoor kitchen set ups to deal with large number.

“Now with The Allotment we are now able to set up with good flexible set ups to suit the customers’ space and we can accommodate for up to 250 to 300 people.”
How would you describe your menu?

“Our food is not posh it’s true to its Yorkshire roots. It’s full of flavour and we put food on the menu not only what I like to cook, but also what I love to eat. It takes time to get our products right, but this is a great excuse for me to eat a lot to get it right.”

What is the most popular item on the menu?

“We have been selling slow cooked braised pulled pork for years now and it has always been the most popular item on the menu. When a food starts getting popular and the mainstream starts to produces it I do question if it’s time to pull it from the menu.

“But it’s still very popular and we have a lot of customers that come especially for our braised pork. The one thing that is in common with all the menu items we sell is they all usually sell out - that’s the way I know it’s popular.”
What sets you aside from other similar businesses in your area?

“There is a food market in Leeds called World feast which is on once a month on the main shopping area. It’s great!

“It’s a real celebration of world street food, but no one did Yorkshire food. There is so much going on in Yorkshire, everything from food and drink shows to the Tour de Yorkshire, to music festivals, and of course amazing local food. I am surprised nobody spotted the gap before.

“We take popular food, like pulled pork and put our own Yorkshire twist on it.” 

What are your plans moving forward?

“My five year plan was to move into a cafe, but due to my health I guess it’s fair to say that not many banks will lend anything right now, and with the high rents and rates it is out of our affordability. It is a shame as we do get asked all the time where we are based and it would be great to have somewhere where we can direct our customers during the week.

“However, I have simply had to change the plan, and in a way, it’s a good thing. Instead of using money to grow, we have had to use our imagination, and five years on, and through everything that has gone on. I can say I am proud of where we are as a business today.

“As with life, the five-year plan has not gone in the direction I was expecting. But looking forward, street food as doubled year on year since 2010, meaning that it is no fad. With that, I’m still very excited about the future. To take all this on board and try and work out future plans, we would like to put more units on the street, they keep their value. If the location is wrong unlike bricks and mortar we can simply put in a new area and the trend for street food seems to be rising. 

“We have also been chosen for an article called “UK’s most unique outdoor wedding caterers” with the biggest online wedding site in Europe.”

Wednesday, 4th May, 2016
Improving Kitchen Hygiene

Improving Kitchen Hygiene

One of the topics that comes up in conversation most when it comes to food and drink is the quality and cleanliness of the kitchens in which it is made and prepared. Hygiene specialists, dedicated environmental health teams and government regulated bodies such as the Food Standards Agency are tasked with making sure that businesses follow best practices in this area.

They help to regulate, monitor and enforce the law and make sure it is being adhered to. Ultimately, they are protecting both the health and safety of the public and the threat of legal action against businesses.

In order to better understand the importance of good kitchen hygiene and the ramifications that incompliance can lead to, we spoke to some of the leading experts in the field. We hear their views on the latest regulations, their top tips for maintaining standards and some of the training that is available.

In this issue we speak to:
Dr Lisa Ackerley – Strategic Adviser – Acoura
Brian Lavelle - UK & Ireland Accounts Manager - Cambro
Food Standards Agency - Hygiene Delivery Branch
Peter Alsworth - Chemical Sales Director - Winterhalter
Martin Nash – Product Manager - Checkit
David Bashford - Managing Director Client Services – Food Alert
Tom Sensier – Managing Director – TM Elecronics

Why is good kitchen hygiene important?

It goes without saying that good kitchen hygiene is important and a spokesperson for the FSA told us that: “If you are a food business, good food hygiene is essential when making or selling food so that it is safe to eat.”

They also touched on the fact that it helps you to comply with food law, reduces the risk of food poisoning among your customers and protects your business’s reputation. In addition the spokesperson informed us that the food hygiene rating a business is given follows an inspection by the local authority. This rating will depend on the standards of hygiene found during the inspection.

According to the latest guidelines by the FSA, the main things to remember for good food hygiene are the 4Cs:  Cross-contamination, Cleaning, Chilling and Cooking. These will help businesses prevent the most common food safety problems.

Understanding the importance of good practise is vital and as Dr Lisa Ackerley explains: “Good kitchen hygiene is vital for safeguarding the health of those who eat the food you prepare.

“Dirty kitchens where staff ignore or fail to implement best practice for food safety are the root cause of food poisoning and cross contamination incidents.

“While to most people food poisoning will be a day or two of unpleasantness, the fact is every year in the UK around 500 people die from food poisoning, so excellent food hygiene standards should always be top of the agenda.”

This was something that Brian Lavelle also agreed with and in discussion he suggested that strict food hygiene rules and standards should be in place for all food retailers. His thoughts were that this would include having properly trained staff, clean premises and equipment, as well as keeping food at the correct temperature and correct hand washing procedures.

As far as Brian is concerned, food poisoning is highly linked with inadequate cleaning and hygiene, but it is however also important to consider food intolerances. He said: “It is estimated that 1 in 4 people in the UK, including up to 50% of children, are affected by allergies.

“Allergen avoidance is essential for managing potentially life-threatening reactions and all foodservice operators need to comply with new regulations to ensure the safety of their customers,” he continued.

Martin Nash reinforced this point and said: “The highest standards of hygiene should be an absolute priority for every food business.

“Good practice means not only ensuring that regular scheduled cleaning tasks are undertaken and done proficiently by members of staff but also that accurate records are maintained accordingly. Your local authorities regular EHO’s audits will base their Food Standard Rating on the findings presented in your records.

“No responsible food outlet wants to damage their reputation by having a low rating or worse by making their customers unwell.”

The threat of having pests in the workplace and the failure of meeting legislation were just some of the reasons that David Bashford commented. He told us: “It’s important on a number of levels – to ensure compliance with legislative requirements, reduce the risk of food contamination and poisoning, reduce the likelihood of pest activity and provide employees with a pleasant working environment.”

What training is available to staff to ensure good practice?

Training is one of the most important things that a business can offer in order to ensure good practice and Dr Lisa Ackerley was one of the first to comment, informing us that there are a range of certified, classroom based food safety and hygiene courses which are available and that they are both thorough and highly practical.

She then continued to say that there are also a number highly cost effective e-learning modules and courses available on the market which not only teach best practice, but can be completed anywhere, in the trainee’s own time.

These are particularly good for smaller businesses on a more limited budget who can’t afford for staff to be out the kitchen for prolonged periods.
Lisa added: “It is important to ensure that any e-learning is good quality and staff can’t short-cut the learning and move on to the end until they have demonstrated that they understand the concepts.”

The compliance team at the FSA reinforce the idea that food businesses must ensure that any staff who handles food are supervised and instructed and/or trained in food hygiene in a manner that is appropriate to the work they do.

Whilst they say that there is no legal requirement to attend a formal training course or to obtain a food hygiene certificate or qualification, many businesses may want their staff to do so.  The necessary skills may be obtained through on-the-job training, self-study or relevant prior experience.

Cleaning techniques are vital and a knowledge of not just the best methods but the products to use was something that Peter Alsworth pointed out. He told us: “Training on cleaning techniques is important, as staff will use domestic cleaning products at home but they need to understand that the chemicals used in the hospitality industry are much stronger and require careful handling.  These days, concentrates that use special dispensing systems are generally used throughout the industry.

“Here at Winterhalter, we can give advice on COSHH (Control of Substances Hazardous to Health) training for staff.  To reassure guests, hotels can display their food hygiene and safety certificates publically.

“Chemicals suppliers like us produce cleaning rosters for customers and also offer advice on the use of products. Staff should be aware that general cleaning needs to be carried out throughout the day. A cleaning roster identifies equipment and gives a recommended cleaning frequency. This allows staff to get into a routine of cleaning, so it becomes part of the structure of their day.”

Arguing the case that training was not necessarily law but it was something that businesses should focus on, David Bashford said: “The law doesn’t specify exactly what training has to be carried out. It talks about training being ‘commensurate with work activity’.

“It’s recommended that all staff receive induction training that covers the basics, then food handlers should go on to take Level 2 training which is either a day of tutor-led training or it can be via eLearning.

“Managers need to understand food safety management and they should take Level 3 or even Level 4. Refresher training for everyone is good practice and records should be retained to demonstrate the training which has taken place.”

What are the ramifications if you do not maintain good standards?

Sadly, some operators think they can continually cut corners when it comes to cleanliness and hygiene standards.  But, it’s a simple fact - if you don’t implement best practice you could cause a customer to become seriously ill or even die according to Dr Lisa Ackerley.

She said: “If this wasn’t reason enough for always ensuring best standards, businesses should also think about the reputational risk of a food poisoning outbreak.

“I’ve lost count of the number of takeaways, restaurants, pubs and cafes who have had to close following a food poisoning or staff hygiene issue. Consumers these days are well informed, and with the FSA’s Food Hygiene Rating scheme, Twitter, Facebook and TripAdvisor so easily accessible, it’s not possible to escape a mishap without it affecting your business.” 

Looking at the problems that a business may encounter should they not manage the hygiene in their businesses, a spokesperson for the FSA highlighted that if you do not maintain good standards this could lead to:

• Food you make or sell may not be safe and your customers could become ill with food poisoning. Enforcement action may be taken by your local authority to protect the public.
• This could have an impact on your business’s reputation.
• Customers may complain about your business to your local authority.
• Your business may be given a low food hygiene rating.

When it come to the time and effort that is required to maintain high standards,

Brian Lavelle suggested that he had found one of the fundamental issues. He told us that in todays’ market it’s tempting for catering services and restaurants to dedicate more space to the income-generating front of house and leave the back of house area neglected.  He warned that this is dangerous however as mistakes in this area can be fatal and lead to legal action if food storage areas become a breeding ground for harmful bacteria.

He added: “Rusty shelves, dust, grease and food spills can all lead to the growth of dangerous microbes, risking cross-contamination and compromising the quality of stored food.

“Having the right products can help minimise risk, facilitate the smooth running of a kitchen and help businesses meet food safety regulations.”

According to Peter Alsworth: “Customers have come to expect high standards and will vote with their feet if they consider an establishment to be ‘dirty’. In these days of social media nowhere can risk bad publicity, which could severely affect their livelihood. Even staff uniforms can tell a story!”

This was also agreed by Martin Nash who suggested that it is not only the financial loss to small businesses if the customers stay away but the same can be said of the big companies. According to Martin, in the worst case scenario businesses can be forcibly closed and the owners prosecuted, fined and imprisoned. He added: “Food safety is increasingly in the public’s conscious through high profile cases reported in the media. When the Chipotle chain in the US was linked to a series of food poisoning reports, it wiped 40% of their share price. It’s an incredibly serious subject with potentially huge ramifications.”

In terms of the Environmental Health Officers can do, David Bashford explained that they may take formal action if they find unsatisfactory hygiene standards. This might include Notices which require improvements to be made or they could even close a food business if they identified an ‘imminent risk to health’.

Talking more about the points he said: “Officers give a Food Hygiene Rating that ranges from Zero (Urgent improvement necessary) to Five (Very good). Ratings can be seen by the public on the Food Standards Agency’s web-site.

“Therefore, consumers may choose a food business based on their rating. Poor standards can lead to food poisoning, food contamination and complaints, contributing to a poor reputation which may affect business.”

What cleaning tips would you give small businesses?

For small businesses and large operators the problems are the same. The fines are also the same but a smaller business may not be put in the spotlight as much as previously mentioned with the Chipotle case. One major difference is that large chains will often have compliance mangers and in house training as well as large manuals. For this reason we asked for some tips from the experts that relate to businesses of any size.

The Food Standards Agency say that some of the best tips to make sure that you comply are to:
• Ensure all staff who work with food wash their hands properly when handling or preparing food. Harmful bacteria can spread very easily from people’s hands to food, work surfaces, equipment etc and effective regular handwashing helps to prevent this.

• Effective cleaning of work surfaces and equipment is essential to get rid of harmful bacteria and stop them spreading.

• Clear and clean as you go. Keeping your kitchen clear and clean makes it safer. You can do this by keeping your kitchen free from clutter and rubbish and by clearing away dirty kitchen equipment as soon as possible.

• Develop a cleaning schedule to help you clean effectively.

Dr Lisa Ackerley also added her tips suggesting that there were two main points to focus on. She said: “I would give two key tips. Firstly, make sure you identify the risks to your specific kitchen and address them accordingly. Secondly, always build time to clean hands, floors and surfaces into your working day. Don’t just do it at the beginning and end of a shift, keep on top of things throughout the day to ensure standards remain high.” Following on from this it was Brian Lavelle who warned that not following a regular schedule could lead to build up. He commented that one area to watch out for is the build-up of cleaning residues on glassware and crockery which affects the quality of food and drink and may lead to contamination by unwanted flavours and toxins which might pose a risk to customers.

An important thing to consider for those in the industry is to make sure that they use the best cleaning products, something that David Bashford commented on. He said: “Use professional cleaning products and materials.

“Ensure sanitisers are left for the correct contact time. Draw up a simple schedule of what should be cleaned on a daily, weekly and monthly basis. Ensure staff mark off completed cleaning tasks and review the quality of their work.”

His top tip however was to buy a torch! “Look underneath and round the back of equipment and fixtures – the less accessible areas. Use your eyes – take a tour round the kitchen on a regular basis and give feedback. Remember, high standards of cleaning are a basic requirement of running a food business,” he added.

Testing core food temperature is also important ans obviously requires direct contact so it’s not surprising that colour coded food thermometers are also used – like colour coded knives and chopping boards – to prevent the spread of bacteria from one food group to another. But at what expense – and are they really hygienic enough?

TM Electronics MD, Tom Sensier said: “The old system of buying multi-coloured thermometers just isn’t financially sustainable – not for the customer or even for the supplier who is expected to stock all the colours of the rainbow! And what’s the point of reducing cross contamination if you can’t make sure the needle probe itself is sterile? With our new system it’s only the probes – a low cost item - which ‘change’ colour – and because they’re completely waterproof you get a much more hygienic result.”

What role do professional cleaning services play in the market?

David Bashford told us that: “There are a number of professional cleaning contractors who can support your efforts. They are worth considering for difficult cleaning tasks like extract duct cleaning or deep cleaning.”

Whilst Dr Lisa Ackerley thought that larger businesses will doubtless be able to afford to pay cleaners and this can be a helpful way of saving your staff time when maintaining standards. However, there is no substitute for your staff believing 100% in providing good food safety and hygiene standards. Clean as you go is a particularly good concept.

What new equipment and products should businesses look out for to assist their cleaning?

There are always new products on the market which can help reduce the time your staff spend cleaning kitchens. None however are a substitute for good training.

Dr Lisa Ackerley added: “Concentrate on upskilling and educating your staff then you can have a think about looking at the products you use in more detail. Use the services of a reputable consultancy to verify your efforts and demonstrate to the local authority that they can have confidence in the safety management of your business - the key to getting a high Food Hygiene Rating.”

Understanding the role of technology in the market and how this can help you with you checks Martin Nash said: “Digital technology, such as Checkit’s recently launched Work Management system, can help to streamline and modernise many cleaning and food safety regimes. Gains range from removing time-consuming processes and cutting manual errors, to improving real-time control of operations. Food operators can benefit by going digital, with technology helping to transform the way businesses meet their obligations.

“Organisations understand the potential consequences of failing to create strong policies that protect staff and the public. However, one of the big challenges is finding effective ways of ensuring these policies are consistently adhered to – especially across multi-sites.

“When it comes to carrying out tasks, there has been a reliance on old-fashioned pen and paper records. Not only is this time-consuming for employees, but it also fails to provide much in the way of control. More importantly, as checklists can be completed incorrectly and sometimes falsified there is no guarantee that staff are carrying out their responsibilities in line with the guidelines.

“Checkit prompts and guides staff to carry out food, hygiene and safety tasks the right way and provides a tamper-proof, time-stamped record. Moving to digital makes compliance simpler, faster and more transparent. This cloud based system combines smart sensing technology with work management software for scheduling food, hygiene and safety tasks. These are displayed as interactive digital checklists which staff access through a handheld device. This addresses the industry challenge of tracking staff activity and securely recording the data.

“Digital checklists provide step by step guidance on how to perform scheduled routine tasks, with staff logging their activities and results of any checks (assisted by temperature probes and smart sensors where necessary) in real-time, which is automatically uploaded to the cloud. As records and data are time-stamped, trusted and visible, managers can monitor activities remotely, across multiple sites as they happen, with confidence that they have an accurate picture of operations.

“Not only does this provide greater visibility, but it also ensures that any problems are dealt with quickly and in accordance with agreed policies.”

Brian Lavelle was also keen to comment discussing Cambro’s Allergen Free storage range which offers food operators a simple way to meet their customer’s special dietary needs.

By identifying and isolating allergens from non-allergenic food ingredients and products, the colour-coded system allows chefs to easily implement food allergen control. The extensive Allergen-Free range is available now and designed to prevent cross-contamination, including personalised containers, measuring cups, allergen-free dissolvable labels and trays.

One place that is often forgotten about is back of house storage areas though this is central in maintaining food standards and food safety is central to Cambro’s technological developments. Our Camshelving contains Camguard antimicrobial shelf plates – a silver-ion technology that is infused into the shelf plate material to inhibit the growth of mould, fungus and bacteria.

If you do have a build-up of these types of dirt of bacteria. Winterhalter has developed a key range of essential environmentally-friendly cleaning chemicals formulated to deliver results that match or better traditional chemicals. The BLUe range includes catering products, such as detergent, degreaser and sanitiser, as well as housekeeping chemicals like toilet cleaner and glass cleaner according to Peter Alsworth.

All of these tips should give you a good starting point on your journey to clean working environments and further information is available in our columns with the FSA and online.


Wednesday, 4th May, 2016
The Beefy Boys

From pop-up to permanent

I was recently asked to identify trends in the burger industry for 2016 and beyond. One of my points revolved around the pop-up restaurant concept. A pop-up is literally the same as a restaurant except one major factor – the bricks and mortar. These “restaurants” will either get a residency, possibly in a pub or move around from location to location.

It’s become an increasingly popular method for people to be able to get their food out there without the overhead costs involved.  My tip was to see more pop-ups move from temporary to permanent premises. One such example of this being Hereford-based pop-up pioneers The Beefy Boys. I visited their new restaurant recently and managed to talk to Murf, one of the founders of the award-winning Meat Boutique. He gave us a fascinating insight into the pop-up world and advice for anyone looking to follow in their footsteps.

How and why did you start?

The Beefy Boys is the very definition of a drunken BBQ that got out of hand. We are comprised of four childhood friends Dan, Lee, Murf and Christian. The whole thing started by accident about five years ago. Dan decided he was going to throw a BBQ for his wife’s birthday and instead of doing the usual boring British BBQ, we wanted to replicate the things we’d seen on Man vs Food. We researched as much as possible about American Diner food and low and slow BBQ and tried it ourselves – our friends loved it!

For a laugh, we entered Grillstock (a Bristol BBQ festival) in 2012, and despite our inexperience we were placed seventh of 25 other competing teams.

It was just a hobby for us until 2014, when they added a burger round, so with burgers being our speciality the pressure was on. Luckily we won and as a result, we got to represent the UK at the World Burger Championships in Las Vegas. We were up against 50 of the very best burger chefs in America and were crowned the second best burger team in the world. It was after this that things went crazy for us.

When did you start with the pop-up and which venues were you doing?

We started off doing pub beer gardens and the local skate park – wherever would have us really. We just approached people. You will be surprised how many businesses are open to the idea, especially if you ask to do something on a quiet night like a Monday or Tuesday.

What was on the menu in the early days?

We kept our first menu dead simple. I think at our first pop-ups we did just two burgers (The Beefy Boy and The American Boy) with a few different toppings and sauces.

What was the first piece of equipment you guys bought?

We borrowed Dan’s Dad’s BBQ and as much stuff as possible and purchased a hot plate. We would make a couple of quid at a pop-up and then use the money to buy a new grill or fold-out table. You would be amazed at how much equipment you can build-up after a couple of months.

When did the hobby become a business?

Doing as well as we did in Vegas was when everything changed for us. At this point it was more than just a hobby and it became a business. We went from selling 50 or 60 burgers at a pop-up to 300 to 400 which was a steep learning curve! The Vegas competition led to a few TV appearances and we realised how important that and having a strong social media presence was.

What did it feel like moving into permanent premises?

After the accolades from Vegas we started looking into a permanent restaurant. In total, it took 12 months from starting the conversation to actually opening. This was another huge learning experience – from designing the place from the ground up (the decor, kitchen etc) to all the other bits you don’t think about – fire alarms, CCTV, disabled toilets – the list is literally endless!

The hardest part was raising the money to do it. Banks have no interest in lending to a first time restaurant. We had 12 months of really healthy account books to prove we had a good product but the banks kept saying no, and that running a restaurant was different to running a pop-up.

We actually had no way of paying for the restaurant but pressed ahead anyway. I wouldn’t advise that to anyone as it led to many sleepless nights and a high level of stress, but in the end we managed to secure the money through private loans, lease agreements and by any other means. Anyone thinking of opening a restaurant – have a think about how much it will cost, get that figure and then quadruple it!

