Over 80 distributor representatives amassed at this year’s CESA Light Equipment and Tableware Forum for focused round robin meetings with 19 sector suppliers. The 2019 edition was held on 19-20 March at Whittlebury Hall, Northamptonshire, and both exhibitors and attendees had nothing but universal praise for what they described as the “best event yet”.
Catering Insight was fortunate enough to be included in one of the 19 rotating groups, and so started the first day of the forum at Denby’s table. The English tableware manufacturer was highlighting its new Studio Grey range, which can be mixed and matched with sister collection, Studio Blue, launched last year.
Continuing to push into the foodservice market, Denby now delivers its ware in boxes of six, for distributor and end user convenience. Sean Flint, Denby’s master potter, was on hand at the event to directly demonstrate the artisanal pottery skills of the manufacturer’s team too.
Signature FSE then showcased new products including Pinti Inox’s cutlery ranges: narrow profiled Audrey (designed by renowned architect Marcello Ziliani) and wooden effect Sushi Pro, which actually features handles made from ABS plastic. The supplier also imports Chasseur cast iron pots, which can now feature a bespoke transfer on the side for end user branding. The pots are available in six primary colours and are oven- and dishwasher-safe.
Next up, Row & Sons emphasised how it can turn around bespoke product orders in 5-10 days with no minimum quantities. New products included Longhorn steak knives, which incredibly feature handles constructed from recycled paper (a material called Roweca). The Essex-based manufacturer reported increasing enquiries for its Roweca chopping boards, and Apex ultra-hygienic, self-healing boards made from a non-cellular anti-microbial rubber compound.
Furthermore, the boutique firm is looking at supply partnerships with other British manufacturers who have complementary skillsets.
New to the Forum and to CESA itself, TableCraft demonstrated products including allergen-aware chopping boards with integrated clips for a non-stick function. Plus its latest two-tiered frame riser is suited to the front of house hotel market and has already been installed at The Belfry. The frame works with all GN sizes and can accommodate crates which feature black or acacia wood finishes. Attendees also caught a first glimpse of the new Barnwood collection of melamine presentation-ware, suited to pan-Asian and outdoor dining.
Hendi’s latest products included a dehydrator with updated stainless steel grading. The firm’s new sales director Phil Matthews was introduced to delegates for the first time, and coming from the dealer side of the market, he was very keen to emphasise how the Dutch-headquartered supplier wants to develop its UK distributor network. Hendi UK feels dealers can take the opportunity to partner with a manufacturer which offers quality products at an attractive price point.
Elsewhere, Mitchell & Cooper reported good sales figures for its Crustastun humane electric crustacean stunner, so much so, it is working on upping the capacity of crustaceans the unit can stun simultaneously, from two to four. Also proving popular for the firm is its coloured handle portioners, which are riding on the wave of the swing towards portion control in restaurants, and its Excalibur hydrators are benefitting from bars wanting dried fruit in cocktails.
The next table was Contacto, where the manufacturer detailed its three tier stand is flying off the shelves thanks to the continuing popularity of afternoon tea. New innovations have tapped into the ‘mini’ trend, with a small milk churn-shaped jug with a connected lid, and mini wire presentation baskets which ape supermarket shopping baskets. The firm’s latest coloured handle tongs are suited to separate usage and allergen awareness.
Nevilles had many new buffet products to display, including office drawer-look trays. The firm showed Forum visitors the virtual walk-through of its new London showroom, available through its website. This features interactive ‘touch-points’ which take users straight to the relevant product pages online. The new site has dealer account logins where they can view pricing and track orders. Plus Nevilles’ new mobile device app depicts much of the same information and delivers push notifications when a new catalogue or documentation is available.
Creative Retail Display emphasised the durability and cost benefits of its melamine tableware, which it feels there is increasing demand for. It has recently added large Marrakesh melamine serving bowls to its collection. However, its silicone utensils such as tongs and slotted spoons, are its best-sellers. Future products in development include risers to add height to food presentation-ware, due to be launched in the next couple of months.
