Today’s quick cooking appliance marketplace is very crowded, with microwaves jostling for space alongside convection ovens, combi steamers and air impingement technology, to name just a few options. So have microwaves lost their unique selling point in amongst the throng?
Not according to Ray Hall, MD of supplier, RH Hall. “Microwaves compete very favourably indeed. They are versatile, space saving (units can easily be stacked), have low running costs and are also extremely affordable. In comparison to the tasks they undertake, they provide great value for money and because of this we predict that they will continue to innovate and lead the accelerated cooking market.”
He added: “The place of microwaves in the commercial kitchen is showing no signs of changing and has a very bright future ahead. Budding chefs have been brought up on the ease of microwave cooking and have become reliant on their versatility in today’s fast paced market, ensuring continued demand.”
Citing RF solid state cooking, which could provide better and more consistent power control, as a coming technology, he further detailed: “The combination microwave market is continuing to grow – with these clever machines offering the speed of microwave cooking, combined with the versatility of more conventional methods. Many also include pre-programmable menu facilities, such as the Maestrowave Combi Chef 7 which includes Menu Creator 2.0, allowing users to set up to 99 different menu settings and deploy these to as many machines as required via SD card – ensuring total consistency.”
Hall advised dealers to understand the needs of the customer and the microwaves’ intended usage. “Deal with a commercial microwave oven specialist distributor/importer and stick with established and proven brands. Avoid low cost cheap imports, as many are domestic quality and will not withstand commercial use. Importantly they will falter in performance, leading to core temperature of food issues.”
Another big name in microwave supply is Regale Microwave Ovens. MD Patrick Bray also feels the future is bright for the compact appliance. “As one of the most essential items in a ‘fast food’ commercial kitchen, unless someone comes up with a quicker method of turning out hot food in seconds, then the commercial microwave oven will be around for many years to come. To show this is the case you only have to see the vast quantity of replacements that are being sold every year which is thousands upon thousands on top of the new sites being built which are automatically being fitted with them, sometimes in the region of six units!”
While he hasn’t seen any major technological changes recently, he did praise a recent swap by Panasonic. “They stopped using incandescent lamps (which are never covered by the manufacturer’s warranty) and fit an LED electronic circuit which can be programmed to flash when the cooking has finished instead of (or with) the bleep, so with a bank of microwaves it is easy to see which oven has completed the cooking cycle.
“The other good reason for this is the saving made, as the new LED has a 3 year warranty – so no more expense for lamps. Regale Microwave Ovens also followed suit with the LED idea and when we supply a new microwave oven complete with our Microsave Cavity Liner we change the incandescent lamp(s) to LED, free of charge, in Daewoo and Sharp’s heavy duty compact range, and provide a free 3 year warranty.”
Bray believes dealers should: “Consider what power is needed to do what is required and how heavy the usage is. It is pointless to buy on price as you can end up with a low powered ‘back bar’ or ‘sweet’ type microwave which would be useless in a fast food environment situation. Bear in mind that a microwave with only 1,000-1,200W is a low powered unit and should not be expected to be used continually during the day.”