We opened in January 2016 and expanded the menu from just burgers to add wings and sides. We’ve kept our menu intentionally small as everything is fresh and we don’t freeze anything. We don’t have a microwave in the building.

Making the jump from pop-up to restaurant was a big one. It’s a big commitment to go from doing something a couple of days a week to 7 days a week but it’s been worth it. Our advice to anyone is to get a good location with the highest footfall you can. If your food is good people will seek you out but not everyone is a foodie. You want to get as many people through the door as possible to try your food and location is vital.

We’re in the city centre next to some national chains and a multiplex cinema. Many people advised us not to go for that location saying we couldn’t compete with established brand names. But, we are happy to say that we’ve been the busiest restaurant on the development since opening. I think the public are getting savvy to chains and want something more bespoke and interesting than mass produced food.

When I visited The Beefy Boys I was very, very impressed with the food on offer. Their wonderful new restaurant is right in the heart of Hereford, using acclaimed local butcher, Neil Powell for their fresh, locally sourced 21 day aged Hereford beef. On that occasion I went with The Butty Back – a beef patty with American and Swiss cheese topped with 16 hour smoked and pulled beef brisket. This was one of the best burgers I’ve had in recent memory and a testament to the love and devotion these guys have poured into their food. If you’re looking for a good quality burger you should definitely add this to your destination list.
Burger Lad®

Wednesday, 4th May, 2016
Pies and Pasties

Pies and Pasties

As we are all aware the rise of the food and drink sector is huge and especially the products that are convenient. Sales in the food-to-go sector are growing and the ever expanding choice that the UK consumer faces is a huge positive. Pies and pasties are perfect for the food to go sector with traditional and on trend fillings available they really can appeal to all consumers - with this in mind we wanted to look at a variety of businesses that operate in this market and hear from the experts about their thoughts on one of the nation’s favourite foods.

In this issue we hear from:

Rob Spurling – Pierateer –Piterate.co.uk
Roy Webb – Director - Victorian Baking Ovens
Chris Pauling – Managing Director – Proper Cornish
Jez Threadgold – Commercial Director – Wrights
Teresa Suter -Sales Director – Vegware

What make pies and pasties so popular and are we seeing growth in this area of the market?

“Pies and pasties are part of the Great British make-up.” Roy Webb
The above statement and events like the 2016 British Pie Awards where over 800 pies and pasties competed for the title, contribute to the notion that the food in this category is on the rise.

Rob Spurling followed on from this and said that pies and pasties are great British comfort food. “The hearty filling and crisp pastry is a great partnership!

“There has been a real growth in artisan pie makers in the past few years, which have flourished at the British Pie Awards and can be seen at a lot of local markets.

“On top of this there are a growing number of restaurants and pubs focusing their menus around pies, which is great for the pie consumer!”

To understand the growth of the growth in the market and the impact that pies have in the market we asked Chris Pauling to go behind the numbers. “Food-to-go has seen an unprecedented rise in popularity, with 5% growth in the past three years, the sector is now worth an impressive £20.2bn.

“This is largely being driven by consumers looking for foods that fit into their increasingly busy lifestyles. The time-poor nature of shoppers encourages purchase of food products that can be enjoyed at any point of the day, seamlessly fitting into their daily routine, so it is little wonder that grab and go bites are performing so well.

“Pies and pasties are perfectly propositioned to dominate this burgeoning market, and with baked goods seeing strong growth of 12.5% and volume up 17%, it would appear they are doing just that. When it comes to on the go goods, portability is instrumental in success. Products must be easily handheld to consume at the shopper’s leisure. While pasties are well-suited to this aspect, with its design origins based on exactly that, pies face a tougher challenge in this sector.”

With all of this fresh in our minds and with businesses battling to remain at the top it is important that we look at the latest trends.

Jez Threadgold commented on this in response to the first question and said: “We work extremely hard to ensure that the products we produce are of the highest quality. We have 90-years’ experience producing pies, and our philosophy has always been, ‘a fantastic quality product will guarantee our customers keep coming back for more’.”
Whilst Teresa Suter suggested that Pies and pasties are a return to filling British cuisine, revived with more modern global flavours and now also catering to the growing vegetarian market. 

This was backed up again by Rob who mentioned that whilst it’s hard to beat the traditional steak and chicken pie flavours, the influence of artisan producers has meant a much wider range of fancy fillings, seasonings and flavours. Added to this is a growth in curry pies, more interesting vegetarian fillings and gluten free options.

Development is therefore a major component to the businesses that are operating in this sector and this is when Proper Cornish have spent much time perfecting their recipes. Chris Pauling told us that pies and pasties are traditionally seen as a delicious baked treat enjoyed in a sit-down format, it has been the task of manufacturers to shape it into a viable option for the on the go sector.

Proper Cornish did just this, launching its innovative handheld pies NPD in 2015. The 145g pies were specifically designed for those consumers looking to grab a tasty bite on-the-go. The efficient portability is enabled by the hand-made star shaped short crust pastry casing that parcels up the delicious fillings with the aim of no drips or spills, making it ideal to enjoy on the move. Using quality, locally sourced ingredients, they come in a range of four classic flavours: Steak & Ale and Chicken, Bacon & Leek, which were both awarded silver at the British Pie Awards 2016, a vegetarian option, Asparagus & Mushroom which was awarded gold, and a Pork Pie option.

Understanding consumer habits led Jez Threadgold to add: “We work very closely with our customers to understand emerging trends, and how we can capitalise on those as they develop.

“The ‘Food to Go’ and ‘Street Food’ trends continue to generate interesting product development ideas, and could potentially offer more opportunities for pastry-based concepts going forward.

“Our Street Pie range offers a twist on a traditional theme, with a range of full-flavoured pies inspired by classic South American and Mexican Street Food recipes, e.g. Piri Piri Chicken, Cajun BBQ Pork and Beef Adobo.”

“The core flavours in the pie category continue to stand the test of time. Steak and Kidney, Meat and Potato, Chicken and Mushroom and Steak and Ale are all still amongst the top sellers, and we don’t see that changing anytime soon.

“Our Chicken Balti pie has been particularly successful in football stadiums throughout the country, offering a slightly different twist on the traditional pie.”

How can businesses add value with pies and pasties?

For smaller businesses with a smaller premises both in terms of turnover and footprint making the most of the space can be difficult. Roy Webb suggested that this is the reason that his business have seen such a sharp rise in the number of people buying counter top units and pie warmers. He said: “Yes there is a real trend to make businesses more versatile and for the reliably low cost you can add a new unit which opens up your menu and allows you to sell products that your customers want.

After reviewing countless pies on the website, Rob Spurling knows a thing or two about the matter. He feels that the key to a good pie is balancing the quality of the pastry with the filling. Pastry is not an expense, but a skill. But most customers are willing to pay a bit more for a quality filling, including seasonal vegetables and tender cuts of meat, which is where the value can be added whilst improving quality too. This quality allows you to charge a little more without altering your margins.

Jez seconded this saying that: “In order to add value, our advice for bakers selling pies is to always ensure that product quality is their primary focus – quality should never be compromised.

“Stocking core flavours will keep an existing customer base steady, but don’t be afraid the stretch the boundaries by introducing new fillings, to potentially attract new consumers into the pie category.”

What role does equipment play in the pie world?

Rob Spurling joked that it was probably best to ask a pie maker but he would say on this; “There’s no doubt that equipment is needed to produce pies in a large enough quantity for sale, but a handmade pie has a lot stronger appeal than simply mass produced pies. Of course a machine may be used to press the pastry into shape and cook the filling but a bit of homemade care is also vital!”

Talking about equipment, Teresa Suter, The right equipment is vital to a great diner experience. Presentation is everything – and our glassine bags offer visibility with the highest eco credentials. They also stop pies and pasties drying out in a hot cabinet.

Talking on the subject of pie warmers was Roy Webb who said that display was premium and that offering a counter top unit was important for businesses. Customers who stand in a café or other food outlet for a few minutes may be more likely to add to their basket of their meal if they can see hot products at the counter. 

Teresa Suter then followed on adding: “Our compostable glassine bags are designed for food waste recycling, so the beauty is that any unsold pasties can go in the food waste recycling together with the bag. With a huge money saving drive to zero waste, there is now a wide variety in bin options for compact kitchens.” 

What are the benefits of buying in pies and pasties instead of making your own, and how do they compare?

For this it is clear that the consumer looks for consistency and quality. With the art of making a pie so hard to master, pre made pies are often the way forward. The cost of buying the pies and the margins may be a little smaller but in truth the factory made or wholesale standards are so high that consumers buy into this quality. This is something that Rob Spurling commented on saying: “As big pie fans, the more pies available the better, so if that means buying them in then do it! Pie and pasty making is not an easy skill to master, so going to a producer you trust can save you a lot of time and money. However small, homemade pie companies tend to rate a lot better than mass produced companies, so choose wisely!”

Overall, chilled foods are increasingly available in on-the go and lunchtime formats. Consumers lead increasingly fast-paced lifestyles and no longer have time to stop and either prepare meals or sit down and eat them therefore there is a requirement for hot dishes. Pies and pasties offer this. Moreover, consumers have reduced their number of outings at lunchtime, as part of an effort to save money due to the economic crisis. As a result, a growing number of consumers are venturing away from the chilled foods aisle for convenient, hot, on-the-go and lunchtime solutions.

Data from market research companies suggest that pies and savoury sales are on the up. On the retail side, figures for Kantar Worldpanel show that the total market for pies and savouries is in marginal growth, up 1.1% to £774.7m in the year to 17 April. Growth in the sector is being driven by sausage rolls, up 3.9% to £139m in value.

However, pasty sales are 3.9% down on value to £77.8m and 2.6% on volume. On the food-to-go side, market research company NPD Group reports that the total meat or vegetable pies eaten out of home has declined sharply in recent years NPD also finds that consumers of pies tend to be older; some 40% of all out-of-home pie sales source to consumers aged 50-plus, it says. Price points are key, as consumers tend to be price-conscious, it adds. And it concludes that there is an opportunity for products to be re-engineered and marketed to appeal to younger consumers, while maintaining their traditional appeal. Indeed, whether it is by introducing new products, new retail concepts or pressing new marketing messages on consumers, pie and savouries suppliers are following the routes it suggest.

Wednesday, 4th May, 2016
Grab and Go

Grab & Go

In the fast paced environment we work and live in, Grab & go food has become a way of life for many but not happy to settle for just anything consumers insist that the Grab & go food of today is flavoursome, appealing and on trend with quality winning over quantity.

We speak to experts in this sector and look at this lucrative market, find out about the latest trends, developments and how including grab & go in your offering can help you win important business.

Mohammed Essa, General Manager UK & Ireland, Aviko
Gary Johnson, Commercial Directory, GRH Food Company
Mark Hogan, Marketing Manager, Foodservice Equipment Marketing (FEM)
Frannie Santos-Mawdsley, Senior Customer Marketing Manager, Moy Park Foodservice 
Mark Lyddy, Head of Foodservice, Tilda 
John Wannan, Sales and Marketing Manager, Moffat Catering Equipment
Malcolm Harling, Sales and Marketing Director , Williams Refrigeration 
Mike Clarke, Director, It’s a Wrap 
Eimear Owens, Country Sales Manager, Santa Maria Foodservice 
Kate Roberts, Head of Category, The Real Soup Co.  
James Circuit, Development Chef, Major International  
Isabelle Haynes, Senior Brand Manager, Out of Home -Tetley

Jessica Lalor, Brand Development Manager, Kerrymaid
Sanjay Sood–Smith, Founder, Tuk In 
Simon Knight, Sales & Marketing Director, Burt’s Crisps
Peter Brewin, Marketing Manager, Victor Manufacturing 

How is the grab and go sector performing at the moment?

Mohammed Essa took a statistical approach to the market, suggesting that there is an estimated value of £20.2billion per annum – a quarter of all eating out spend – in the food-to-go sector. This makes it one that quick service operators can’t afford to ignore. Importantly, it’s still growing – it reached a growth rate of 5% in 2015. 

He added: “Consumers lead busy lives and demand has shifted from traditional sit-down meal times to more casual all-day dining, with hand-held foods and snacks increasing in popularity. We’re finding that operators are expanding their snacking menus to boost traffic and profits between traditional dining times, with most planning to add full snacking menus and others looking to discount snacks during off-peak hours to drum up more trade.”

Gary Johnson took a similar viewpoint saying “Grab & go is a growing market sector, hand held foods and snacks are increasing in quality and appeal and as suppliers to the foodservice industry it is up to us to ensure we keep ahead of trends and flavours listening to businesses owners and consumers equally.”

Street food has a large part to play in the market and Jessica Lalor explained it to us based on the research her team had undertaken. She said that with the increase in pop-up restaurant openings and rising popularity of street food, there is a great opportunity for operators to add a wide variety of highly lucrative street food style dishes to their menus including Mexican, Indian and Italian. 

“A range of Mexican dishes that are ideal for the grab and go category, including Burritos, Tortillas and Mexican-style paella, inspire many street food offerings. 

“As the second most popular cuisine in Britain, operators can also look to adding Indian street food dishes to menus, including speciality curries and dhals. Cream is an essential ingredient in many Indian dishes, however using Kerrymaid Single allows operators to deliver the taste of fresh cream but without the risk of splitting when heated or mixed with alcohol “As the market for Italian food continues to be one if the biggest in the UK, operators can also look at serving Italian handheld dishes, particularly pizza. With a rising trend for premium artisan pizzas cooked in wood fired ovens for a more authentic taste, operators can capitalise on this trend by offering pizza by the slice or as pizza cones. 

“Whilst consumers still enjoy traditional toppings on their pizza, adding superfoods such as kale and sweet potato will be popular, whilst also increasing nutrition and flavour. Operators should also offer a broader range of vegetarian options on street-style menus for the increasing ‘flexitarian’ looking for lower calorie dishes. Moroccan and Caribbean flavours are also becoming increasingly popular and using courgettes and aubergine to accompany authentic African spices will add a unique stance to the street food menu. Operators can use these trending flavours to provide a contrast to the classic pizza flavours we see so often, providing an authentic and fresh menu – an element that customers seek from street food vendors.”

The flexitarian nature of dining indeed seems to be a big trend and James Circuit agreed with this telling QuickBite that: “With street food on the up and more people eating on the run and looking for a quick fix, it is a growing market” 

Kate Roberts also thinks that convenience is king.  “Consumers are even more time pressured and are looking for a variety of hot and cold solutions that can provide a quick meal on the go,” she said.

“Due to the vast array of outlets now offering good food options, consumer expectation about quality has increased.  Meal deals are a great promotional mechanic for consumers to be able to grab a total meal solution quickly.  ‘Grab & Go’ mainly focuses around the breakfast and lunch offer.  Evening meal offers that need no preparation are less readily available.”

Aside from ticking the consumer boxes there is also a pattern to suggest that everyone is benefiting from the surge in sales. Mike Clarke explained the effect it had on his business saying: “We manufacture custom printed greaseproof paper for hundreds of customers every month and we are seeing a high proportion of these customers increasing their orders month on month, there is always a steady amount of new starter businesses getting in touch with us on a weekly basis, this would signify that the industry is still growing.”

Isabelle Haynes has also seen a rise in the demand for pre-packed products, saying that the On The Go range has proven to be a hit already as more than one million cups were sold in the first six months after the product’s launch. Tetley’s On The Go range is a perfect takeaway tea choice as its simple, easy and cost effective, while offering the familiarity of a household brand.  A well-known brand is the most important factor in tea drinkers’ choice. Serving a much-loved and trusted brand such as Tetley, there really is no better way to offer customers the warming comforts of home, out-of-home.

So what next? Can this area of the market remain strong? Well Mark Lyddy seemed to think so: “The grab and go market continues to thrive and there are many ways in which operators can take advantage of its popularity. People are becoming ever more adventurous when it comes to food, a fact it is important for caterers to recognise when it comes to creating food for this market. Grab and go presents an opportunity for caterers to be innovative and capitalise on growing trends in the industry. 

“One such trend is the rise of Mexican food, and, by incorporating the versatile and popular burrito into menus, operators can offer new and exciting flavours to diners looking for a grab and go option. Burritos are easy to make, cheap to produce, increasingly in demand and incredibly adaptable, working across snacks, lunch and dinner menus – a true all-day option for operators to profit from! What’s more, burritos are an incredibly versatile dish and simply by switching hot salsa for mild, or meat for a veggie option, operators can appeal to the wide customer base of the grab and go market.”

This was something that Sanjay Sood-Smith agreed with, “Grab & Go continues to perform incredibly well, with more meals being eaten alone and away from home. The boundaries of meal times and snacking are also blurring; busy schedules mean consumers are eating when it’s convenient to do so. This was an opportunity that we identified when launching Tuk In. There is enormous potential for growth; especially if you provide what consumers are looking for – fast, nutritious, tasty food in a fuss free, mess free format. This is exactly what our curry-in-a-naan delivers,” he said.

What new trends are we seeing in the market in terms of foods and flavours?

Listening to your customers and highlighting the latest trends is vital and making sure that you are always one step ahead can be the difference between success and failure. Frannie Santos-Mawdsley of Moy Park Foodservice explained the beauty of chicken is that customers can’t get enough of it – eating chicken at least twice a week (BPC) – and it works incredibly well in a range of formats from classics like sandwiches and wraps to more adventurous options that tap into key consumer trends.

Chicken’s wide appeal, versatility and lean-meat, protein powered status makes it a go-to filling option for operators. In order for caterers to ensure the continued success of their sandwich menus, it is essential that they stay up to date with the latest food trends. ‘Heat’ is a flavour trend that is showing no sign of cooling – especially when it comes to chicken dishes. 

Gary Johnson told us “The trend for more innovative flavours continues to increase and in line with this we at GRH continue to develop our product range to include flavour combinations which can easily fit into most grab & go offerings.” He also added “Consumers are looking to live healthier lifestyles and attention to nutritional information is key. A good healthy balanced diet is a factor for many when choosing food on the go.”

James Circuit then explained some of the world trends that he had noticed saying: “Recently Korean has boomed and the humble hotdog hit the ground running and went gourmet but 2016 has started to see the reinvention of Mexican. Take for example our Moroccan twist on Mexican Chimichangas,” 

Another trends seems to be that the times we eat are changing, Kate Roberts telling us that the number of different operators now playing a significant role in the Grab & Go sector demonstrates what a lucrative and fast-growing market it has become.  With the traditional three meals a day being a thing of the past, consumers increasingly want good food at a time that suits them.   

Health considerations also play a key part in the grab & go sector, with people focusing on a debit/credit lifestyle – “if I’m good throughout the day, I can have a glass of wine tonight”.  Value for money too is key; that doesn’t mean that the product has to be cheap, rather that the product has to be seen to be offering the consumer value vs. other competitive options.  Choice is also very important and the Grab & Go market leads the way in terms of new flavours, limited editions and seasonal specials.  There is also a hunger for new flavours inspired and influenced by global food trends and international cuisine.

Another who explained in detail the current state of the market was Sanjay Sood-Smith who told us:  “Not that I’m biased or anything but I think that Grab and Go is becoming much more exciting. A pale, sickly looking sausage roll and a stodgy pasty are no longer the order of the day. As more and more people increasingly rely on food on the move - so the choices increase. One of the buzz words around at the moment is ‘culinary narratives’ and this is one of the trends driving the sector. Tuk In has a great story to tell. It’s real, it’s honest and it’s bold. We provide an authentic product, made with great, wholesome ingredients.”

“There are different criteria that apply today – foods obviously have to taste good, but also people want a product containing natural ingredients. When we were developing the Tuk In brand, our research identified young professionals as a key target market. Tuk In offers authentic ingredients with more balanced nutrition as well as more adventurous flavours – all in a convenient format.”

“World foods continue to grow in popularity and consumers a keen to explore a fusion of different flavours. Tuk In taps into this trend. Our philosophy is to ‘eat colourful’ – I was fortunate to start at an early age, when my mum used to send me to school with chicken tikka sandwiches in my packed lunch. As ‘grown ups’ we can’t always rely on mum to make our meals, so Tuk In’s three chicken curry recipes – Korma, Tikka and Jalfrezi – help to fill the gap. We’re a new addition to the street food revolution; bringing global influences to the Grab & Go sector.”

Constantly exploring consumer food trends in the UK, we’re is passionate about helping operators create menus that are full of taste and flavour, meet the ever changing demands of consumers and accelerate their business. 

Using research to predict trends is big business and by making the most of your data you can make sure that your business is in the best possible shape moving forward. Eimear Owens, Country Sales Manager for Santa Maria Foodservice explained how they had done this and says: “Three key trends currently at play in the UK are Mexican, barbecue and burgers. 

“With Mexican now an established cuisine in the UK, the next phase is all about emphasising authenticity, fresh ingredients and creative spice combinations that engage with consumers and help operators to stand out from their competitors. 

“Mexican is perceived by many consumers to be a fresh and healthy food option, a view reinforced by the fact it can easily be adapted to meet vegetarian needs, without compromising on flavour. 

“A warmed tortilla topped with peppers, courgettes and sweet potato, topped with our Mexican Salsa is a great meat-free option to appeal to the increasing number of consumers who are adopting flexitarian or vegetarian diets.” 