At Eddingtons’ table, it had plenty of new products to show including Pokito pop-up cups, while the firm has taken on three brands as a result of ICTC’s recent closure: San Miguel glassware, CDN thermometers and Olivewood woodware. Last year the company took over the Stow Green gift company too, which could filter through into the foodservice market. Plus, one of its existing brands, Lodge, has launched mini triangular cast iron servers, which are dishwasher safe.
Dometic’s attendance at the event represented a push into the foodservice market for its portable refrigerators. It can offer three technologies: a passive coolbox which can be loaded with ice to cool produce; electric coolboxes including the CFX, which can maintain temperatures down to -22°C running off a 12V socket or battery pack; or the Combicool ACX range which can even operate off gas cartridges.
Moving on, Dualit brought its prototype DCT2I conveyor toaster, which has an output of 560 rounds of toast per hour, to the forum. This features a standby mode, estimated to save up to 70% of energy, but the toaster can get back up to temperature within a couple of minutes. Additionally, the CafePro coffee capsule machine it first demonstrated at last year’s Forum is now available for light commercial usage of up to 50 drinks from each of its two brewheads per day.
Finishing off the first day for Catering Insight’s Forum group was I Grunwerg. New products included Equilibrium knives, which use ice-hardened blades made from German steel, and Cafe Ole stainless steel teapots which feature hollow handles to stay cool. The manufacturer’s Infuser Jugs that can accommodate fruit infusions and filters are proving popular, as they utilise BPA-free plastic. Additionally the firm’s vacuum serving jugs are now available with a brushed metal finish.
Day two began with a stop at pest control specialist STV International’s table. Having just joined CESA, the Thetford-based supplier was making delegates aware of its full line portfolio. For example, its Ultimate Outdoor Fly Trap can be hung up near foodservice outlet bins areas and can catch up to 60,000 flies. The company has revamped this Ultra-Power brand for the commercial market, having garnered experience in the retail sector.
Sustainability was T&G Woodware’s top focus at the event, as it detailed that 5% of sales from its new fish-shaped Ocean presentation board range is going to the Plastic Oceans UK campaign. Furthermore, it ensures that all the wood it uses for its buffet and counter display products is from sustainable sources. Other new products included salt and pepper mills such as the Halo and Sphere ranges available in on-trend matt, muted colours.
Metcalfe highlighted the ergonomically-designed Hallde range of food preparation equipment with features such as a 45 degree operational incline for its vegetable preparation units, which should be more comfortable for users. The Swedish brand actually produces units up to an industrial size of 2.4tonnes. Another brand that Metcalfe supplies is Ceado, and the firm previewed an advance to the Ceado B285 blender, as it will soon be equipped with Bluetooth control.
While PFR reported that Revol Porcelaine is the most popular brand it supplies, the firm has now taken on US-based brand Front of the House (which produces items including Metroweave tablemats, baskets and coasters) and its sister brand, Room360, which produces hotel, bathroom and guest room accessories. The manufacturer has just opened a European warehouse in Dusseldorf to prepare for the market push.
FEM underlined its full range of allergen cookware and utensils, as well as Cambro’s new Century Wood Grain-look polyester trays. It also brought Pujadas’ new bamboo presentation ware to the Forum as well as a limited range of melamineware from the brand, with FEM consulting dealers on which items would be the most useful to stock. Also on show were Serber’s new cereal dispensers, which can vary the sizes of portions they serve.
Lastly, Elia’s latest high end products included the 12-sided EPS cafetiere and the TRA range of infuser teapots. The cafetiere comes in three sizes, while the manufacturer can provide replacement filters for the teapot, which is constructed from 1810 stainless steel and further features a hollow handle that prevents much heat transfer. The manufacturer also emphasised its satin finish cutlery, which comes in 80 different patterns.
General trends reported by the assembled suppliers included equipment to enable vegan food preparation and display, an abundance of purple coloured allergen aware utensils, and coloured tableware. And judging by the attendees’ positive comments towards the Forum, they’ll be back next year to find out whether these trends continue.