Caterers warned of summer equipment drought

The catering market faces the prospect of a shortage in kitchen equipment for hire this summer due to the strain that the Olympics will put on the sector, industry experts are warning.

A third of event operators are expected to have some involvement in or around the Olympics, prompting fears that those who don’t get their orders in early enough will be unable to source the equipment they need unless they make a capital purchase.

66% of event caterers contacted by food service research house Caterlyst said they had not even considered there might be a scarcity of equipment even though there are a limited number of hire specialists which draw on a finite pool of stock.

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Chris Irving, managing director of Cheltenham-based temporary kitchen specialist PKL Group, said that in any other year it would not matter if caterers failed to place orders early, but agreed the magnitude of the Olympics threatened to place considerable strain on the market this time around.

He warned: “2012 will see exceptional demand for certain hire items. While PKL has made capital investment to anticipate high demand, it is likely that those who do not book early may not be able to get their first choice of hire items.”

Irving said PKL already has 4,000 pieces of kit booked and set aside for the summer months and 100 extra kitchens to deliver.

He predicts that supplies of prime cooking appliances and servery equipment are at most risk of drying up.

“With only four or five major catering equipment hire companies in the UK, it is likely that all of us will see shortages on some lines, including combination ovens, six burner oven ranges and servery equipment,” he said.

The research from Caterlyst indicates that 80% of operators involved in Olympics-led events will be catering for more than 50 people each time.

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