According to MCA’s (formerly M&C Allegra) Menu and Food trends report, BBQ is one of the fastest growing sectors of the food industry and is set to continue growing over the next 5 years. 

Eimear added: “BBQ flavours were a big hit with consumers last year and the BBQ trend looks set to continue, as smoky flavours become more commonplace on menus. 

“By simply adding a BBQ sauce, spice or rub to basic menu staples like steak burgers and hotdogs, you can create cost effective, tasty food that taps into the consumer popularity for barbecue cuisine.

“Our Street Food report places burgers in the top three most popular dishes. In 2015, 12.9% of lunches and dinners involved a burger, and this rise in popularity is showing no signs of slowing. Last year, sales at quick service burger restaurants reached £4.2 billion and The NPD Group predicts this figure will grow to as much as £4.6 billion by 2017. 

“The current street food trend is influencing not only the food we eat in restaurants, but also how we eat it. Hand held foods like burgers, burritos and tacos replicate the street food dining experience and are featuring more and more on the menus of casual dining restaurants.”

Aviko are another company who have researched the market and as such Mohammed Essa told us about consumer buying habits and why chips and potato products are so popular. He explained that they are undoubtedly favourites and will always prove a popular and profitable on-the-go option. Plus, the ability to upsell with toppings can add variety and mean fries can be priced at a premium but with minimum cost to the operator – teaming Aviko’s Premium Fries with Schwartz Chip Seasoning from McCormick Flavour Solutions for example, can generate up to 87% profit per portion of fries! 

“When it comes to chips, the ever-widening choice of lengths, sizes and textures on offer also enables operators to easily refresh menus by rotating everyday varieties with premium options such as Sweet Potato Fries, Supercrunch or Superlongs.

“As with the range of fries, variety is the spice of life and Aviko has a range of hand-held, easy-to-eat appetisers that are perfect options for the grab-and-go market while catering for both vegetarian and gluten-free diets.

“Major high street players, such as McDonald’s, have carved a breakfast niche for themselves by making hash browns an integral part of their morning service and offer them in takeaway sleeves for on-the-go consumption. Our Hash Brown Bites are a super-crunchy twist on this traditional favourite and a perfect hand-held menu option for the grab-and-go market.  With hash browns the third biggest breakfast item in pubs and restaurantsˆ, operators could be missing a trick if they fail to offer the popular side that is also perfect as an on-the-go snack.  
“Tapping into both the bite-sized and ethnic-flavoured snacks trend, our Chilli Cheddar Nuggets have an irregular shape for a homemade-style appeal. They combine a crunchy coating with a creamy, rich cheddar cheese centre that delivers a spicy jalapeño kick,” he said. 

In terms of drinks and especially tea the trend seems to be buy, buy, buy! Isabelle Haynes told us: “Tea continues to be the second biggest beverage category out of home and is growing at +3% YOY. Purchase of tea is rising rapidly, with 4 billion cups of tea consumed out of home in the UK, making tea an essential source of revenue. 

“Every day black tea accounts for 65% of all spend and a well-known brand is the most important factor in tea drinkers’ choice. Serving a much-loved and trusted brand such as Tetley, can make customers feel at home.  We use Black Tea for our On The Go range, as this is the biggest sector of the market. 

“However, consumers are becoming increasingly health-conscious and changing their drinking habits. Tea is preferred to other hot drinks for hydration and during recent years the UK has seen an explosion in the green and fruit & herbal tea sectors, growing at 8.9% according to latest Nielsen data. This growth has been driven due to the flavour varieties and perceived health benefits, such as naturally caffeine free fruit and herbal blends.  A selection of seven to eight teas is an ideal offer, including staple favourites such as Black and Earl Grey Tea.

How are businesses using technology to speed up or process grab and go transactions?

You only have to look at companies such as EAT who are actively trying to move customers quickly through their stores, especially those not wanting a hot drink to see technology is important. They use staff with portable payment devices to serve on the shop floor and not just at the counter. This was something that Kate Roberts had also witnessed. She said: “In a bid to satisfy consumer demand as quickly as possible, there are a multitude of ways that technology is playing a part in Grab & Go, with Starbucks and Tossed offering order and collection services.  I believe there’s still great scope for Grab & Go to become even more consumer-focused and personalised with an emphasis on ease of payment, greater product choice and more widespread use of order and collection services.” 

What role does equipment play in the grab and go market?

Of course, the equipment in the sector was always going to be a talking point on the panel with much debate. Mark Hogan told us that heated merchandisers provide caterers with an ideal solution for keeping pre-packaged items hot and ready for sale. FEM supply Alto-Shaam heated merchandisers in countertop and floor standing models. 

The way food is displayed can really affect customers’ choices. Attractive displays of freshly prepared food can prompt spur of the moment decisions. Display cases with bright internal illumination present products to their best advantage.

As well as showcasing the food on offer, heated display cases need to maintain food quality and keep food at the perfect and safe serving temperature.

It’s important for heated display cases to have a heating system that overcomes the drying out problems associated with keeping food hot for any length of time. For example, FEM’s Alto-Shaam countertop heated display cases use Halo Heat, a controlled, uniform heat source that gently surrounds the food and holds it in ideal conditions. In this way food on display has a better appearance, taste and longer holding life – it can stay hot, fresh and moist for hours.

John Wannan added: “It is said that customers taste with their eyes before their mouths so it is important to display food attractively. A clean, brightly lit, modern food display unit represents an establishment that cares about its customers and it will encourage sales.

“Food displays need to not only show food off to its best advantage but also hold food at the correct temperature. The design of the counter needs to promote hygiene and maintain food safety and quality through, for example, consistent temperature, in both heated and chilled food units, throughout the duration of service. 

“When food is held in heated displays, customers may worry that the items will be soggy or will have dried out. Moffat has developed a special circulating air system for its heated Grab & Go displays that gently warms the product – so pastries stay hot and fresh for longer.” 

A refrigerated food display needs a combination of effective refrigeration and high performance insulation, so that the cabinet temperature is always within its set parameters (typically 2 to 5°C for a sandwich chiller), even in ambients of 25°C.  

In terms of serving the customers, Kate Roberts added: “A number of outlets have specialist hot hold counters which enables staff to load the cabinet with toasted sandwiches, wraps, soup, chips and pastries that people can grab at peak time, saving on queuing and waiting for product to be heated. Fast easy access to grab & go food is essential.” 

Peter Brewin suggests that we must evaluate all of the options in the market and that if we concentrate on the little things then a big business can grow. Peter said “Portion sizes and product dimensions need to be clearly seen through transparent surfaces to encourage passers-by to may make an impulse purchase. 

Lighting is a key element for counters and displays presenting food-to-go products, particularly in winter when lighting is poor and even when there is plenty of daylight, some of the smaller outlets require extra light to help their products stand out.  

Grouping meals together inside display cabinets is another important element of food-to-go displays. For example, placing savoury items next to sweet items could trigger a cake purchase from a food-to-go customer. Open fronted displays are an ideal way to keep food offerings close to customers which also encourages customers to buy. 
In keeping with a traditional method, extra impulse points built into counter fronts at the till section are still valid and highly useful in today’s Grab and Go market.”

How has packaging evolved to benefit the grab and go market? 

Talking about the evolution of both packaging and the companies in the sector, Isabelle Haynes told us more about her experience with Tetley. The Tetley On The Go range has been specially developed for time-pressured and on the move customers, offering a complete solution for efficient takeaway tea service. The On The Go branded cups and POS give customers the reassurance of enjoying a cup of tea with a taste they know and love.  It is a complete solution for takeaways, quick service outlets and travel and leisure sites. 

Tetley On The Go reduces fuss, spillages and mess; some of the most common tea to go complaints. The new range prevents this as it includes branded cups with double walls for better insulation, sip-lids and drip-free drawstring tea bags – a complete solution for breakfast tea service. 

Mike Clarke picked up on some ‘buzzwords’ when it came to this area of the market and said:  “Biodegradable and compostable are key words we hear every day from our customers and our custom printed greaseproof papers tick both of these boxes, avoiding land fill is high on the grab to go sectors agenda and we have seen numerous businesses replace their existing packaging to our papers. 

“PE coated, polystyrene and tin foil are becoming less and less and customers are certainly more aware of the environmental advantages of using products such as ours, it is also paramount for any business to advertise their brand or message and custom printed greaseproof paper is a cost effective and conscientious way of achieving this.”  

Kate Roberts then chipped in and said that fitting consumer needs was the important thing. “Packaging needs to be fit for purpose as consumers are unwilling to compromise on convenience.  If the item being purchased is for on the move consumption, the packaging needs to allow this to happen whether the product be hot or cold – while keeping the contents in optimum condition.  If the product is for grabbing and taking back to the office to eat, the packaging needs to be strong enough to stand up to the journey.  

“Consumption aids - spoons, forks, and sporks - are also important and ideally, are integral to the packaging.”

The team at Burt’s crisps have concentrated heavily on packaging to make sure that they are hitting their sales targets. Simon Knight told us: “On the back of the recession, consumers are happy to spend a little more on premium goods and as such promotions no longer have the same influence over purchase – something that has long effected the crisps category.

This has given way to other influential factors such as pack design. Packaging with strong shelf stand out plays a big part in driving purchase, especially as the crowded nature of the snacking sector means grabbing the consumer’s attention when they have so much to choose from has never been more important.  

“As one example, Burts’ successful license partnership product, Levi Roots Reggae Reggae Groove cut crisps, combines the unique flavours of Jamaica in punchy, eye-catching packs - each emblazoned with the bright iconic colours of the Jamaican flag.  

“Additionally, Burts’ core range had a packaging refresh for 2016, ensuring shelf stand out with its distinctive, bright block colours.” 

As you can see from our contributors comments the Grab & go market is in good health and it is a testament to those in the industry that continue to innovate and embrace trends which in turn grabs the public’s attention and imagination.

Wednesday, 4th May, 2016

Cakes and Traybakes

It may be a bold statement but, in truth, Mary Berry and Paul Hollywood have a lot to answer for. The British public have fallen in love with cakes, traybakes and everything baking over the last few years and it is in part down to the success of the Great British Bake Off. Hungry consumers have been drawn into a previously stale market and ae looking for tasty sweet and savoury treats with those businesses in the market, happy to cater for the increased demand.

Cakes seemed to go out of fashion in the mid-to-late 90’s and whilst we all still loved a bit of birthday cake, there is research to suggest that sales in cafes headed for a downward curve. It’s not all bad news however as sales, thanks to the likes of bake-off, are on the rise.

Making your own cakes and traybakes is a sure-fire way to get customers through the door and these products are selling well both on their own and as an accompaniment to coffee or tea, but there are also a wide variety of businesses who can provide you with pre-made cakes too.

In this issue we spoke to some of the leading experts on cakes and traybakes. We talked to those who produce these delicious desserts and then sell them in foodservice. The ingredient suppliers who have looked at the industry trends and flavour combinations and the end users who sell them. In this issue comments come from:

Kaelie Akaraskul - Sweet Tooth Factory
Jessica Lalor - Kerrymaid
Jez Threadgold - Wrights’
Shahrokh Parvin - Del’Aziz
Karen Cox – Whitworths
Jacqui Passmore – Dawn Foods
Tom Battle - Cakesmiths

How would you describe the food-to-go market at the moment especially in terms of cafes? 
Home baking may not be what it once was despite the trends and the TV programmes but as Kaelie Akaraskul explained the need for cakes and tray bakes are still there. Kaelie also warned that whilst customers are spending money they aren’t spending time and told us: “People are strapped for time these days and always looking for quicker ways to complete their day-to-day tasks.

“People used to take an hour lunch break but now they simply stop just long enough to eat something. The grab and go concept is getting more and more popular especially during the lunch time rush. This is capitalising on the current change in workplace behaviour.”

American-style sweet treats, such as muffins, cookies and cakes, provide food to go operators with the opportunity to ‘add value’ to their baked products and to capitalise on the continuing growth in ‘coffee culture’. With consumers increasingly looking for new experiences, new product development and attractive means of display are also important for driving purchases.

Jacqui Passmore looked at the options for bake off that time pressed, budget-conscious operators should consider in order to save time and money and agreed that ‘The Aroma of Bake Off’ had a role to play.
She said: “Consumers love the idea of products being freshly baked and the aroma of fresh baking is a real driver for sales.”

In a glowing report for the industry, Tom Battle told us that the food-to-go market is the shining star of the food industry at the moment. He commented: “Its growing, evolving and is not about fish and chips in a greasy newspaper anymore. Everyone’s getting involved too - from the bigger retail chains such as Café Rouge and Carluccio’s through to the independent cafes and food outlets.

“The development of a more sophisticated café culture in the UK is also helping fuel this growth. Cafes are looking for innovative take out products, to add to their ‘on premise’ offerings.”

What are the main advantages of buying in pre-made cakes and tray bakes? 
There are many advantages from buying in premade cakes and tray bakes from the consistency of the products to the time saved from making them. If you have a product that doesn’t bake quite right then you could be losing money on a re-bake. At least with something that you are buying you know that you are going to get the quality you desire every time. You will also have a greater flexibility on which products you sell and the shelf life can be extended if you have products that are delivered fresh-frozen.

Technology allows for producers to freeze and deliver cakes to you that are pre-portioned and that you can thaw and serve as and when you like. This means you have a greater control of portion sizes and you reduce waste as you only have to sell what is out of the freezer. This can be the difference between profit and loss, especially for a small business.

Kaelie Akaraskul told us: “Buying in pre-made cakes from a baking company like ourselves not only guarantee that you will get something very consistent and high quality but it also cut overhead costs as well as save that extra kitchen space.

“Baking in-house can work really well, but only if you have the space to do it.

“Running a coffee shop is a task in itself- trying to add a bakery into it can be a lot more hassle than it needs to be.

“We keep up with the latest trends and are always offering new products to our clients to keep things fresh and help encourage their customers to return.” 

 Jez Threadgold “The main advantages to buying in pre-made cakes and traybakes from a trusted supplier are consistency, quality and volume flexibility.

“If consumers can be assured they will get the same quality product every time they shop, it will undoubtedly encourage repeat purchase. Your chosen supplier should also be able to cope with increases in volume as your business expands.”
This seemed to be a sentiment that was echoed by Tom Battle who added: “Using quality pre-made cakes that use natural ingredients you’d find in your kitchen, help cafes offer that home baked quality and taste - but with extra oomph.

“Pre-made suppliers like Cakesmiths offer variety (our range includes over 30 different types of bakes) and are always innovating; looking at the latest taste trends and sourcing unusual ingredients. This means cafes can keep their offering fresh, exciting and interesting for customers; something they don’t necessarily have the time to do themselves.

“From a bottom line perspective, pre-made cakes and traybakes can give cafes more control over their costs, stock management and portion sizes, which can be quite hard to get a fix on when you are baking in-house – which is a time consuming process in itself.”

With today’s consumer being more health conscious what options are there in your market?
It can be a real challenge to eat healthy food on the go and businesses are constantly looking into this, there are however gaps in the market for products for those who want to avoid a cake or tray bake, yet fulfil the need for sweet foods. Karen Cox summed this up best by saying: “The UK population is constantly on the go, and snacking along the way is a trend that’s set to continue.

“Time-poor consumers need to eat on the go, but don’t want to compromise on flavour or health credentials.

“Until recently, consumers were faced with a choice between snacks that tasted good but were unhealthy, or healthier snacks that didn’t deliver the taste and enjoyment that a good snack should.  Healthy snacking is having a huge impact on the food sector as health and indulgence remain central trends.

“The most recent Kantar industry data found that the overall ‘Fruit, Nut and Seeds’ adult snacking market has grown by 9%, and double-digit growth has been seen in the category of snacking mixes (e.g. nuts and fruit). Our own research has found that consumers want something that tastes amazing, but happens to be a healthier choice.

“At Whitworths, we’ve invested a considerable amount in answering that need and making sure there’s no need to compromise on taste for a healthier option. We’re responding with ranges that come in a variety of sizes and formats for different snacking occasions, and a focus on delicious flavour mixes.

“Launched in 2013, our eight-product strong ‘Shots’ range was born out of extensive consumer research and the recognition of demand for a convenient yet healthy snack.”

You may have read that in George Osbourne’s latest budget he announced a ‘sugar tax’ on soft drinks. Whilst this does not necessarily relate to cakes it shows that the government and the public are talking about the issue. Tom Battle mentioned sugar when he said: “The drive to reduce sugar intake is one of the biggest health trends at the moment.

“For cakes suppliers, it’s about using natural ingredients and adding lower sugar options to their range.

“At Cakesmiths, we try to use unrefined sugar where possible and have introduced coconut oil - as an alternative to butter - in a lot of our baking. In fact, our recently launched Hot Cross Loaf is one of our lowest calorie products ever.
“Raw bars that mash together proteins such as nuts and seeds with fruit – like our Apple and Pecan Roar bar – are becoming increasingly popular with our café customer base, particularly as a vegan alternative.

Dietary requirements are also something to consider in this sector and in truth it’s not just about those wanting to lead a healthy lifestyle. Kaelie Akaraskul told us: “There are a lot more dietary requirements and food intolerances now than 5 years ago.

“A lot of people are going vegan, dairy free and some sugar free. There are various companies that try to target all of those lifestyles. We have some products that are Wheat Free and have become increasingly popular.
“Our freshly baked cakes are also a lot less sweet than some others in the market. When I started my bakery, I adapted the sugar content on my cakes, icings were made to taste. Our cakes do not have that sugary crisp layer that you sometimes see, simply because our sugar content is a lot less.”

What ingredients/flavours are most popular at the moment?
Some flavour trends come and go whilst others stay forever as firm favourites, this means that ingredient suppliers must constantly look at their offering. The staple ingredients remain yet they have to be able to meet demand on unusual flavours too. This can be a problem in foodservice as some suppliers have to hold and order more stock without knowing how long a trend will last. Thankfully companies are well tuned to this and as such we spoke to Jessica Lalor from Kerrymaid.

She said: “Offering customers traditional cakes with a twist is great way to pique interest. Last year Kerrymaid teamed up with pastry chef Thomas Leatherbarrow to develop fresh insight into the category. Thomas suggests instead of experimenting with flavours, change the texture of the cake.

“Over the last few years there has been a specific focus on shaking up the dessert offering especially flavour fusions, such as salted caramel and this has filtered into the cake arena.

“Caramel will continue to play a big part in the cake offering coming months, we have already seen the traditional millionaire shortbread being shaken up and often offered as a salted caramel version.

“Caramelised fruits such as figs or pears, or even caramelised nuts and herbs will also be making an appearance in the not too distance future.

“Consumers are increasingly looking for a multi-sensory experience as cuisine fusion takes the foodservice arena by storm. Incorporating a range of complementary flavours and textures is developing at a rapid pace in the desserts scene, as savoury and sweet flavours combine.”

Thomas himself added: “Vegetables are trending in cakes more and more so innovating your cake selection with something less sweet and gluten free, such as beetroot chocolate brownies, provides the same great results but with unusual ingredients.”

Experimenting with flavour and listening to what their consumers want has always been a strength of Cakesmiths and when we asked Tom about the latest flavour trends he was seeing the answer was simple; “Tea. It’s the new coffee!” he said.

“The different flavours of tea have been – and will continue to be - a major part of our new product development plans. We’ve recently incorporated teas such as matcha and bergamot (the distinctive flavour in Earl Grey) into our cake recipes and the response we’ve seen for our café customer base has been huge.”

Our love of cakes and traybakes is year-round and as such we often visit cafes who are offering seasonal specials on their menu. This is something that Kaelie Akaraskul has also noticed when saying: “We are developing more flavours to suit to everyone’s tastes seasonally.

“As the weather is getting warmer, people will want a sweet treat that is more citrusy, light and refreshing. Consumers are being more adventurous with their food generally, so I hope that we can reflect this in our cake menu and bring out new flavours like “Peach, Watermelon and Raspberry” or the more diverse “Matcha and Black Sesame”. 

“Aside from that one of the most popular flavours is Peanut Butter, It’s everybody’s favourite at the moment but our signature flavours like the Red Velvet and Carrot Cake are always the most popular.”

In agreement with Kaelie was Shahrokh Parvin, who also thought that seasonality is important saying: “As we transition into spring and summer, we’ll see a rise in fruit based offerings including our rhubarb, pistachio and rose water gateaux, fig tart with mascarpone and honey, as well as our wild strawberry tart.

“Del’Aziz has an in-house bakery with various freshly baked goods on offer, favourites at the moment range from Oreo cheesecakes and pistachio brownies, to our ever-popular gluten free polenta and almond cake.”

“Ongoing popular flavours for us are rocky road, Belgian chocolate and millionaires. We’re also seeing an increase in demand for salted caramel.” added, Jez Threadgold.

Dawn’s convenient Scoop & Bake range of frozen batters and doughs is ideal for creating freshly baked American-style muffins, loaf cakes and tray bakes, it comes in Vanilla Cookie Dough, as well as a Skinny Vanilla for the calorie conscious and Chocolate Brownie Batter. “These products have been really popular amongst café and have the benefits of being made with free range eggs, real chocolate pieces and has no artificial colours or preservatives for a natural home-made taste and appearance. These are our best flavour trends,” said Jacqui Passmore.

How can cafes add value to their menu with cakes and traybakes?
Taking the lead on this question was Jez Threadgold who suggested that whilst there is always room to learn and to experiment, it is sometimes better to stick to what you know. He said: “It’s important for cafes to stock the ‘best sellers’ such as chocolate brownie or lemon drizzle cake to capitalise on the higher volume lines.

“They can also add value by introducing variations on a popular item, such as a salted caramel brownie, for example, that can sit alongside the core brownie.

“Offering a point of difference can often encourage incremental sales by enticing new consumers into the category.”

Sales are always key to any business and in terms of adding value cafes can use high margin items such as coffee and cakes in conjunction with each other to increase the spend per head. Kaelie Akaraskul championed this saying: “People will always have cravings for something sweet, especially in the afternoon. By having cakes on offer, people end up buying lots more than just a coffee.

“Some cafes will stick to the good old Victoria sponge but some others will order something different and adventurous - I find that by having different cakes on offer, the cafe ends up selling much more in quantity overall.
“We encourage our clients to always try to mix things up to make it more interesting. We change our menu seasonally so that there is always something new for people to come back and try.

When it comes to making money and more importantly profit, Jessica Lalor said that cakes were the perfect product. She said: “Cakes and confectionery present a significant profit opportunity and, as such, QSR’s should consider offering a variety of sweet treats to their menus.

“Offering something a little different can give venues a huge competitive advantage. Turning the sweet treat occasion into an event is a great way to encourage footfall and increase incremental sales, and hosting a Kerrymaid Pudding Party is one way to do that.

“Designed to inspire increased interest amongst customers, the party offers dinners the opportunity to taste a selection of sweet treats and then rate them, choosing a favourite ‘Queen of Puddings’ at the end of the event.

Whilst the idea of a ‘pudding party’ offer customers to try different items, Tom Battle feels that they also help the café, saying: “Cakes and traybakes add variety and innovative taste combinations to a café menu, helping broaden out their offering to appeal to a wider range of customers. 

“They can also add a premium by getting innovative with the pre-made cakes they order in; adding personalisation to a carrot cake, for example, by adding different toppings, offering toasted options or using the cakes as a base for a dessert.

For Shahrokh Parvin it was quality that he thought was important: “Cafes can add value by focusing simply on the quality of their products; other options include driving afternoon sales at tea time, as well as introducing weekend all day brunches.”

How well represented is the free-from market and what changes can be made to offer a better selection of gluten free products for example?
Products in the free-from market are increasing in number and this is due to several reasons. Over the years there has been a growing number of those who are reducing their intake of things such as Gluten and added sugar as a lifestyle choice. There is also far more awareness around Coeliac Disease and as such cafes are catering for these individuals.

It used to be that you could walk into a small section of the supermarket and see a few items that were ‘free-from’ now there are whole aisles. Tom Battle told us how it was changing and how consumer buying patterns were changing too. He said “The free-from market has changed dramatically over the years.

“Gone are the days of free-from meaning unappetising. Dairy free, gluten free, vegan are all well represented and becoming more and more inventive. We offer a number of gluten free and dairy free bakes (we use coconut oil as an alternative to dairy in our baking).

“Our gluten free Jewel Bar is one of our most commercially popular traybakes; customers find it hard to believe it tastes so great but is also gluten free too; a perfect example of how the stigma of free-from is definitely changing.”

The main driver in the industry is that awareness is on the rise. Jessica Lalor commented on this: “Across the category, people are becoming more aware of what’s in their food and the effect it may have on their health. With the allergen legislations that came into place in December 2014, operators have to be aware of what ingredients they are using in their meals and share this with customers.

“14 ingredients are covered by the legislation, which applies to food sold with and without packaging, and Kerrymaid products are labeled with in-depth nutritional information and allergen guidance.

“However it’s not just the legislation that is pushing the free-from agenda; gluten-free sales have seen astronomical growth and are continuing to rise. The increase in gluten-free sales is relevant not only to the increasing coeliac community, but also refers to an overall healthier lifestyle trend.

“Consumers are also coming to expect more from the ‘free from’ offering with taste becoming an increasingly important factor in purchasing decisions.

“Ensuring that chefs can offer customers a taste of the good life across their entire range, Kerrymaid’s Premium Baking has been developed especially for use in cakes and pastries and is now dairy free, meaning that lactose intolerant customers can enjoy a sweet treat.”

On the whole the cakes and traybakes market is in good health. The market is booming and more and more customers are willing to splash out on cakes. These customers are also willing to try new flavours.

Having something that consumers can grab and go is important and the deregulation of lifestyle means that cafes have to have products available all day as they don’t know when the peak time may be.

I think that you’ll all agree that aside from the benefits of selling what people want and coming back to your cafes it is clear to see that if you get portion control, wastage, manufacturing and cost all right at your end, these sweet treat can be highly profitable.

Tuesday, 5th April, 2016

Mobile and Outside Catering

Almost all business owners want to see their businesses grow, whether that be in terms of the number of customers, their turnover, or if that means branching out and opening more sites. Very few if any are happy with their lot. With that in mind and the fact that many businesses are fighting for the same pool of consumers, it can be difficult to decide how best to expand.

In 2015 and early 2016 there has been a surge in the number of businesses who are moving into the mobile and outside catering sectors of the market. With that in mind we thought that it would be beneficial to see why this area of the market has seen such good growth, the opportunities that are available and some of the products that you can buy to add to your business. As always we spoke to a range of industry voices about mobile and outside catering, the success that they have seen and what they think the next big trends will be.

This month we spoke to:
James Sharp – Business on Bikes
Eleanor Spensley – Printed Cup Co
Ray Hall - RH Hall
Jacqui McDonald – Excel Trailers
Bart Misztal – Mobi Pizza Ovens Ltd
Calum Richardson – The Bay on the Road
Gary Briscoe – Caterline
Jessica Lalor – Kerrymaid
Kaori Simpson – Harajuku Kitchen
Carl Denning – Market Wraps

The market
As previously mentioned the market for mobile and outside catering is growing and businesses are branching out. Ray Hall backed this up telling us that: “Whilst we do not have any specific market figures, our sales of BBQ’s during the last summer season more than doubled, showing that this really is a booming area of the market.”

Jacqui McDonald told us: “Gone are the days where street food is thought of as bland, greasy food.

“There is an entire new world of street food taking off at the moment and with things taking off it is clear to see that we are currently in a street food revolution and the options are endless.

“With pop up restaurants and cafes becoming increasingly popular, foods that were once only available to us in restaurants are now accessible anywhere and everywhere; people now expect to see these options available to them at outdoor events.

“Street food has become somewhat of a fashion, and, just like most things, there are areas that come in and out of popularity. At the moment there is a very clear interest in anything quirky or different. This could be anything from the menu to the unit itself, but anything that you do not see everyday seems to be a growing trend in street food at the moment.

“Something else that seems to be popular at the moment is having a special diet (vegan, vegetarian, gluten free etc.) or healthy eating options. Health and fitness is a growing craze of its own so there is a distinct market for these options in the street food and mobile catering industry right now. Other than these, interest remains in anything handheld and reasonably priced.”

This was a sentiment that was echoed by Bart Misztal who said that the industry was in a really good place and he could see why so many wanted to go into in. “Expanding your business is the dream for any retailer and if you have a good concept and can roll it out like we have done with our trailers, you’re on to a winner,’ he said.

How can businesses expand their offering with small outside units?
Expanding your business and adding another arm to your operation can be costly and that is why so many businesses decide to go down the mobile route or they decide to offer a pop-up or outside unit. Bringing you food to the consumers who want it is vital and as Jacqui McDonald informed us: “It’s about bringing the food to the people. Options such as small outside units allow you to go to where the crowds are. Passing trade is more likely to stop to see what you have available when it is there in front of them rather than having to go into a building.”

James Sharp, who specialises in the manufacture of outside units with his company, Business on Bikes, told us that small outside units allows companies to catch the eye of the consumer. The bikes that business buy, can be fully branded to capture attention and passing footfall that wouldn’t necessarily go into a busy shop/cafe/restaurant etc.

He also informed us of another benefit saying that: “seasonal products can be offered at crucial times of the year and depending on the weather to ensure businesses can maximise all avenues of revenue. You don’t want a large freezer counter taking up space in a cafe in winter but a mobile unit that can be stored out of the way is ideal.

Ray Hall was of a similar opinion that equipment was important and he mentioned that if the space is available, adding a barbecue offers the possibility to create a completely new menu, in addition to the existing standard food offering.
He said: “This is a great way to generate extra revenue during the spring and summer months. A barbecue can enhance special events or even just add an extra dimension to summer weekends or evenings.”

Offering choice and flexibility are key to the market and talking about how a small unit allows for these advantages, Calum Richardson said: “What I love about mobile kitchens is that you can offer exactly what people want. Whether that’s gluten free, sugar free, vegetarian, slightly smaller or slightly larger portions – you can adapt your offering to fit your customer’s exact requirements.

“Having a mobile kitchen means three words to me – flexibility, fun and accessibility. It’s not only great for street food, it also opens up the doors to cater for private events, parties and weddings, festivals and food markets too.

“You aren’t restricted to the day-to-day running of your business and when you have the option of taking your offering directly to your customer, it opens up the doors to so many more opportunities and helps enormously with brand recognition.”

We then spoke to Carl Denning who runs Market Wraps in Leeds and explored his thinking when they decided to branch out into the world of mobile catering. He said that it all happened by accident and that they are now struggling to keep up with demand, he told us: “At the start of the business the main aim at the was to simply offering our customers at Leeds farmers market the type of food that not only do I like to cook, but that I love to eat.

“Our customer base grew quickly, and having a regular market gave us the opportunity to build up relationships. We naturally grew and tapped into the wedding and event market due to our customers asking us if we did outdoor catering. We have now been available for weddings and private events for the past 3 years. We bought marquees created a brand that looked great too. The customer didn’t just want great food, but wanted the theatre, it has to look good.

“The demand for street food is growing in the wedding market, for this year we have invested in a vintage converted horsebox trailer. We have made the trailer look like a Yorkshire herb garden and called it The Market Wraps Allotment.  We use local produce and our food is very homely handmade food, so the food also fits perfectly with the look.

“With the reputation of our food, and the style and look of the setup, it seems to be a winning combination and we are already getting enquires for 2018.”

What developments have been made in terms of the packaging of food-to-go products?

Packaging and presentation of food is vital especially in a world where so many people share images of food on social media. Packaging over the years has become a real talking point and as such businesses have evolved their packaging.
If a business is willing to spend money on the presentation of their business in terms of the design of the mobile unit, and if they are willing to spend of produce and menu development, then it seems strange that they wouldn’t spend on packaging.

The main concept of packaging is that it makes it easy to transport and eat food from a mobile or outside units. It also makes sure that the product stays fresh and hot, and another benefit is that it serves as advertising. People carrying around your branded packaging whether that been a cup, food container or a bag will reinforce the quality of the brand and the perceived quality of the food.

Discussing packaging and the developments in the market was, Eleanor Spensley who told us that: “Food to go products have traditionally been seen as cheap and convenience food and therefore the packaging products have always followed suit.

“Now mobile catering and street food sees vendors promoting authentic cuisine of the highest quality and the packaging has to keep up.

“Here at the Printed Cup Company deal with many up and coming brands in the street food market and works with them to develop their packaging products to stand out against the competition. With minimum orders of just 1000, vendors now have the option of branded cups for their business to help promote their wares to passing custom.”

Talking about his involvement in the market, Gary Briscoe told us that Caterline are in the privileged position of selling their range of catering disposables into three distinctly different retail sectors, this gives them a unique insight into the ever changing trends for catering disposables.

Commenting he said: “Initially, we started working with larger distributors who were able move a lot of volume and typically needed products packaged in bulk outer boxes for their customers and as a consequence we were able to create our own tools for the most popular products and fund the expansion of the Caterline range.

“We then started working with the Cash & Carry sector where there requirement was for the most popular products to be shrink wrapped in smaller consumer convenient sleeves, displayed in an eye catching way to ensure their catering customers had the choice and value that is synonymous with their business ethos.     
“Over the past couple of years we have seen a huge increase in demand from smaller end users who need instant access to a range of catering disposables in affordable smaller sized boxes. A large percentage of this sector prefer to order on-line as they have a limited amount of space and do not want to tie up their money in stock.

“To cater for this we have recently launched our website which gives smaller end users instant access to stock held at our Manchester site with fast ‘trackable’ lead times and a secure payment system. Our in-house team regularly update the site with new products and promotions and our continued investment into the latest machinery at our Manchester factory ensures that our prices remain unbeatable.”

How versatile is the equipment on offer to mobile caterers?

“With the right equipment, a huge amount of versatility can be achieved,” according to Ray Hall.

Exploring the possibilities within the market he added that: “Traditional barbecue foods such as burgers, sausages and steaks will always be a hit with customers and very few will be able to resist the smell of a barbecue on a summer afternoon.

“The Crown Verity MCB range includes models capable of cooking anything from 210 – 560 burgers per hour, with a grill to suit to output of any user! However, events such as the British BBQ Battle demonstrate that Barbecue cooking need not be restricted to food served in a bun!

“Chefs from across the industry have been able to turn out very impressive 3 course menu’s year after year and with a little bit of creative thinking venues can offer exciting menu options to appeal to a wide range of customers. Past BBQ Champion, Ben Bartlett, regularly demonstrates innovative ways to spice up your BBQ menu.

“The Crown Verity range includes a wide range of accessories such as griddles, steam pans and additional side burners to allow a vast and varied menu. These can all be added at the time of purchase, or added retrospectively as an outdoor menu develops.”

Jacqui McDonald agreed saying: “The equipment on offer to mobile caterers nowadays are incredibly versatile. Commercial grade equipment can be used with a wide range of food. Being gas powered means that it can be taken and used at any kind of outdoor venue.”

In terms of the mobile units that can be made, James added that: “There’s a range out there from carts to trolleys to bikes and more! Most companies will make a bespoke item to fit the customer’s needs, this means that mobile caterers really are in a strong position to get the equipment they want made how they want it.”

Aside from the cooking equipment and the actual units that are made to retail from, the versatility of packaging also plays an important role in the market.

Discussing this, Gary Briscoe said: “We aim to accommodate for every type of caterer, offering a variety of sizes in the majority of our ranges and creating mixed product boxes that enable our customers to have more options when catering smaller functions and events. 

“We listen to our customers and if there is something that they want and we don’t have it then we will make it or source it. We recognise that if we can offer our customers a comprehensive range of packaging at competitive prices then they don’t need to look elsewhere so our goal is to ensure that no matter how small the customer we will have a suitable pack, bowl or cup to promote and protect their food or drink.

“So whether it’s a small box of salad bowls with a clip in fork for a mobile caterer, some platters with cutlery and napkins for an outside event or some disposable champagne flutes for a cool summer drink or ripple cups and sip lids for a hot cup of coffee, we can help.”

Eleanor Spensley also commented on the fact that versatility is the name of the game when it comes to mobile catering. She said: “With lack of storage and a competition for customers the packaging has to do more than just its primary function. Paper cups are one of the most versatile products available as double walled insulated cups have always been used to sell tea and coffee but also soups, noodles, sauces, beans and stew.

“Really anything can be achieved with the right lid. Not only are they suitable for different food products, the bespoke printing offers flexibility with branding. Promoting new products, directing people, discounts and offers and promoting social media are just a few ways a bespoke printed cup triumphs over the plain white. Our new screen printing machine has also added printed ice cream tubs and plastic tumblers to our product range. This is an example of how we utilise our equipment to aid our customers.” 

Sales Manager, Bart Misztal, who works for Mobi Pizza Ovens, has said that there is an abundance of equipment out there but you just have to smart and decide exactly what you need. “We’ve seen a real surge in demand for pizzas from our ovens as they are so unique.

“Putting a pizza oven inside a mobile unit is difficult if not impossible, but by having it on a trailer we can offer something that is unique and is a really nice idea for a business.

“We’re now looking at increasing our range to meet demand, we are thinking of all sorts from work benches to dough hooks. The versatility of equipment is vital.”

What tips do you have for somebody starting a mobile business?
Those looking to branch out and start up a mobile unit will always look for advice from those who work in the sector or who have experience. James Sharp is one such individual and through his work he speaks to many budding entrepreneurs who want to expand. Giving some advice he said: “Make sure it’s branded to catch the eye. Everybody will be curious with a mobile business and they draw attention regardless if people want to buy or not!

“The more creative the branding the more likely people will talk about what they saw and that will turn into a mini mobile following!”

Kaori Simpson echoed this and suggested that having something that the public are drawn too is vital and that quality is key, he added: “To start up a mobile food business nowadays you must firstly have a great product that you love and more importantly like to eat yourself! For example, far too many street food traders use GM oil to fry frozen burgers that they would never eat themselves, which can give the industry a bad image.

“Secondly, think for yourself - take everyone’s advice and the mainstream opinion and do exactly the opposite!

“Following on from this do not do the standard way i.e. borrow money and invest in a fantastic Citroen van then spend three years desperately taking any gig to pay it off.

“And lastly, enjoy yourself - it will be your life, so you may as well try to enjoy it!”

There are those in the industry that may seem nervous about the prospect of branching out but as Carl Denning suggests, sometimes you have to just go for it but a cautious, methodical approach is often best, He said: “Many want to do street food, especially when they see how fun it can be on the street, talking to customers, and seeing them enjoy our food is great, but that’s the easy part of the job, and what people don’t see is the amount of work involved in the background, it is a hard stressful job. 

“I wouldn’t recommend jumping in with both feet, instead start small and slow, this way you can run the business from home, your costs will be minimum, and you can see if the job is for you, but if it is for you, there are many of opportunities to grow, and many different areas to go into expand in, and it can be great fun.”

The research element is something that Jacqui also mentioned, telling us: “When starting up a mobile catering business you need to be sure of what it is you want to do. Be sure on your choices. Do research beforehand to know whether you want to work from a trailer or a van, and which one can provide you with the space and equipment you need.

“You also want to make sure that the option you choose has enough space and potential for your business to expand when that time comes. Having 2 or 3 menus that you can operate at different venues at different times is a great place to start.”

Why is street food such a growing trend and what areas of the market are growing?

As somebody at the frontline of the industry, and someone who speaks to those looking at entering the market, James Sharp has a pretty good idea of the reasons people are interested in mobile units, he told us that with rents at an all-time high, and councils imposing more and more legislation on businesses, street food is expanding as a quirky fun way to trade.  He added: “It’s more affordable for the traders and allows them to engage with their customers in a variety of locations which I think is key.

“The market as a whole is growing, we are seeing requests from every cuisine you can imagine to manufacture specialist units to allow them to be mobile!”

As James mentioned, the cost of rent and rates is often to blame for businesses moving towards outside catering and Carl Denning explains first had how it impacted his decision. He told us: “One of my dreams was to have a small cafe, some would say a reachable dream, but, looking at the rates in Leeds, it was an impossible one.

“I think this is one of the reasons why the street food boom as exploded. Many food traders want to cook and serve, but have never had the finances to take the plunge.  Also as footfall drops in city centres each year, and rates go up, not only is it harder to survive in a bricks and mortar environment, it is harder to get into.  

“The rise of street food has not only given me and others the chance to do what they are passionate about, but also it has given birth to more choice of food on the British streets.

“My business plan was to start an outdoor catering business and build up to a cafe, for us the direction as changed. I would love to have a cafe, but the main issues are still there, the costs are expensive and the risks are high. As a mobile unit if the location is wrong, simply set up in a location that is right.  

Many street food business do go in that direction, but for us Market Wraps have changed direction, and just been a street food business on its own can hold its own merit.
“Due to the current trend, it seems that larger business are also tapping into the mobile catering. Starbucks and Domino’s pizza are two business that are doing this. People want choice, but they also want quality and they want it quickly.” 
Jessica Lalor added that the diversity of the food that is on offer and the fact that people have a more irregular buying pattern, mobile units can operate for low cost, offer variety and flexibility, she said: “With the increase in unique food offerings at festivals and the rising popularity of street food, there is a great opportunity for caterers to add a wide variety of highly lucrative street food style dishes to their food offering. There is also opportunity for caterers to add a wide variety of highly lucrative street food style dishes to their menus including Mexican, Indian and Italian.”

Eleanor Spensley agreed, saying that street food offers customers more varied food and drink choices than previously offered by the high street stores.

“The chance to try something different from a varied menu and from a new or quirky brand is the driving force behind this rise in popularity. Pop up or mobile businesses offer stripped down cuisine from all over the globe with menus often changing on a weekly basis.

“The multicultural nature of modern British society has had a great effect on the ever growing popularity of street food because of the diversity of people and cultures being brought together. Areas of street food which appear to be growing are the quirky brands, the ones offering something totally different such as mash ups of different cuisines or previously unheard of combinations.”

Kaori Simpson followed up on this and said that “We are moving away from burgers and hot dogs and offering much more exotic foods that people have maybe tried on their travels to interesting places and want to bring to the UK.
“Consumers are also much more open to trying exotic foods. The other area that is growing is healthy food and drink offerings whether it’s juice or vegan food – there is big growth in this area.

Why trying to attribute the growth in the market and why mobile units were so popular we felt that it was important to ask somebody who had seen the transition from shop to mobile unit. Calum Richardson has done this and feels like street food and mobile retaining are somewhat ‘cool’, with new business owners. He commented: “The idea of street food and mobile kitchens has caught on and more and more chefs, restaurateurs and entrepreneurs are embracing the challenge than ever before. It’s a very ‘trendy’ thing to do but in a lot of ways it makes perfect business sense.

“In recent years the dynamics of food have totally changed and more often than not people now opt for the mobile kitchen with the rustic feel over the stuffy restaurant with a ten-page menu to flick through. People love mobile kitchens as it offers them ease, accessibility and also a variety of different foods to try.

“The fish and chip mobile kitchen market is one that is growing especially fast. More often than not it’s the high-end fish and chip businesses that are expanding into kitchen-on-wheels because of the quality of their offering. It fits so many different sectors, it’s a British classic and it’s affordable – what’s not to love!”

This growth in the market has also delighted Gary Briscoe who commented that the rise in popularity we’ve witnessed over the last few years has been a pleasure to see.

He said: “People are demanding more from the food industry and are no longer satisfied with just restaurants or bars as food and drink options, instead seeking out more quirky unique ventures.

“The numerous street food events like BeatStreet Manchester and Guerrilla Eats are great examples of why the market is growing. These type of events are aimed at the younger more social savvy audience who have helped build hype and awareness of the events and the caterers involved.

“We are also seeing a growth in the health food market, especially vegan and vegetarian, as more and more people become conscious of their diets and the effects of wheat, dairy and red meats, and want the option to eat out healthily.”

What sort of dishes are today’s consumer looking for?
Variety is key in terms of what the consumers are buying into and as previously mentioned world foods are growing in popularity.  Jessica Lalor however has used market research and concludes that, burgers of all varieties are still one of the most popular out of home menu choices and as such remain at the heart of any mobile and outside catering facility.

Commenting on the dishes that we buy, she told us: “As food pop-ups and burger bars look to extend topping beyond the traditional to appeal to new consumers, fresh new flavours will be making an appearance with fruity customisation options including pineapple, lime and watermelon salsa – perfect for looking ahead to a summer event. Indulgent burgers will also be hitting the market with the addition of confit sprinkled on top, adding richness and flavour to burger menus this winter.

“Easily handheld, this improved structure means burgers can be enjoyed during with summer themed events, and with a beverage. Operators can make the most of outdoor catering by including a meal deal as part of their offer.”
“With a rising trend for premium artisan pizzas cooked in wood fired ovens for a more authentic taste, caterers can capitalise on this trend by offering pizza by the slice or as pizza cones.

“For 2016, caterers can also expect to see a rise in new and unique flavours in pizza toppings. Adding superfoods such as kale and sweet potato will be popular, whilst also increasing nutrition and flavour. Caterers should also offer a broader range of vegetarian options on street-style menus for the increasing ‘flexitarian’ looking for lower calorie dishes.

“Moroccan and Caribbean flavours are also becoming increasingly popular and using courgettes and aubergine to accompany authentic African spices will add a unique stance to the street food menu. Caterers can use these trending flavours to provide a contrast to the classic pizza flavours we see so often, providing an authentic and fresh menu – an element that customers seek from street food vendors.”

Those who operate in the market and have seen success are Kaori Simpson and Calum Richardson and they believe that it’s not just the flavours but the quality that are important. Kaori stated that today’s consumer, just wants reliability, confidence they won’t get food poisoning, a creative menu and a good overall positive experience - the fact that it stops the tummy rumbling is a bonus!”

Calum on the other and thought that nostalgia played a role. As somebody who runs a mobile fish and chip unit he finds that more and more people are going back to the old school ways of eating.

“People love a bit of rustic home cooking and slow cooked food with lots of lovely, natural ingredients,” he said.

Adding: “People want to know what’s in their food more and more and they enjoy knowing, in fact they love knowing where it’s come from and the nutritional value attached to their fish supper. Folk are starting to understand the whole cycle of food now and we, as caterers in the food industry, need to be able to deliver that information without holding anything back.

“With weddings for example, people want their offering to be unique to them and with a mobile kitchen you can adapt the offering to be whatever they want. You can get customers to come up to the van or you can get the van to serve the guests – a mobile kitchen provides you with the luxury of flexibility.”

Desserts are also proving very p[popular in the mobile world and as James noted the sales of Ice cream bikes is on the rise, Jessica also commented, saying: “Ice cream is also a real contender for mobile and outside caterers this year as operators look to move away from traditional flavours in favour of something unconventional. Dessert-based ice cream offerings are becoming a real hit and have helped to push the boundaries of ice cream flavours and accompaniments.

“Ice cream sandwiches are making a reappearance with a modern twist, as the traditional wafer is replaced with delicious homemade cookies. Ice cream flavours including avocado, cardamom and bourbon caramel will be favoured by consumers this year, while further flavour inspiration will be taken from popular cocktails such as Margarita – a mix of lime and tequila flavours.“

Monday, 4th April, 2016

The Potato Project

The Potato Project is the brainchild of Russian Sommelier Ksenia Karpenko and we head to Soho to find out why her ‘posh’ potatoes are the talk of the town.

Ksenia and her business partner had an opportunity to acquire a great space in Noel Street and were planning to open a wine bar however there wasn’t enough room. Both loved jacket potatoes and after thorough market analysis they decided to take old-fashioned jacket potatoes to a new gastronomic level.

The team are passionate about providing a quality fresh menu as well as an atmospheric, homely and exciting experience for all of their customers. The ethos of the company is to create an accessible offering that is crowd pleasing, easy to eat, simple yet innovative, homely yet vibrant and affordable. Essentially they offer a delicious new twist to the humble classic!

Here’s what Ksenia had to say:

What is the ethos of the company?
“We want to show the nation that the humble potato can be more than just something you have with beans! 

“I’ve been working in gastronomy for over 10 years and it has been an incredible journey. The combination of tastes, the mix of ingredients, and the change of perception towards food is extremely interesting to work with. Potatoes are key elements in many cuisines but rarely considered sexy. At The Potato Project we show how exciting, delicious and super attractive street food of London can be.”
How strong do you feel that the food to go is at the moment?

“Take away and street food outlets are a growing industry. We feel new concepts help the consumer see how diverse and enticing ones choice for lunch or dinner is. You can discover the regional food of Italy or try Indonesian specialities within 3-4 street food restaurants. Today you can literary travel the world via small authentic food shops while having a lunch break and the best thing is that you can do it under £10.” 
What are the latest trends in the industry?

“The single-dish restaurants are in fashion these days. Some of them are created to help with decision-making process for the customer, others to emphasise the excellence of the mono-product. We are happy to be in the list of the most exciting single-dish restaurants and tend to stay on food radar with our unique offering.  

“We really like our neighbours at the Melt Room, another Soho based company.”
When did you open the first site/flagship store?
“We opened in late October 2015 on Soho’s Noel Street and immediately gained crowds of fans. We anticipated such reaction and kept going viral. Our loyalty system proved successful and 5 months later we know 80% of our regular customers.”
Who designed the site/how long does each one take to open?

“We’ve decided to focus our investment mainly on best equipment and people that worked on the project. I’ve done the interior design myself based on years of experience working in 5 Star Hotels and Michelin Restaurants. The idea was to create comfortable, friendly environment with vibrant, energetic look where stage would still belong to Jacket Potatoes.”

Why did you decide to go with this style of shop fit?
“We transformed the space downstairs from the office into a sitting area with big refectory table which is in high demand during lunch time. With Nordic natural look it gives a sense of tranquillity and also can unite in conversation complete strangers.”

How many staff work for the business?
“We are a family-style, small team of 6 including myself who’ve been the same team since opening. We’re extremely passionate, energetic, skillful, kind, attentive to guests and focused on delivering quality products. The Potato Project was created out of love for gastronomy, music, life and fun! That’s how we work every day!”

What has the public response been like to the business?
“Jacket potatoes are no doubt crowd pleasing. We’ve invested our energy in providing our dishes with identity, our packaging with a flirtations funky touch and those 10-minutes a guest spends on site is an enjoyable experience. We take seriously all feedback and are driven by passion for perfection!”

How would you describe your menu?
“We offer freshly baked British spuds with delectable toppings like S​moked H​am Hock, C​heddar & Piccalilli;​ P​rawn & B​ourbon Marie Rose S​auce;​ B​orlotti B​ean, Tomato & Matured Cheddar​ C​heese which represent our ‘Twist on Classics’.​
“On top of that weekly our Specials Board butters up even the most sophisticated tastes with delights like Sweet Potato with Quinoa, Kale, Almonds & Cranberries.”

What sets you aside from other similar businesses in your area?
“Innovation, passion for the product and a desire to inspire population to eat fresh, healthy and well-prepared food every day.”

What are your plans moving forward?
“Five months ago we have started our Potato Revolution with just one site! Our plan is to expand into other areas of London and to conquer more foodie hearts.”

What is the most popular item on the menu?
“Well, tough question! Some of our regulars can go round the menu once a week.

“Definite favourite classics are Beans & Tuna. Chilli Beef Ragu & Cornish Brie with Artichoke are the runner ups. Sweet Potato in all the versions we do is a super star potato! We have people who run through London continuing their fitness session to get a Sweet Potato after workout. Just because it is THAT good for your health!”

The Potato Project is based on Noel St, Soho – follow them @fluffy27_soho

Monday, 4th April, 2016

Burger Lad

Is there a more iconic burger sauce in the world than the one used on the flagship Big Mac burger of McDonald’s?

Last month, you will have seen reported on the QuickBite website, the eBay auction for a 740ml bottle of Big Mac Sauce and special dispensing canister. News of this spread throughout the tabloids and the auction ended at an astonishing £65,900 – although in the end the winning bidder did not finalise their purchase. And contrary to popular belief I was not the highest bidder…

It got me thinking recently. Could we ever see McDonald’s Big Mac sauce available to buy at retail – either in our local supermarket or from the restaurant itself? It’s not the most leftfield idea I’ve had in terms of burger condiments.

Back in April 2015, Gourmet Burger Kitchen released a range of burger sauces with flavours ranging from Habanero Jam to Smoked Chilli Mayo. Of course, it wasn’t the first High Street restaurant chain to bring their range of sauces to supermarket shelves - see Nando’s and Pizza Express for two who have been doing this for a number of years now, in their bid to improve brand awareness and revenue income.

Byron Hamburgers also released their own 150ml bottles of Hot Sauce (available to buy in restaurants only) in January 2015 so there is definitely a perceived market there for people to imitate their favourites from the High Street at home. Many years ago, I reported on the Burger Lad® website of a range of Burger King sauces available to buy in Turkey.

Going back to the McDonald’s Big Mac sauce – you only have to look at the number of burger joints in the UK that have their own version of the most famous burger in the world. Two such establishments I’ve been to offering these, are Manchester-based Solita Big Manc and the Bristol/Oxford Atomic Burger’s McLovin’ – both paying homage to this classic fast food icon. And more importantly… THAT sauce!

The recently released Bacon Clubhouse was the first burger in over 40 years other than the Big Mac to feature the special sauce on. The eBay canister/sauce idea was a pretty slick marketing move by the PR team as it got a lot of people talking about the auction but also the release of their new burger. More importantly, it was also for a good cause with the anticipated proceeds of the sale raising money for Ronald McDonald House Charities.

So could we one-day be able to walk into a McDonald’s restaurant or supermarket and buy Big Mac sauce?

There is a home market for such a massive brand that many people have now grown-up with. And if McDonald’s ever did venture into selling their sauces (the Big Tasty sauce is also hugely popular) in supermarkets I’d wager sales being pretty high. It’s not a completely foreign concept as they tested selling McCafe-branded coffee in US supermarkets – although this is more of a non-perishable item than the refrigerated Big Mac sauce.

In the meantime, we’ll have to stick to copycat recipes if we want to re-create Big Macs in the comfort of our own home. Or start saving £60,000+ in-case of future auctions.

Burger Lad®

Monday, 4th April, 2016

The Big Interview

The UK coffee industry is booming at the moment, with more cafes, franchises, roasters and blenders than ever. With the market so competitive and with some suggesting that it is at saturation point we decided to look at why there are so many successful businesses. The truth is that consumer demand and expenditure in the sector is growing…they are increasingly seeking premium products and are willing to pay for them.

With that in mind we decided to look at the latest trends and indeed the development of the market with Elaine Higginson, Managing Director of UCC Coffee UK & Ireland. Keep reading to find how the industry has changed since she joined over 20 years ago.
How important is coffee to the UK consumer?
“We’re a nation of coffee lovers and more than ever consumers understand what makes a great cup of coffee. We expect quality coffee anytime, anywhere and the high street has had to evolve to accommodate more sophisticated tastes.
“Getting a cup of coffee is more than just a high street purchase, it’s become part of the UK’s culture. 80% of consumers who visit coffee shops, do so at least once a week – they’ve become a hub for the community and a place people meet to socialise, work, relax and get more than just their daily pick-me-up.
“It’s not just the out of home market that’s fallen in love with quality coffee. Earlier this year we refreshed our Lyons’ brand. From research we know consumers want to replicate the taste and quality they enjoy on the high street at home.”
What are the latest trends in the coffee industry?
“New trends are constantly emerging. Consumers have become more-savvy about how coffee is served including origin, roast and even whether their favourite coffee is brewed using a traditional or bean-to-cup machine. To stay ahead, all operators should keep in touch with the latest market trends, not just the specialist coffee shops.
“We’re also starting to see influences from Japan, such as cold brew and iced ready to drink coffee. Ready to drink coffee is all the rage in Japan – the home of our parent company – and it’s an area with the potential for growth among a younger crowd.
“Drawing on this expertise, we introduced Ueshima’s Double Espresso into the UK last year. Made from cold 100% Arabica coffee, the drink is an authentic premium coffee but with low milk and sugar content. It’s perfect for consumers who want quality, convenience and a caffeine ‘pick me up’. Watch the shelves for more products like this in the summer!”
What role does technology play in the coffee market?
“Technology plays a massive role in today’s coffee market. We live in a world where everything is online and it’s influenced the coffee industry in a big way. Social media feeds are overflowing with latte art images, coffee shops are pushing the boundaries of mobile payment apps and cafés flaunt their free Wi-Fi to draw in custom.
“But, it’s not just consumer facing technology that’s helpful for operators. At UCC Coffee UK & Ireland part of our strategy is to keep at the forefront of technology and work closely with our equipment partners to deliver the right solutions for our customers……that starts with the coffee.
“Last year we invested £2.5 million in a new roaster in Dartford. It’s the real deal, featuring market-leading energy-saving, health & safety and roasting temperature systems.
“Great leaps have been made in coffee machine innovation too. The Eversys e’4 machine for example has a unique e’connect™ telemetry system. Telemetry provides operators remote access to an estate of machines and control over key settings ensuring consistently quality coffees, round the clock. The ability to accurately control machines across a large estate is a game changer.
“However, even with all the cutting edge technology, operators should never overlook the importance of machine maintenance and a support team from their supplier. Because sometimes things can go wrong, and when they do operators need to know the problem will be sorted quickly. “

In your time in the industry, how would you say that the market has evolved?
“Before I started out in the coffee industry 27 years ago, I worked in hotels. I can remember as I walked down The Strand on my way to work, I’d only pass one shop that served speciality coffee – a small Italian place with a traditional machine.
“When I make that same walk today, I can buy a speciality beverage every ten paces – whether it’s in a Greggs, Starbucks, Costa, McDonald’s or Itsu. That’s the real change for me, the market’s exploded and speciality drinks are available all over the high street.
“It was Starbucks that led the way in the UK market and since then coffee shops have become part of our culture and it’s showing no sign of letting up. Even during the recession, people still bought coffee as an affordable treat and with the market predicted to turnover £15 billion in 2025, it’s a very exciting place to be.”

Elaine Higginson, Managing Director, UCC Coffee UK & Ireland
Elaine Higginson, is one of the most influential women in the coffee industry. During her 20 years in the business, Elaine has been integral to the development of UCC Coffee UK & Ireland, making it one of the biggest players in the market today.
With coffee excellence at its heart, Elaine oversees a 480 strong team of talented, passionate employees, including Q-graders, specialist baristas, buyers, accredited trainers and the largest dedicated service team in the UK.

Monday, 4th April, 2016

Caffe Culture Preview

Are coffee sales a priority for your business this year? Then don’t miss the Caffè Culture Show, the UK’s longest running and largest show dedicated to the café industry. Taking place at London’s Olympia on 10 and 11 May 2016, see the latest coffee industry trends and innovations.

The Caffè Culture Show supports businesses of all sizes and has attracted over 50,000 visitors since landing in 2006.  Meet award-winning artisan roasters, food and drink producers, and hundreds of world-leading suppliers and manufacturers to help you enhance your coffee offering. 

From those looking to start up to one-shop independents, and from five-outlet entrepreneurs to major coffee shop chains, the Caffè Culture Show seminar programme is designed to support your business, no matter what stage you’re at.

The sessions are split into two threads.  Caffè Fundamentals focus on inspiring young businesses to develop their proposition, while Caffè Enterprise aims to offer support to businesses aiming to boost their brand.

Back by popular demand in response to the growth of the roasting industry in the UK is the Independent Coffee Roasters’ Village.  Championing some of the finest homegrown roasting talent, it offers the opportunity to find an artisan UK supplier for your coffee operation.  And what could be better than meeting the roasters in person over a cup of their fresh coffee?

Also returning to Caffè Culture 2016 is the Artisan Food Market.  Recognising that many businesses want to support and source from small, local food and drink producers, this vibrant marketplace celebrates craft enterprise and is laid out in a farmers’ market style.  From baked goods to craft beers, healthy snacks to indulgent treats, visitors have the opportunity to meet award-winning independent producers. 

Top UK baristas will be showing off their skills, a new masterclass programme offers interactive demonstrations on how to create signature drinks, and visitors can hone their coffee-tasting skills with leading palates at the new Cupping Zone. 

Research by the Caffè Culture Show in 2015 revealed that nearly six in ten (59.2%) owners of independent coffee shops and cafés saw business performance improve in recent years.  A large majority (92%) felt confident and optimistic about their business in 2015 with expectations of turnover growth (80%).  Taking the temperature of the sector again this year, the show’s Cafeconomy study will explore how operators are feeling about the state of the market a year down the line along with consumer views of the coffee shop experience. 

Caffè Culture Show Event Director Cheryl Carroll says: “In 2015, we celebrated Caffè Culture’s tenth anniversary with a bigger show, new halls and a fresh new look and feel that put coffee right at the heart of things.  We achieved our vision of giving the show renewed energy and were thrilled with the positive reaction we got from visitors and exhibitors alike.  The 2016 show is set to be even better and we can’t wait to announce more details about the show’s exciting new features in coming months.”

The Caffè Culture Show (#CaffeCulture2016) is the leading annual event for the UK café industry and takes place on 10-11 May 2016 at London Olympia.  The national event brings together the entire UK café community to learn, share and celebrate all the industry has to offer.

Monday, 4th April, 2016


Without question burgers are one of the most popular and most versatile items in the QSR market.

They are a staple of the industry and offer businesses a chance to stand out with signature dishes and flavour combinations. Throughout the food to go market there has been perhaps more change in the burger segment than in any other. Chains and large food franchises such as McDonald’s and Burger King held the mantle and were known as places to get a good burger at a fair price. This is still the case and the popularity of the industry’s biggest names suggests that there is still a high demand for their fare. Where the real movement is coming from however is in the independent and the gourmet burger categories. These markets are growing with a record number of street food traders now operating in the sector and a large proportion of them are selling burgers.

The gourmet nature of the burger business and the consumer demand for a product that is perceived as premium is having a noticeable effect of what traders are selling. There are many different types of meat and vegetarian burgers, which of course are the focal point of the dish. But where the real evolution is coming from is in the customisation.

Consumers can now choose from a range of breads, sauces, salads and cheeses as well a host of other options. To gain a better understanding of the market and find out more about the latest trends we have recruited a host of industry experts. From manufacturing and foodservice wholesale to burger bloggers and end users we round up the whole market.

Discussing the latest trends in the industry and giving us their thought on the potential for the market over the coming year are:

Mohammed Essa – Aviko
Chloé Féminier Tomkins – Bel
Liam Keefe – Bleecker St
Simon Dukes – BurgerLad
Simon Cliff – Daloon
Chris Withey – Double A Kebab
Nic Townsend - Farm Frites
Gary Johnson – GRH Foods
Jessica Lalor – Kerrymaid
Nigel O’Donnell – Meadow Vale Foods
Nick Pagett – Mom’s Fabulous Hot Dogs
Helen Morris/Sarah Cumber - Paramount 21
Peter Millen – Speciality Breads
Jessica Tucker – Urban Food Fest

How important are burgers to the QSR market and why?

When it comes to establishing the importance of certain products in the food industry, businesses have to ascertain if the product is merely a fad or if it is something that is here to stay. What started as the humble burger has evolved with consumer palates and has established itself as a product with longevity. One such person who tracks the evolution of the burger industry is respected blogger, Simon Dukes who goes under the alias, Burger Lad. Discussing the importance of burgers in the industry he told us that: “Burgers are big business.

“According to Mintel, the UK burger bar market value sales were valued at over £3bn in 2015 with growth expected to reach £3.3bn in 2019.

“With relatively inexpensive ingredients and a quick cooking turnaround it offers fast casuals and QSRs a great profit-margin opportunity. Hype and reputation can be generated and built on via social media platforms with legions of fans prepared to travel just to try the latest special on the menu.”

Indeed as with the Mintel trends that Simon identified, many of our panel were keen to stress the importance of burgers in the QSR market. Liam Keefe from Bleecker St Burgers told us that they are the ultimate quick food for on the go and you look at the history of the burger to establish this. When quizzed on the growth of the trend he suggested that it was as a result of drive through diner on the west coast of America.  

Nigel O’Donnell, Managing Director at poultry specialists, Meadow Vale Foods, believes that they are also a mainstay of the quick-service market and still prove to be a very popular choice amongst consumers. The habits that they have developed and the way consumers work and live their lives means that - “They want to pick their food up and eat it when they are hungry and when they are moving, this makes burgers a very popular choice in the convenience market.”

Offering a dish that is appealing for the customer and that is profitable for the business owner can be a difficult balancing act. Nick Pagett agreed with the previous views saying burgers have been on the top of the QSR menu for decades. The desire for better food in QSR market and casual dining settings is on the rise and that the love of gourmet burgers continues to grow.

Indeed Nick feels that one of the strongest reasons for the hamburger’s longevity is its widespread appeal. “The burger is affordable, portable, and easily customised allowing it to be served gourmet-style or as a simple classic to-go food,” he said.

Continuing he mentioned the balancing act saying that there is evidence worldwide that consumers’ tastes are becoming more diverse and varied, it is interesting that the food mostly chosen by restaurant diners is the burger. Hence, burgers bring most profitability to QSR market, making important contributions to the industry.

With a hint of nostalgia, Chris Withey, suggested that the burger changed the market and offered consumers more choice. Sharing his memories he said: “I pretty much think that the market exploded with the introduction of the burger.

“Maybe that’s because I’m old and remember the excitement of seeing the first McDonalds being built in Nottingham when I was younger. Before then, it was fish & chips or sandwiches. 

“The burger brought a bit of glamour to the high street back then. Today? It’s a core product of the industry. It will never go out of fashion, can be customised to suit all styles from roadside mobile to high end ‘gourmet’ outlet, and even the taste of it can be altered to suit everything from American, Thai, Mexican etc.  It’s as important as the bread in most fast food.”

As burgers become more accessible and the choice becomes greater, we have also seen a rise in the number of meat free options that are available on the menu. Indeed this was one of the two trends that Simon Cliff of Daloon picked up on, he said: “Burgers are of paramount importance to the QSR market and clearly the major national chains continue to occupy the top spots in this high volume segment.

“However, there is a growing focus on quality and health with consumers becoming ever more discerning. Along with convenience in terms of food preparation, two trends are having a significant effect in this market, the growth of meat free burgers and the growth of gourmet burgers.

“It is to this changing landscape that Daloon has directed its NPD efforts to redefine burgers away from the traditional beef offering to more contemporary products.
Looking at recent consumer frozen meat free market data (Kantar World Panel 52 weeks to 16 August 2015) the figures make for compelling reading.

“In the Total Frozen Meat Free Burger market segment, consumer expenditure (£) over this 52 week period grew by a significant +10.3% with volume purchased (Kgs) increasing by an equally impressive +9.6%. Interesting to note, that the market value increase outperformed the market volume increase suggesting growth in the premium quality sector.

“This retail market data gives a good insight into UK consumer trends which tend to also be reflected in the Foodservice market.

“Most QSR operators would agree that frozen food offers many benefits including convenience, flexibility and cost effectiveness, allowing them to offer a wider selection of menu options with minimal preparation times.”

Speed is of the essence in the QRS market and Peter Millen explained that not only have burgers become vital amongst foodservice in general and that a menu is incomplete without at least one on it, but that he trend has been gathering pace over the last 4-5 years and is showing no sign of slowing down.

“It is a “go-to” selection for many consumers and the food-to-go, fast food, pub and café sectors are responding with creative and high quality offerings. Gone are the days though when a cheap beef patty, mediocre bun and a bit of iceberg lettuce suffices. Outlets need to give serious thought to the fillings, sides, sauces and of course the quality bread they use,” he said.

Chloé Féminier Tomkins agreed and commented: “We all know that we have less and less time to sit down to enjoy a good meal, but new research from Kantar and Insight Traction has shown us just how huge the opportunity is, with £571million spent on snacks and lunches that take less than 10 minutes to prepare.

“As daily routines demand more and more of consumer’s time grab-and-go options are becoming increasingly popular.

“Burgers lend themselves really well to the current grab-and-go trend we’re seeing in QSR.”

In terms of the change in the market Gary Johnson, agreed burgers were popular but suggested that the gap at the top was narrowing: “Burgers are still the biggest seller in the fast food market in my opinion, but there are big indicators that this is changing. There are more and more items and food trends coming to challenge them.”
“We are seeing a huge rise in the number of pizza and sandwich operators working in the sector and as such we are seeing more choice for the consumers,” he said.
What new trends are we seeing in the burger industry?

With such a busy marketplace businesses need to stand out and this could be in a number or ways. It’s not just about the burger but the cooking method, the look of the shop or stand and the social profile of the company. Chris Withey suggested that there was a fashion element to the burger market that there has been a growth in ‘coolness’. He told us that burgers can be tracked alongside the number of beards and full sleeve tattoos that are now seen in areas with boutique burger joints. That has kick started the focus on what a burger is.  “Over the last few years a burger has become the texture only to a meal, the canvas onto which you place the artwork.

“Take a ‘high street’ burger and eat it without the bread, salad, or sauce.  It tastes of nothing.  The human body recognises fat as flavour. With the world besotted by dropping salt and fat levels, it’s no wonder that the burger has become bland.  The new fashion for burgers has put more focus on the burger itself.  You know a burger expert when they throw away the bun and just taste the burger.  In our R&D for our latest product, I’ve thrown away plenty of bread! And our new burger is big on flavour.”

Urban Food Fest founder Jessica Tucker echoed this when commenting on the rise of the cooler locations and the ‘good vibes’ around street food markets.  “At our markets we have sumptuous triple stack beef patty burgers oozing with BBQ sauces, pickles and home-made apple slaw.

“All out street food dishes have a unique recipe, meaning that at every market our customers can try something new that they can’t get elsewhere.
“We are always ahead of the trends, and have featured burgers from around the world including Japanese miso tofu, Korean pork kimchi, Mexican shredded lime beef, Peruvian quinoa and of course the classic American cheese burger.
These independent retailers are shaping the way the market is forming and are influencing some of the big brands to. Simon highlighted that collaborations between independent burger joints and food producers are the next big thing. He said that we only have to look at the very latest special at Honest Burgers. The Ribman – combining an Honest patty with Ribman rib meat and slathered in one of The Ribman’s signature hot sauces to seen that.
Continuing he said: “Consumers are increasingly looking for premium, gourmet ingredients on their burgers. A trend which has seen McDonald’s introduce their Signature Collection which alongside table service they hope to rollout to all their UK restaurants in 2016.

“Independent restaurants and smaller chains continue to push the boundaries with innovative and new ingredients making them stand out from the competition. Themed burgers play a vital role in this such as Handmade Burger Company doing a Haggis Stuffed Burger in Scotland to celebrate Burns Night.
“I also expect to see flavoured buns and more fusion-style flavours being introduced alongside all day breakfast style offerings.”

We are now at the stage that due to demand we are seeing businesses incorporate burgers into their offering just because of sales figures. Take Mom’s for example who have added gourmet burgers to their range. Nick Pagett explained: “Today, people need quick meal options, and QSRs are fighting these challenges with gusto. Gourmet burger will still be the big trend in the burger industry. Consumers’ demands on premier quality burger are on the rise.”
Nigel O’Donnell agreed that there was a need for a more premium product saying that “In terms of trends within the burger market there is a real shift towards more premium products. We are seeing brands use different types of sauces, cheeses and breads, especially brioche. They are also adding extra toppings like pulled pork and chicken.”

“From our perspective there has been a real change in the demand for quality and in terms of poultry there has been a move from reformed meat to whole muscle products.”

“Another trend is the idea of mass customisation, businesses are continually innovating and looking to add value through new products. If the user can choose the burger exactly how they want it and add on extra this is of benefit to both.”
“I think that there is a trend towards other proteins and meats, you only have to look at big brands who claim they are selling more chicken in store that they are beef. This tells you all that you need to know really.

Taking on board the changes in buying habits and premiumisation are key and one such company doing this are GRH. Gary Johnson spoke to us and explained that the business was seeing a move towards people using different cheeses to change their offering. He said: “The gourmet burger market is growing and we are seeing people trying really hard to improve their offering. This doesn’t have to be the case. By adding flavoured cheeses you can change the complexion and the quality of a burger in no time at all. Some of the trends that we see are people adding hot, spicy or smoked flavours to their menu.

“They may also offer the option of a chargrilled burger. We can offer all of these tastes with our spicy cheddar, smoked cheddar and our chargrilled slices.”

“Changing the name of a burger can also give it a more premium feel, we have seen people add a ‘Fiery Jack Burger’ to their menu, and in truth this is achieved by simply adding a slice of our Pepper Jack or Monterey Jack Cheddar.”
“Some people are looking for a more premium product or are looking for a continental twist with their burgers so we offer a range of cheeses such as Gouda, Mozzarella and Emmental.”

Helen Morris identified that there are two platforms in the market. She told us that on one hand the category seems to be all about quality, provenance of ingredients and classic flavours which have been given a modern twist with an increase of ‘bun-less’ options, salad leaf cups and skinny stacks.

She said: “Over the last few menu cycles we have seen a rise of veggie burger offerings that will begin to rival the traditionalists with flavour profiles becoming much more adventurous, tapping further into the flexitarian trend. “ 

“The other platform is all about WOW concepts, dishes that grab social media attention and become talking points amongst diners. Here we have seen the rise of sweet waffles, glazed doughnuts and deep fried mac ‘n’ cheese cakes replacing traditional burger buns to create a flavour mash up and follow the sweet & salty flavour trend!”

For those of you keen on looking at flavour profiling there are a range of seasonings on the menu, in fact we have even covered it later in the magazine with our sauces and seasoning feature. Jessica Lalor said that burger seasonings, toppings and buns are evolving into taste experiences from around the world, as flavours from Japan, Korea and the US hit the burger market in the UK.

According to Jessica, premiumisation will continue to drive sales in QSRs during 2016, in fact gourmet burger eating occasions have increased by 12 per cent across the UK and we expect to see this continue.

She said: “When it comes to burger seasonings there is a clear shift away from more traditional flavours, instead ethnic influences are starting to make an appearance on menus. While smoked flavours such as rich BBQ remain on trend, hot and spicy seasonings are coming into their own with sriracha (chilli peppers, garlic, sugar and salt) and harrissa (roasted red peppers, fresh coriander, caraway seeds and garlic) pastes complementing consumer demand for spicy seasoned burgers.

“In addition, exotic flavour combinations such as Banh Mi – a juicy and exotic Vietnamese-inspired bread using ginger, coriander, lime, pepper and umami – and Kimchi – a Korean dish which includes soy sauce, ginger, garlic and sesame – are being used to upgrade chicken burgers and in turn help to increase price points. Add to that a brand-new seasoning trend that will see tea and coffee rubs complement meat flavours, and there will be an explosion of new flavours over the coming months.”

The burger industry has to be one of the most innovative and creative sectors in foodservice according to Peter Millen and Just when you think the industry can’t go any further, new trends, ideas and chefs seem to come along providing new twists to keep the burger sector moving forward.
He mentioned that the market is constantly learning and taking from other events saying: “In the last few months, I have seen some stunning vegetarian burger offerings which have really taken off plus fillings, toppings and sauces which I wouldn’t have imagined 10 years ago.

“There is also a real trend for burgers with an ethnic twist and I expect this to continue.  This includes Spanish burgers made with chorizo or iberico pork, Korean burgers with kim chi and Mexican burgers with a spicy kick. 

“With an Olympics and Euro football championship on the horizon this summer, I expect to see plenty more international flair in the world of burgers. 

“As burgers are continued to be enjoyed by the masses and outlets compete and search for that point of difference over rivals, I think the innovation will only continue in the kitchens.  To this end, we are also adding to our range to try and keep one step ahead. 

Liam Keefe was opposed to all of the change however and said: “Really it should be less about the gimmicks and with a greater focus on the key elements, the meat & bun.”

Are we seeing a move away from burger chains towards independent traders and why?

What we know from the industry is that two things are happening. There are those who are happy to run large franchises and they have premium locations with good branding and marketing. These people are serving the masses and doing it well. The consumers in this sector are happy with the product that they are getting and they are spending. The other angle is that there are those looking for something of a higher quality. Simon Dukes explained that whatever your conception about McDonald’s, the facts state that comparable Q4 2005 sales for their non-US segment increased 4.2% for the quarter which was led by strong performance in the U.K., Canada and Australia.

He argued that this suggests that due to their competitive prices, wide accessibility and dining experience reimaging people still see them as a viable choice. Byron Hamburgers and Gourmet Burger Kitchen however, continue to open more locations throughout the UK with Shake Shack now expanding outside of London with a Cardiff opening. In his view there seems to be a balance. There’s always been a strong argument to support independent traders but each and every burger joint be it a chain or independent has its place in the UK market. Liam Keefe agreed and said with the rate Byron and Honest are growing I’m not sure that’s true, but they’re both serving reliable traceable food. They’re both an inspiration.
Chris Withey backed this up and suggested that people choose the food they want when they want, he told us that he didn’t think that there was a move away. He said: “I think its bringing new business to the burger.

“The current fashion for a decent burger has expanded the market. The high street chains have their customers, the new gourmet burgers have attracted new interest. But maybe the cool kids will find the next fashion food and move on in the next few years. The big brands will still be pumping them out. You’ll see gourmet burger restaurants closing well before the likes of Burger King and McDonald’s.”

The idea that there is room for all operators was something that Peter Millen agreed with and he said: “I think both independent traders and burger chains are continuing to see growth and strong interest from consumers. 

“The independents are often the next big chain in the making and have the benefit of being able to change and tweak menus, often on a weekly basis.  This undoubtedly helps keep the offerings fresh plus creates a buzz and excitement.  Whereas these are often the destination burgers joints which people will travel to, I think many consumers have a favourite chain for a burger, which can often come down to convenience and geographical locations i.e. near to home or work. 

“The key fact is that with the choice available, if a consumer has a bad burger – they won’t go back so quality is imperative.

Nick Pagett tended to agree that away from the corporate nature of the big brands it was the independents that are showing the creativity and the real movement. He added: “Today consuming a burger isn’t about fuel anymore—it’s about experience. Customers are continuing to look for more adventurous menu options that are unique, inspiring and fun.
“Independent traders are springing up and gaining confidence, and more creativity will always be welcome.”

Nigel O’Donnell approved of this view and went on to talk about the middle market. Commenting on the rise he said: “In terms of a move from the larger chains to the independents, there is certainly an increase in the number of businesses opening. I feel that the top ten chains are the top ten and the real movement is coming from the middle market. There is plenty of growth from smaller chains and I’m surprised that some of the big QSRs haven’t started smaller satellite operations of more premium chains.”

What toppings and extras are adding value to the market?

At places like Urban Food Fest there are an array of toppings and their street food dishes can be customised by each visitor, and every burger that is ordered is bespoke according to Jessica Tucker.
She said: “Our toppings for our burgers include: vegan mini sausages, home-made red cabbage slaw, BBQ pulled pork, black beans and feta cheese, fried jalapeños, extra crispy bacon rashers, super spicy garlic chillis, pickles and various sauces including wasabi mayo, ginger pickle, banana sauce and home-made cherry tomato ketchup.

This variety of toppings mean that customers can have the food as they want it. Indeed as we have seen in the past and is something that we have seen with the likes of Subway in the sandwich market. Helen Morris backed this up by saying that toppings are all about personalisation for the consumer, they are looking for that something extra to take their dish to the next level in terms of dining experience. 

She added: “Protein additions seem to be popular at the moment such as adding eggs or rashers of bacon to create meals that fuse different dining occasions together which bridges the gap between breakfast and lunch. This almost makes it acceptable to eat a brunch burger early in the day which then lends itself nicely to the all-day dining experience we have seen some consumers adopt.”

With customisation so important Nick Pagett related to the Fast Food Industry Report 2015 and said: “When it comes to a good burger, Americans definitely are not careless eaters. A 2009 report indicated that 75% of burger-lovers rank the quality of the meat as the first or second most important attribute to their burger. Second in line was toppings, ranked either first or second place by 42% of consumers. Even though the affordability of the burger is considered, high-quality ingredients are still key in producing a successful burger franchise.

“Adding toppings to a burger is part of burgers’ charm. Customisation and a focus on high quality and transparently sourced ingredients, unique and nutritious toppings, are the important factors for any operator looking for success for their burger platform. Sauces are equally important when customize burgers.

With cheese accounting for one of the most popular products in terms of customisation, Chloé Féminier Tomkins said: “Consumers are looking for bigger flavours when it comes to burgers and operators can provide a solution to this new trend by stocking cheese with a stronger, more wholesome flavour. 

“When it comes to adding something extra to your burger offering, toppings and condiments mean more profits and bigger margins, so operators should consider stocking items such as bacon and cheese slices as these are popular additions to a wide range of barbecue foods. Leerdammer in particular makes for the perfect burger accompaniment.

“By making a burger from scratch, operators can guarantee that their burgers will have the best taste possible, and therefore they can charge a higher price for the produce. Including toppings such as Leerdammer will help operators command a higher price point than what may be a simpler offering during lunch.

Making a full meal out of your offering is a great way to add value and to increase profits. With the move towards a more premium burger there are many consumers that expect a premium side. Talking about the inclusion of premium sides and how you can boost profits with chips was Mohammed Essa of Aviko. He said: “While chips are the traditional accompaniment to burgers, QSR operators could be missing out by not offering more up market varieties – particularly when you consider the recent trend for more gourmet style burgers.

“A quick and easy way of increasing profits and offering customers something a bit more special is by pairing Aviko’s Premium Fries with Schwartz Chip Seasoning from McCormick Flavour Solutions – by doing this, operators could generate up to 87% profit per portion of fries!

“It’s a win-win situation; caterers can charge 48p more for a serving of our Premium Fries versus regular chips, plus 25p extra for adding Chip Seasoning – that’s over 70p more per portion.

“When it comes to offering add-ons to the burger, our Beer Battered Onion Rings, infused with Amstel beer – are perfect for QSR operators. They’re ease of preparation means they don’t require skilled staff and as they’re frozen they offer the added benefits of nil wastage and perfect portion control.

Adding to the side order debate was, Simon Dukes who added that the simple but effective French fry will continue to be popular, with more toppings being added to them.

“We’ve seen indulgent offerings such as Pizza Fries but independents will look to that next new innovation such as Viet Shack’s Duck Fries - Crispy duck cuts all over fries with homemade Sriracha Jam.

“McDonald’s Australia recently launched Loaded Fries but will 2016 be too soon for a UK launch? Expect to see McDonald’s introduce dark chicken meat products such as fries and wings at some point this year,” he added.

Looking at the whole market Jessica Lalor, let us know her thoughts, she told us that: “Other popular additions include sweetcorn fritters, sliced avocado, alternative hummus or guacamoles which bring vegetables to centre stage. Add a final flourish of the spiciest hot sauce you can get your hands on and you then have the consumers’ attention!  

“Unsurprisingly, we are seeing unique topping trends enter the market too. While homemade pickle toppings are becoming ever-popular, we see a new trend for burgers topped with sliced hot dogs as consumers crave new flavour combinations, proteins and textures.

“Cheese can be complemented with flavours such as chorizo, citrus and Mediterranean flavours which will be in high demand, as consumers look for even more flexibility around burger customisation.

“Our latest insight shows clear signs of a much more adventurous approach to burgers in the casual dining market across 2016. While simplicity, taste and provenance has driven much of the trends in burger development of more recent times and will remain a key demand from consumers this year, we are also expecting to see a heightened interest in more experimental and global flavour profiles as they begin to make a real stamp within the burger market.”

Aside from Beef what other meats and proteins are popular and what should we look out for in 2016?

Adapting your menu is something that many operators are doing and the primary reason is that they see a gap in the market or an upward trend, others were not so keen on change for example Bleecker St, Liam Keefe saying: “We keep it really simple here and you’re asking the wrong burger joint. For us it’s all about the beef and always will be.

Jessica Tucker weighed in on the debate and said: “Burger-wise the classic beef burger is always popular, and at our market we also have many other types of burgers includes French shredded duck confit, German pork cheeks, Greek halloumi cheese, Spanish chorizo, Japanese chicken panko katsu, Korean pork patty, Argentinian steak and British venison which are served in a variety of bread rolls including soft white buns, brioche rolls and sourdough sticks.”

Nick Pagett told us that consumers are seeking proteins to help them tap into a variety of functional lifestyles. According to Datassential, protein now appears on 44% more menus than in 2010. That jump has been driven by more than burgers, and more than meat – including classic items such as eggs and poultry. He also suggested that customers are continuing to look for more adventurous and nutritious menu options that are unique, inspiring and tasty.

In terms of what goes into our food there have also been some controversies and both Chris Withy and Simon Dukes looked to set the record straight. Chris told us that “As a manufacturer, we know what can go into meat. Meat is meat, some of the protein additives/replacements on the market are scary. 

“I’m just happy now that the recent incidents regarding ingredients have focussed the public on reading labels.  That in turn forces the manufacturer to be more ethical in the product they supply. It can only be a good thing.

“Beef will always be a favourite as it performs well. Lamb, for example, is harder to work with as it’s fatty. So whilst I’m sure people are playing with other meats, Ostrich, Kangaroo, Buffalo etc. the beef burger will always be the main meat in a retailed burger.”

Simon highlighted the case of Gourmet Burger Kitchen and said that they created a bit of a backlash with a recent advertising campaign which offended some of the vegetarian and vegan communities. Obviously their competitors were quick to jump on the bandwagon by promoting just how many of their burgers were non-meat on their menus.
“Duck seems to be a popular choice in some quarters with Asian-style influences appearing on burgers.
“With the recent news that Black Pudding is now seen as the latest superfood, expect to see this in some format on independents’ menus.
“Channel 4’s Jamie & Jimmy’s Friday Night Feast recently highlighted the shocking waste of male goats that are slaughtered without use so this could be a viable menu option in 2016 especially when highlighted by such a high profile celebrity chef.”
What free-from products are we seeing in the burger market and how are the sales in this area performing?

When it comes to free from products in the burger market it is fair to say that the level of awareness is on the rise. Nic Townsend told us that: “EU Allergy Legislation was introduced in 2014 and as we continue to race into 2016, the industry is responding well.  A recent Horizon study1 reports that the number of brands with gluten free menu options is on the increase. 50% of brands studied in its ‘Menurama’ in 2015 have gluten free options and the number of lines available has shown a 135% increase year on year since 2011. At Farm Frites we are aware of the market driving force behind allergen-free product and are proud that over 90 percent of our range is allergen-free.

“Burgers have seen some changes over recent years where operators have offered ‘skinny’ burgers, which are served without the bun, to customers who either want to cut down on carbs or, and more importantly, those who have a dietary requirement to be gluten-free. However, consumers now seek a substitution as opposed to an omission when it comes to buns – why should they have to miss out on the toppings and lashings of sauce?!

“A third of casual dining brands now offer completely separate menus to cater for gluten-free diners but these options are less prominent in pubs and fast food chains1. We wanted to be able to offer a good quality and good value alternative to help these operators offer the same flexibility.

‘We recently launched an oval hash brown for these reasons -  to offer more choice and customisation to allergen-free consumers who want to enjoy burgers without the bread while still having all of the usual accompaniments which they may otherwise miss out on. They are also the perfect addition for show stopping stackers and grazing menu items.

“Free From ranges are here to stay and I think they create a good opportunity for both manufacturers and operators to provide tasty food which satisfies EU legislations and satisfies consumer taste buds.”

The gluten free market is growing and for Chris Withey the jury is out on whether a percentage of that is driven by fad dieting and fashion buying or not.

He told us that he thinks it’s great that people suffering from the disease are being catered for and it’s pretty easy to swap most burger additives (spices and flavourings etc.) to gluten free. To do that, every product manufactured needs to be gluten free to make it commercially viable for a manufacturer.

He then added that the clean down times between gluten free and gluten product runs, to avoid any cross contamination, makes it difficult to work. Therefore, the market is getting bigger for those manufacturers committed to running only gluten free ingredients and have the necessary procedures in place. 

“Another problem in that market is that the public see gluten free as being substandard.  In reality, a burger made with a gluten free spice pack will taste exactly the same.

“The public needs more education, and unfortunately, the perception of gluten free products needs to change before it can become truly mainstream. But the growth and support in this area is good news.”

Talking about how conscious the middle market chains are of gluten free products, Simon Dukes said: “Gluten free buns are available at a number of chain restaurants including Honest Burgers, Gourmet Burger Kitchen and Handmade Burger Co. Despite a number of European countries offering Gluten Free options at McDonald’s they continue to evade the UK menu.

“Mintel value the free-from UK market at £210m with 13% of the population saying they avoid gluten (the highest in Europe). With the value sales forecast to reach over £500m by 2019 it’s vital that when developing your burger menu you don’t turn customers away by not offering free-from options.”

Today’s consumer are far more health conscious when it comes to food, what are the best options for them in this market

In terms of being a little more health conscious there was a strong link between consumer choice and the businesses making them aware. With a burger we feel that it is fair to say that the public know a burger is unlikely to be a healthy choice.

That being said if companies can bring pizzas to under 500Kcals then so can the burger companies. This need for transparency was made clear by Simon who said: My first thought in this area is the “bunless” burger – either just the patty on its own or wrapped in lettuce leaves.

“I always argue that the High Street chains such as McDonald’s get negative comments regarding their burgers but clearly label the nutritional value of their menu so you know exactly what you are consuming. When eating out at other chains or independents, although the perceived quality is better there could be an increase in calories as well. Beef alternatives such as reindeer or wild boar are an excellent lower-fat choice to add to your menu.”

Chris Withey also commented on the conundrum saying there are healthier meats, but the UK public won’t buy them. “Kangaroo is really lean, and horse meat is a lot healthier than Beef.  But I doubt that any retailer would dare pin their success on trying to convert people to eat it. When it comes to being health conscious, you can’t blame a burger.

“You have a choice to eat it or not.  But it’s simple. Read the label and see how it is being prepared. Make an informed choice and maybe go easy on the sauces. I’d be much more worried about what goes into some sausages to be honest.”

Gary Johnson added: “In terms of people being a little more health conscious, I feel that they know where they stand with a burger, they may switch beef for chicken, but I feel that the real movement is coming from the demand for fresh products.
“They are looking for fresh meat, fresh salads and garnishes and natural cheeses like the ones that we supply. We don’t use any processed cheese in our development, only natural products with real flavourings.”
Today’s consumers are adventurous, demanding and health conscious in their food choices and the traditional burger is firmly sharing the ‘burger’ stage, said Sarah Cumber.

She added: “The format has being creatively extended and enhanced and is enjoying a new lease of life right now from bun-less skinny stacks, new-style contrasting and complementing combo topping choices and spiciness to challenge even the most fearsome heat-loving foodies.

“Flavours are influenced by global cuisines such as Mexican, Asian & South American and the health and well-being angle is being met by the rise of flexitarianism and consumers actively seeking vegetarian burgers.
“It’s an exciting time to work in the foodie world and our NPD team have developed a range of tasty and on-trend traditional burger alternatives: our vegetarian range includes five premium burgers all with exciting flavour profiles using ingredients such as butternut squash, beans, pulses and goat’s cheese. Within our seafood range we have an award-winning crab & lobster burger.”

We also heard that, “Health and wellbeing continues to be an important consideration for consumers on a daily basis. With this in mind, operators need to think about developing a nutritionally balanced menu to appeal to health conscious consumers looking for a wide selection of inspirational, great-tasting dishes – offering a bunless burger with extra salad is a great way to attract new customers seeking a healthier alternative,” said Chloé Féminier Tomkins.
According to Jessica Tucker, The Urban Food Fest concept is all about healthy, fresh eating. Each street food dish is prepared in front of the customer who can choose their toppings. All our ingredients are locally sourced where possible, purchased on the day of the market and are full of nutrients.” Whilst Liam Keefe added that his team are seeing people more conscious of where the meat they’re eating is from, which is great. “We use the happiest and best cows the UK has to offer, from The Butchery, he said”. ​



Monday, 29th February, 2016

Avoiding Fire Hazards

One of the first things that you will do when you purchase a home or a business is take out an insurance policy. Whist nobody wants to waste money, there is always the hope that the insurance premiums paid are ‘dead money’ i.e. nobody wants to make a claim because nobody want to suffer loss.

In the world of food and drink, the businesses that operate in the market, have a very different set of criteria in terms of what they need from their insurers. One of the things that they invest heavily in is cover for fire damage. They pay a premium for this as fires are far more likely to occur in a food business than in the home.

Fires within a food business can be devastating. They can result in closure, injury and even death and can affect both the reputation of a business and the ability to operate. It is for this reason that avoiding workplace fires and spotting the hazards are very important.

With all this in mind we decided that we would speak to some of the leading authorities on fire safety both for the industry and for foodservice operators.

On the panel this month we have:
Doug Agnew – Abbot Fire Group
Stephen Adams - BAFE
Keith Sillitoe - British Safety Council
Ian Bartle – Nobel Fire Systems

Why is a full fire assessment essential for any business?
Undertaking a full fire assessment is essential for any business and there are a number of legal commitments that operators must conform. In a bid to protect their business, reputation and the safety of staff and customers conforming to regulations is a must. Speaking to QuickBite our panel all agreed that fire safety issues must not be ignored.

Keith Sillitoe from the British Safety Council told us that The Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 is now a statutory requirement for all places of work. He also added that fire risk assessment is the recommended methodology for compliance. It offers the effective control of fire risks and can ensure the safety of all building occupants.

Highlighting the legal angle of implementing a fire assessment, Doug Agnew said: “Fire risk assessments are a legal obligation, this is required as part of fire safety legislation under the regulatory reform (fire safety) order.
“It’s a requirement for all premises which have five or more employees to have a fire risk assessment carried out. A risk assessment identifies if current fire precautions are adequate and highlights any areas which might be missing or are not covered by suitable fire precautions.

“The key to this is finding a competent risk assessor, not just based on qualifications, experience is key.”
Keeping staff safe is just one of the priorities for a business and making sure you are covered for all individuals no matter how brief their visit is essential. Stephen Adams backed this point up saying: “A fire risk assessment is the vital first step in ensuring you have produced a quality fire safety policy for any non-domestic premises.

“It is mandatory by law and ensures all eventualities for the use of the building have been looked at to protect the building, staff, visitors and its contents from fire. The key next step is to ensure that it is kept up to date!”
Nobel Fire who look after the installation and maintenance of fire suppression systems constantly promote the need for a better understanding of the damage that can occur if you ignore the assessment process. Ian Bartle spoke honestly about the importance of an assessment and safeguarding your business when he said: “In simple terms, fire kills and can put businesses out of business!
“A good, professionally carried out Fire Risk Assessment is essential and will do far more than just identify potential fire hazards and resolve safe exit routes for people within the building.
“Done correctly it will identify those things that could put your entire operation at risk, or even wipe out your business completely. In essence a Fire Risk Assessment will identify the fire hazards, identify the people at risk and evaluate, reduce or remove the risks. Recording, reviewing and updating the assessment then helps ‘manage’ the risks going forward.”
What are the main dangers when it comes to fire safety?
Many of the dangers surrounding fires and the causes of them are easy to spot, the hidden dangers are the real problem in the industry. Too often businesses ignore simple little things yet the impact they can have are enormous.

Keith Sillitoe highlighted the current top fire risks as:
-Cooking Appliances left on and unattended
-Overloading of electrical circuits
-Poor control of hot cutting and welding equipment
-Poor storage arrangements for combustibles i.e. shredded paper and wood dust in close proximity to ignition sources.  
Whist some of these things are unavoidable, it is not the actual fire that is the sole purpose of assessments. Should an accidental or deliberate (arson) fire ignite it is important that you have the correct systems and equipment in place to stop the spread and limit the damage.
Stephen Adams supported this by saying: “The main dangers of fire in a non-domestic property is having an insufficient fire safety policy and poor systems in place.
“In the event of fire if you do not have the correct precautions in place the end result could be fatal. You have a duty to protect customers, staff and premises and fire losses are often far greater than just the immediate damage, with consequential loss of business and reputation.”

In terms of the foodservice side of the market, Ian Bartle told us that first of all there has to be an acceptance that in any commercial kitchen the danger of fire is a real and ever present danger. Naked flames, gas lines, cooking fats, the build-up of grease in ventilation ducts and of course the catering equipment itself such as fryers, griddles and ranges can all cause workplace fire.
He added: “A big danger is that food businesses ignore the question of fire safety on their premises leading to the disasters we hear about far too often.
“So my advice is to always speak to an industry expert, get them to carry out a complete fire safety evaluation and then act on the advice given. Don’t just leave things to chance, the biggest danger is complacency.” 
Of course all of the aforementioned components are the cause of workplace fires but there has to be a certain amount accountability by the staff and owners. Doug Agnew highlighted this saying: “The main dangers when it comes to fire safety tend to be human orientated, the natural instinct is to panic.

“Inadequate training both in basic fire awareness and evacuation training is the number one cause of panic.
“The second cause is inadequate fire risk assessments which are carried out by incompetent/non-qualified individuals.
“The third cause is inadequate fire protection equipment not being maintained by competent people, whether that is internally on monthly/weekly inspections or by a non-competent engineer.”

What equipment should all food businesses install or purchase to reduce fire risks?

In terms of the equipment needed to run your business and to offer the items on your menu, you often need to adapt. Therefore in terms of fire safety you need to do the same .Doug Agnew told us that the required fire protection equipment varies depending upon what type of food business you are, such as a restaurant where you cook everything in your kitchen or a patisserie where you may buy your food in.
He also warned that a fire blanket and Co2 fire extinguisher are a minimum requirement for any food business.

“Depending upon what your fire risk assessment suggests and what cooking equipment you have on the premises, as well as the type of building you are situated in, an ansul kitchen fire suppression unit may be required, he added.”
Keith Sillitoe also came up with a list of products that he thought were essential to running a business in the food sector. “You should have an Automatic Fire Detection (AFD) system for early notification i.e. heat and smoke detection as well as extinguishing media for use in kitchens i.e. foam, wet chemical, dry powder/smothering blanket.

“Making sure you have the correct ducting above cooking appliances & ovens - fire safety equipment such as Very Early Smoke Detection Apparatus (VESDA) plus automatic firefighting equipment such as internal drencher or a foam applicator are all key, as is the regular cleaning of the internal lining of all ducting, he said.”
Going back to the initial assessment, Stephen Adams highlighted that this will help identify the equipment needed when he told us: “A quality fire risk assessment will identify all potential fire hazards that will need to be actioned.
“There is no ‘one solution fits all’ answer to this. Every building will need its own assessment to acknowledge all dangers and what can be implemented to eliminate or reduce these risks.
“Some may only require fire extinguishers or blankets alongside their fire detection and alarm system and some may require a fire suppression system depending on the scale of their kitchen etc.”
Ian Bartle agreed that the systems should be implemented after the assessment and suggested some of the most common for the food industry. He said: “As previously mentioned, any system installed should only be done after a comprehensive fire risk assessment has been completed.

“There are a number of approved fire suppression systems on the market including Wet Chemical, Water Mist and Condensed Aerosol. Some providing more flexibility of install parameters and faster reaction to fire than others.
“Choice of system should never be made on just one point of argument, it’s the fire suppression system as a whole that needs to be considered with the sum of parts including - fire suppression and post fire security capability, post discharge clean up, environmental impact, ease of installation and service, reliability and longevity, cost and aesthetics.”

What documents, checks and courses should business owners keep up to date with to ensure fire safety?

Recording all of the information that you can is not only a sign of good practice but is a legal requirement. Making sure that you are up to date with paperwork, training and that the equipment is regularly checked is of the upmost importance.
Stephen Adams told us that as a business owner your fire risk assessment must be reviewed regularly and again if any changes are made to the use of the building. Any points that have been actioned from your initial assessment (e.g. procuring fire extinguishers/fire detection and alarm systems/emergency lighting) must be maintained frequently and tested regularly to ensure they are working correctly.
Another to agree with this point was Ian Bartle who suggested that every establishment has a requirement under the RRO to carry out a fire risk assessment.

“This is a legal requirement with Fire Services now successfully prosecuting more and more managers and owners of businesses for failing to carry out that responsibility.
“Also, insurance companies are more proactive than they have ever been at risk management and risk improvements. An effective assessment coupled to a service of the fire system ensures that the kitchen as a whole is risk assessed.”
In terms of supporting documents, Keith Sillitoe explained that all businesses should possess a Fire Log book which will contain records of weekly fire alarm and emergency lighting testing. It will also keep a fire evacuation drill record and notes on any staff training & fire warden/marshall allocation.

Businesses should also keep an emergency plan in the event of fire, planned maintenance records in relation to fire alarm, extinguisher and emergency lighting service records and a current fire risk assessment with evidence of remedial actions where these are identified.

When it comes to training Keith also recommended that Fire Risk Assessment one-day courses are suitable for staff involved in supporting fire safety at work and the NEBOSH Fire Safety & Risk Management qualification is for staff designated as the responsible person for fire safety in a business.

Keeping your paper work safe is a huge priority, and something that Doug Agnew was keen to stress, he said: “Business owners should keep log of visits from the company which comes out and services their fire protection equipment, an example would be a log book which is used for fire alarms, you can note down when you test your fire alarm as well. 
“They should also keep a copy of the certificates their staff receive after completing fire safety training.
“We recommend that businesses keep a copy of their fire risk assessment in a safe place so they can keep track of when they last had one done and when it’s time to carry out another fire risk assessment.”

What training should businesses offer their staff to ensure fire prevention?

After identifying risks the implementation of the fire procedures and the offer of staff training is vital.
According to Stephen all staff should be aware of the fire safety policy for the building they work in. In the event of fire, educated staff members can assess situations better and begin the evacuation process quicker for visitor and customer safety as well as their own.

Ian Bartle agreed and reinforced the message that fire safety is very much a requirement of the employer. Regular service and maintenance of the installation, covers certificates and ensures necessary approvals are met. Businesses can also assist in the process of fire prevention by placing a fixed installation. Doug Agnew was of a similar opinion and said that businesses should offer their staff a minimum of basic fire training. “This is the most common type of fire training taken out by businesses.

“Basic fire training is there to educate staff on how to spot fire risks and how to avert unnecessary fires by helping widen staff’s understanding of safety and fire risks. “Training them so that they know what to do in case of a fire, and also how to prevent them is a must,” he said.

In terms of training, Keith highlighted three main point that he thought were essential.
1) Highlighting in-house emergency evacuation procedures and offering fire warden marshall training for volunteers
2) Offering safe fire extinguisher usage for volunteers
3) Clearly explaining fire alarm actuation procedures and emergency evacuation for visitors.

“It is also important to engage in regular active workplace inspections to identify fire risks i.e. overloaded electrical sockets, poor storage of combustibles and inappropriate use of cooking equipment, blocked fire exit routes and poor security.
All in all we feel that it is clear that there are many consideration to make when it comes to the safety of your business and the people who work in or visit it. Ensuring that to speak to a qualified professional about the dangers to a business in the foodservice industry is and must. Doing this will allow you to plan for the prevention of workplace fires and in the event of an accident, will prepare you to deal with them efficiently and most importantly safely

Having taken the points of our panel into consideration it is clear that keeping all you fire equipment correctly maintained is essential. It is also key to the safety of your business that all paperwork and training are kept up to date and that you grow with the business in terms of your understanding of fire safety. If you maintain log books and do you research on the equipment that you will need you are halfway there. In terms of the other half, that requires you to highlight the dangers and isolate them. Removing human error or the likelihood of it is a top priority and if all else fails businesses must be in a position to calmly execute their extinguishing and evacuation procedures depending on the situation.

Monday, 29th February, 2016
Seasoned wings

Sauces And Seasonings

The food industry is a very simple one, the concepts are easy to understand and trends come and go. Standing out from the crowd however can be very difficult. The consumers of today are a savvy bunch, many of them can afford little time on decision making when it comes to food, and the deregulation of lifestyles means that people are looking for complete, food to go meals, when and where they want them. 

To gain a better understanding of the market and to find out what the latest trends and innovations are, we spoke to some of the leading experts in the industry. We discussed the products that are currently available, the new flavours that are being developed and where the influence comes from. 

We spoke to: 
Al Thaker – McCormick (UK) Ltd 
John Glover – Real Sauces 
Graham Kille – Frima UK 
Edward Wilson – American Chip Spice 
Warren Dean – The Joint 
Brian Yip – Wing Yip
Leon Mills - Knorr
Ruth Christianson – Maize Blaze 
Emma Macdonald -The Bay Tree   
David Bryant – Major International 
Desiree Parker – The Foraging Fox

When it comes to the most popular sauces on the menu there was a real variety of flavours that were highlighted by the panel. Some suggested that the more traditional flavours were still hugely popular, others said that they made their own signature sauces and that they were often a twist on a classic. Some of those who work at the development end of the market were looking at new flavours and explained how they are working on introducing flavours from across the globe.
One brand who are convinced that there is still a very strong market for classic condiments are Rich Sauces, Discussing the work that his team are carrying out was John Glover, who told us: “You always have the classics, mayo, ketchup, mustard and sweet chilli, where the change comes from is in the demand for a more premium version of them.

“As a result we are definitely seeing increased sales of our premium versions and that businesses are identifying sauces as a USP in the food to go market. A desire to increase the quality of ingredients is huge in the market right now.
“There is also a trend towards healthy eating and we have had feedback to suggest that the health benefits of us only using British refined rapeseed oil is also swaying buying decisions along with the provenance of the ingredients we use. But ultimately taste is key.” 
McCormick are another company who are looking at the latest flavours but noted that the popularity of certain ingredients meant that they were still required as a base. Al Thaker explained to us that following tomato, chillies are the most frequent flavour components in new sauce product launches in the UK, and have been especially popular over the last two-year period. 

He said: “Today’s diners are really hooked on fiery flavours and chillies are key to meeting their adventurous global-inspired appetite. Nearly half of consumers add extra heat to their dishes, according to our research, and one in 10 insist they can’t eat the dish without some heat.  
“McCormick Flavour Forecast has been tracking the growing interest in heat since its inception in 2000, identifying upcoming spicy flavours including chipotle, peri-peri and harissa.” 
Warren Dean for the joint was another who was interested in experimenting with heat and said that in his businesses that hot sauces are popular. “You only have to see Heinz came out with an interpretation of the famous Huy Fong Sriracha sauce.
“They’ve also released BBQ sauces and smokey flavoured marinades - you can always tell what’s popular when big brands come out with their versions.” 
Aside from heat and the smokey flavours that we associate with America the street food revolution in the UK has led to consumers trying a whole array of world foods. These businesses become popular for their signature dishes and if they are really successful then move from one site to two, three or more. This popularity is a great way for them to get a large following and open a permanent location. Another thing that street food does is to give consumers the choice they want. Street food markets often have eight of ten different stalls and they all invite you in with samples and tasters, it means that you can change your eating habits when you want.

This variety opens up the consumers’ eyes and ultimately means that the larger companies have to follow suit and develop products of their own for retail and the mass market. You only have to look at a large franchise like Subway to see how many sauces they offer for essentially one product – the sandwich.

With world foods being such a big trend suppliers such as Wing Yip understand the need to create sauces for retail and foodservice. Brian Yip explained that UK consumers are becoming increasingly adventurous with tastes and flavours, demanding more unusual dishes from more exotic cuisines. This is encouraging the growth in sales of flavoursome, authentic Oriental sauces.

While Oriental favourites such as hoisin and sweet and sour continue to stand out as UK favourites, more exotic options, such as the Thai-inspired Mai Siam sauces and pastes are also proving popular. The Mai Siam Thai Sriracha Chilli Sauce, available in a two-litre bottle, can add a kick to any dish, and is great for use as a dipping sauce or splashed into stir-fries.

Speaking about the development stage of the sauces and seasoning industry were Edward Wilson from American Chip Spice and Brian Eastment, Major’s Executive Development Chef.
Brian commented: “For us our new range of Pan-Asian Broths is going from strength to strength. Consumers are beginning to look more closely at the food they eat, and are asking more questions about the related impacts on public health, the environment, and the ability to feed a growing population.

“Combined with exciting developments in hospital and school food, Major felt it was time to work together with their customers to normalise the provision of fresh, healthy food all the way down the supply chain. Our Pan-Asian range is quick to use and is perfect when poured over fresh vegetables. 

“Jamaican flavours are going to be warming up our taste buds this year. The expansion of Caribbean food chains, such as Turtle Bay and Levi Roots’ Caribbean Smokehouse, shows there is clearly a consumer demand for these sunshine flavours. In line with this trend, the latest addition to our range of table sauces is Jerk Sauce. Jamaica promotes itself as the ‘home of all right’ – but their famous hot sauce is more than just ‘all right’!
“Our interpretation combines the fruity sweetness of honey and apricot with the aromatic flavours of ginger, allspice, red chilli and garlic.   

“South American food has been exceptionally popular for the past couple of years with Peruvian and Ecuadorian dining hitting the mainstream. The Rio Olympics this summer will ensure this trend continues to develop. We are all set to enjoy a carnival of world flavours in 2016!”   

Edward looked at the seasoning side of things and said: “Well obviously we do a range of products and although they are not new to the market we are constantly changing the items that we offer to make sure they are in line with customer expectations.

“The chip spice offers that added value and flavour to the product and gives a more premium feel to the chips in the mind of the customer. The flavour that it adds is really popular and we also do a range of spice and herb blends for sausages and burgers.
“We look closely at what people are selling and take this influence to the mass market production of our products.”

Continuing on the trends of heat and world flavours was Ruth Christianson, whose Columbian street food uses flavours from across the country. She said: “Yes heat is very popular and the best way to do this is through sauces and seasonings.
“There are some great chilli sauces and mustard dressings floating about on the market. We use a simple chilli sauce at the moment made from crushed chillies,  seeds and all. 

With all of this in mind and by looking at what is popular at the moment you could be forgiven for thinking that these products will stick around forever. They will continue to sell of that there is no question but with cheap travel and people from other countries and cultures coming to the UK, there is always a new flavour or dish. This means that businesses have to stay ahead so we asked the panel what they thought the new and exciting flavours and trends for 2016 will be.
Al Thaker was one of the first to comment saying that the team at McCormick were seeing more flavours such as Sriracha and Chipotle working their way into the mainstream.  

Their latest report, the Flavour Forecast 2016, highlights underexplored South East Asian fare such as Malaysian and Filipino food would be popular and that there would continue to be an ‘evolution of our insatiable appetite for spicy foods.’ 
It shows the next wave of this trend is a combination of hot yet ‘tangy’ flavours. “Spicy finds a welcome contrast with tangy accents to elevate the eating experience. This trend is captured by Peruvian chillies like rocoto, ají amarillo and ají panca paired with lime,” he said.  

He also warned businesses to look out for Southeast Asian sambal sauce made with chillies, rice vinegar and garlic. Talking on the Asian trent Brian Yip added: “Thai food has become far more mainstream, with the exotic, sweet and savoury flavours encouraging consumers nationwide to step out of their comfort zone and try Thai dishes. With this in mind, 2016 is a year for operators to experiment by introducing Oriental food to their menus, above the traditional noodles and stir-fries. In fact, recent research conducted by Wing Yip in the Oriental Food Trends Report has revealed that 56% of people in the UK have tried Thai food – demonstrating the willingness of UK consumers to try new cuisines.”
According to John Glover 2016 will be a really exciting year for the foodservice industry and said that there are a lot of exciting flavours becoming more common in the market in 2016.

Talking to the team here at QuickBite he said: “I would expect to see Siracha on more menus this year as consumers are more familiar with this hot sauce. BBQ and wing type sauces will also continue to be more prevalent as the street food trend is still driving a lot of what will be happening in 2016. We are launching a couple of sauces in this segment in March to satisfy this growing demand.”

Something that we have noticed here at QuickBite is that there has been a rise in the number of people talking about and buying gluten free products. There are those who suffer from coeliac disease and those who simply follow a low or gluten free diet. The sauces in the market which cater for these diets are vital and there seems to be an upward trend in sales. One such team who are focusing on expanding their gluten free range are Knorr. We spoke to Leon Mills who said: “One trend the quick service industry should expect in 2016 is a ‘free from’ explosion – particularly gluten-free and gluten free sauces. According to research from KNORR, 72% of operators currently offer gluten-free menu items and 65% of operators say they want to offer more.

“Last year, sales of gluten-free products hit £184m. That’s set to rise 15% year-on-year. The trend has been influenced by the increased awareness of coeliac disease. While many now opt for a gluten-free diet – it isn’t a lifestyle choice for sufferers of coeliac disease. In fact, Coeliac UK’s membership grows by another 1,200 people every single month.

“And when it comes to where they eat - 80% of coeliac sufferers are the decision makers on where their group go. So if you aren’t set up for gluten-free dining, it’s not just coeliac sufferers’ business you’re missing out on.”
In truth it seems as though the movement in the industry is not coming just in the form of sauces and seasonings but in the places from which we all draw our influence. Speaking to our experts we found that they all have a very different take on where the next wave is coming from. Edward said that although it sounds like he is always promoting American food with his American Chip Spice brand the truth was that on a larger scale than street food the US lead the way. He told us: “All of the big foodie trends that come to the UK come from America, they lead the way and once they get to London they slowly filter out across the country.

“There are so many people in the US and they are all different with different backgrounds and they all bring something different to the market. If we can go through our changes ahead of the market we can launch new flavours ready to hit the consumers.”

The variety of the market was shown by the angles that the different end users take. Ruth Christianson, who Columbian street food stall focuses on flavour,  told us that last year she saw a lot of bourbon-based sauces but this year seems to be all about the aromatic spices and herbs.

“We have introduced a second flavour layer to our grilled chicken in Camden Market on top of our Colombian tomato-based marinade. We now add an oregano and thyme olive oil when the chicken is almost cooked. Adding it late means the olive oil retains its health benefits and the aromas are amazing!” 

Warren was also keen to comment on 2016 trends saying: “This year will be dictated by healthy eating and healthy alternatives. I just came back from South Africa and at the moment there is a huge movement. People are using lots of flavours from coconut, milk, flour, oil and dressings you name it. I think tropical Asian flavours will be influential and also smoke, citrus and chilli.  

David Bryant tends to agree with Warren that Eastern influences were big. “Korean is going to have a massive impact on trends this year. That coupled with healthy eating and push on reducing salt and sugar, something we at Major have been at the forefront of with our exciting product development.”

Healthy eating as a trend and the things we add to our foods are often under scrutiny. Desiree Parker related to this by saying: “The never-ending media coverage around food production and nutrition has undoubtedly affected some consumers’ eating habits. In foodservice, caterers are under pressure to remove artificial ingredients from their menus and offer foods that taste good and are good for you.
“We specifically developed both our Beetroot Ketchup recipes as delicious, healthier alternatives to other sauces. Free from allergens, artificial colouring, flavourings and sweeteners, and packed with vitamins, minerals and antioxidants – consumers can definitely feel good about adding a splodge of our Beetroot Ketchup.

“Many of the key trends that we’re seeing involve chilli in one form or another – from Gochujang to Sriracha, it demonstrates the truly global influence. The latest ‘hot’ addition to The Foraging Fox family acknowledges this love of spice. We’ve combined chilli and horseradish, to deliver a pleasing, lip-tingling heat. It’s a more grown up accompaniment that offers fantastic versatility.”

When we talk about influences in the market we mustn’t just concentrate on the locations of the food but the industry influences. This in a way is why we write these features and look across many different companies and demographics.
Al Thaker again pointed to the flavour report and said that as well as South East Asian fare, tropical Asian food was influencing the product that they make or would be developing. “The vibrant cuisine and distinctive flavours of Malaysia and the Philippines sees adventurous palates seeking bold new tastes, such as Pinoy BBQ, a popular Filipino street food, flavoured with soy sauce, lemon, garlic, sugar, pepper and banana ketchup. 

“Another taste bud tantaliser is Rendang Curry, a Malaysian spice paste which delivers mild heat, made from chillies, lemongrass, garlic, ginger, tamarind, coriander and turmeric,” he said.

Street food is still a big influence on the food to go segment. John Glover said it was obvious that a lot of the media noise comes from London but there are some influential independent traders regionally. John was quick to mention one such trader saying: “You only have to look at Kevin Pyke at Pyke ‘n’Pommes in Derry. He is doing something really great and is doing some really exciting combinations.

“American BBQ is still very much influencing food to go and we have responded to this with the launch of our new South Carolina Style Mustard BBQ Sauce. We have gone from two BBQ style sauces to seven in 3 years. Ruth agreed with the street food trend and said that the influences of the traders that I rub shoulders with are truly global. It’s really inspiring to see the way people mix their own backgrounds with the London palate to create mouthwatering street food menus. My own background and inspiration is my childhood in my mother’s homeland, Colombia. 

Those do not get enough praise in the industry are the chef who in turn dream up the flavour combinations, Warren added that he thought the influence is definitely coming from innovative and creative chefs and cooks.
“They are looking for exciting flavours to elevate simple quality dishes. Which will inevitably make them stand out from the rest,” he said.

The consumers are now demanding more from their money and where possible using locally sourced produce according to James Circuit Development Chef of Major International. Travel is a guaranteed way for people to try different foods and Brian Yip said: “As revealed by the recent Oriental Food Trends Report, an increase in long-haul travel to Asian countries is encouraging UK consumers to experiment with new cuisines. Of those who have visited Thailand, 71% said that they are now more inclined to eat Thai-inspired dishes, as opposed to only 39% of those who have never visited the country. This was similar for other Asian countries, including Japan and Malaysia. This is helping to raise awareness of the more exotic sauces and seasonings, encouraging operators to experiment more with their menus.”

Adding value is one of the most important things for a business to do and there are various ways to do this.

Graham Kille, Managing Director of FRIMA UK, told us how we could add value by making our own sauces. He said: “Consumers are impressed when menus can boast of signature, in-house sauces and they can command premium prices, which is a bonus as considerable cost savings can be achieved when making sauces as opposed to buying them in.

“However making these products in house can cause headaches because they tie up hobs and require constant monitoring, stirring to prevent burning, sticking, lumps forming or boiling over. 
“The FRIMA VarioCooking Center Multificiency, takes all the worry and hard work out of making perfect sauces. It is a modern, high-tech piece of cooking equipment that combines all the functions of a kettle, fryer, griddle, bratt pan and pressure cooker in one unit. It also replaces large pots and pans.  So when it’s not being used to make sauces it can make lots of other things such as stews, omelettes, vegetables, chips, curries, rice dishes and pasta to name a few. It’s four times as fast, and uses 40 per cent less energy, than conventional cooking appliances. 

“It’s the pure simplicity of cooking a sauce with it, is that it make the chef’s lives easier. The unit has a network-like heating structure under the base of the pan, distributes heat evenly preventing scorching and hot spots. It also constantly monitors the sauce so it doesn’t boil over or stick to the bottom of the pan. 

“When the sauce is ready, cleaning of the pans is quick and easy. The integral hose ensures every part of the pan is cleaned, so it can be ready to cook something else in as little as two minutes. There’s no need to carry heavy pots and pans about the kitchen any more, the tilting mechanism drains away the wash water leaving the sparkling clean pans ready to start again, all of these help to save on time and cost and give you a product that your customers come back for.” 
The team at Major countered this by highlighting the fact that there are an array of products ready to buy. According to development chef, Brian Eastment: “Stocks and sauces on the market today are very aware of the nutritional values needed for a healthy balanced diet and many have a low salt contents, are gluten free and contain no artificial additives or preservatives. They are made using the finest ingredients, contain minimum levels of salt and are quite often endorsed by chef organisations nationwide.  For this reason and for the additional benefits it brings in taking the hassle and stress away, the majority of today’s busy kitchens do invest wisely in a good stock.  

“Always use good natural ingredients locally sourced wherever possible and if budget allows.  The end result will stand a better chance of delivering more flavour to your dishes.  It’s important to align menus with seasonal food offerings and production to ensure ingredients are available, not too pricey and less energy has been used in production. 

“Consumers are increasingly adventurous, hungry for exciting new flavour experiences and offering adventurous sauces enables differentiation in the very competitive marketplace, keeping customers happy and coming back for more.”
Adding value without compromising on quality is very important as Brian Yip highlighted. He told us that sauces and seasonings are an easy way to add inspiration to simple menu items, instantly providing great taste and flavour, without the need for hours spent in the kitchen to perfect dishes. The range of ready-made sauces from Wing Yip allows operators to create authentic tasting Oriental dishes in a cost-effective way, creating menus that respond to consumer demand without the need for investing in a high volume of unusual ingredients. 

Across all sectors, consumers are always looking for more premium products and dishes which are authentic and quality. When choosing sauces and seasonings for Oriental cuisine, it is authenticity and flavour that is most important for operators to recognise and promote, encouraging consumers to immerse themselves in a new culture with every dish.

Al Thaker and Edward Wilson motioned that seasonings were the best way to add value, saying seasonings can enable caterers to make additional profits by encouraging upselling. Al said that: “Using products such as Chip Seasoning from Schwartz, it enables operators to add an extra 25p plus on a portion of fries or wedges. Products such as this offer a golden opportunity to increase profits, this was also backed up by Edward whose own blend of chip spices allow for the operator to charge a higher price and make a better return on their items. Edward said: “As far as I understand, Chips are still one of the most profitable items in the market and we are helping to make a popular choice with the customers more rewarding for business owners.”

Somebody who has had experience with this was Ruth who said: Seasonings can be added during the cooking process to add depth of flavour and create a signature taste that customers will recognise and come back for. Sauces can be made to offer to customers to serve themselves, which adds value to their own experience as they can adapt the flavour subtly to their own palate and therefore enjoy it more. 
Whilst Warren added: “These flavours and products make a dish unique to that one place therefore creating a unique experience in taste that will get people talking. I think any food based business that uses their own sauces or seasonings, understands food has pride in their product and in what they are doing. With anything that will reflect in their product which people will always appreciate and will happily pay for. 
“In a perfect world chefs can add value to their menu by making stocks and sauces from scratch but many caterers do not have the endless hours or skill necessary to create it. There are also many nutritional benefits of a homemade stock but health and safety may have something to say about it as it is often seen as a grey area.”  

As businesses expand so does their menu and John Glover argued that featured dishes and specials are the way to add value. For most food to go operators your menu works, but the old favourites will always be there so offering daily specials be it soy & mirin beef brisket will potentially entice new customers and even if they don’t buy it your customers can see you are being innovative.   
Discussing using sauces as a great way to add value, Emma McDonald from the Bay Tree said: “With the addition of a sauce or seasoning, caterers can easily incorporate new flavours and add a point of difference to their menus, helping them to keep on top of the latest food trends. This can provide that much-needed edge over competition.”  

This is something that Desiree Parker agreed with, adding: “An innovative array of accompaniments adds interest – customers love to be able to customise their order and try something new.
“Acknowledging and promoting foods that satisfy special dietary requirements is a great way to instil customer loyalty – it shows that real thought and care has gone into the complete offering – from the main event to the bit on the side!”
All of these items lead to the idea that it is not only the customisation of the food that is important but the feeling that the consumers are getting value for money. In today’s market people seem to be spending more and are happy to pay for extras, so making sure that you offer the right product is key. This isn’t to say that there is a move away from premium products, in fact it is the opposite.

John Glover said that his team have seen a significant increase in sales of their award winning sauces like our real mayonnaise, ketchup and sweet chilli sauce.  He said: “These sauces are offered by most food to go operators but they are choosing to increase the quality as a point of difference.

As an end user who is face to face with the customers every day Ruth thinks that people generally are better educated about the ethical, health and quality considerations surrounding food these days. She highlighted that this is a great step forward for the food industry and it’s encouraging that people want better quality products on the whole. Warren also championed the use of a more premium product suggesting that without a doubt food has grown so much in the last 10 years and with that so has expectations of the consumer.

“Not only that, but people are cooking more at home and with good quality sauces, marinades and seasonings, knowing that it can transform a simple dish into something amazing.” 
Brian Eastment thought that consumers are basically looking for more but for less, money. He said: “Margins are increasingly being cut back, for this reason and for the additional benefits it brings in taking the hassle and stress away, the majority of today’s busy kitchens do invest wisely in a good stock and seasoning.

“Consistency is king! It can literally be the difference between an average dish and one that will get diners.
Emma agreed that consistency was key and that there are some great sauces available for businesses to buy, saying: “A variety of great tasting and visually appealing condiments is key. The Bay Tree offer branded bottles and jars as well as catering tubs to the trade in our best-selling flavours. These are reliable flavours which can be presented however you wish.” Whilst Desiree added: “Consumers seek products they can trust. Bombarded with frequent stories about sugar, fat, salt, additives, GMO etc., consumers increasingly favour high quality sauces created using natural ingredients.”

Overall it is clear that aside from the consumer benefits of having a variety of flavours and products to choose from there are many benefits form the businesses that sell food in the market place. Aside from adding value and offering a good chance for you to upsell, there is also an opportunity to expand your selection and your product range very easily. Many sauces are multi-purpose and can give you options. The choice that the consumer has and the ease at which they can customise a product is a big pulling factor and can lead to more sales and returning visits.

The influences seem to start at a small level from people bringing back new concepts and items to taste from other countries. This often happens at a street food level, which is an easy entry point for people to try new dishes in an affordable manor. There are also arguments for making your own items and buying them in. It seems that in the current market smaller businesses are far more experimental and are willing to try out flavour combinations. If these flavours take off then the larger businesses put them into production and make them available on a large scale.

Sauces and seasonings are a vital part of the market and offer something extra to the food trade. They offer quality, value and flavour for all and it is an exciting time to see so many influences in the industry. 2016 could be the year the food-to-go market in the UK goes truly global.

Monday, 29th February, 2016

Business Profile

Businesses in the food and drink industry are constantly looking for the latest products and trends as well as a gap in the market for new concepts. If you can bring a business or a product to market that is new and exciting then you have a fighting chance in what is often a crowded landscape.

In terms of tea, the high streets of the UK are filled with cafes and consumer demand is high. All of this means that business owners and investors who operate in this sector have to stand out.

In this industry, one of the latest trends to take off has been Bubble Tea and when Eric Khaw founded Mooboo Bubble Tea he set out principles for growing a brand and bringing delicious drinks and desserts to the nation.

His aim was to create the finest quality products, a vision which continues as his business, goes from strength to strength. By working closely with customers and staff, Mooboo stands out from the competition as a market leader and it is fair to say that they one-step ahead.

We caught up with Eric to find out more about the products, the demand and how he has grown the business from a single unit operation into a multi-site, franchise opportunity.

Let u