The healthy juice and smoothie trend is continuing to have an impact on the type of catering equipment operators are requiring both front and back of house. But are they asking distributors and suppliers to provide these beverage-making mixers and blenders at the most suitable stage of a kitchen project?
For Richard Norman, national sales manager at Jestic Foodservice Equipment: “Beverage machines, such at the Vitamix blenders that we distribute exclusively in the UK to foodservice businesses, are specified at different stages of a kitchen outfit, depending how they are viewed by the dealer, distributor or specifier.
“Where the machines are viewed as part of the ‘heavy equipment’ they tend to be specified quite early on, whereas those who specify blenders as part of the ‘light equipment’ required by a kitchen, will specify the units much later on
in a project.”
He underlined: “Blenders are such a key appliance for any business looking to produce a fresh, seasonal beverage menu. As such, we believe that they should be specified earlier in a project, with much of the subsequent menu and beverage offering being based around the capabilities of the machine.”
Virtually all of the Vitamix brand’s specification comes through Jestic’s dealer and distributor partners, and with front of house siting becoming ever more popular, Norman feels that The Quiet One model is suitable for these requirements. “Featuring a magnetically secured sound cover and advanced vibration-dampening technology, the blender is up to four times quieter than the competition,” he said.
“Each Vitamix blender features a quality design and manufactured from superior engineered materials to deliver consistent results. The standout design makes the Vitamix range suitable for front of house positioning, while the quality and consistency of the final beverage will exceed customers’ expectations and help to generate the much needed repeat business.”
Over at Robot Coupe, UK MD Ed Cotterell reported that these types of appliances are usually not included at the design stage of a kitchen. He cautioned: “For juicers this can be problematic because countertops then need to be cut to allow for continuous waste ejection through into the waste bin below.
“Some juicers require different height work benches to be specified and if this is not planned for in the design stage then it can be a costly additional post-fit alteration.”
He advised distributors: “The earlier in the design process that the products are correctly specified, the less additional cost is added to the project. Many design house overlook blenders and juicers and term them ‘table top’ items that the chefs will buy as and when they need them. Often very little thought is given to the design of the prep area around the machines for the storage of cups, jugs and waste storage and removal.”
All Robot Coupe’s machines are designed to minimise their footprint and contain their own waste collectors to help in this regard, which can also be useful when the units are specified for front of house. Quiet operation is also strongly considered for the latter during the product development process.
Cotterell detailed that an increasing percentage of consultants and kitchen planners are designing Robot Coupe’s mixers and blenders into their schemes, with the brand’s key accounts team also working closely with end users prior to the sale going back through the distribution channel.
With all of Foodservice Equipment Marketing (FEM)’s cold beverage machines sold through dealers, commercial director Mark Hogan revealed: “Historically, blenders and beverage machines weren’t seen as part of the heavy equipment spec. However, they are now recognised as an integral part of foodservice equipment within a commercial kitchen.”
He advised: “It is always beneficial to specifying drinks blenders and beverage machines as earlier as possible as budgets might be squeezed later, resulting in lower spec models which are often not suitable for the operation.”
For front of house operations FEM offers Hamilton Beach Commercial’s Eclipse blender, which is said to operate effectively but with minimal noise. Hogan said: “Hamilton Beach Commercial has developed its own QuietBlend technology. This reduces its noise level to 60-70dB, the same as normal conversation.
“The blender sits within a QuietShield, which seals it tightly and significantly blocks the sound of its operation cycle. Air is taken in from the bottom of the machine and then emitted through a small exhaust at
the rear base of the unit, further reducing noise.”
At Metcalfe Catering Equipment, MD Neil Richards has found that the stage in a project when these products are specified depends on the type of outlet in which they are going to be used. “For example, in a juice bar where the juicer is likely to be one of the mainstays of the operation, the attention paid to its specification and performance is obviously going to be very high on the agenda because the impact of a machine failure on the business is likely to be significant.”
He explained: “The growing importance of food preparation equipment also explains why Metcalfe has recently entered into an agreement to distribute the Hallde range in the UK as it sits very nicely alongside our own range as well as our Ceado blenders and Roband milkshake mixers.”
While Metcalfe only sells to dealers, it is also aiming to make end users more aware of its products through its website and social media activity. According to Richards: “One of the key messages we are trying to get across is the whole life cost of a piece of backbar equipment.
“If an end user buys a quality product in the first place it will outlast a cheaper alternative many times over; so although initially more expensive, the whole life cost will be much less. At present the market, although healthy, is still being undermined by cheap, inferior products playing simply to those who buy on price.”
Elsewhere, Uropa Distribution garners its sales through a mix of distributors, consultants and specifiers. But the project stage at which the Santos juicers and blenders it supplies are specified depends on both the site and the type of appliance, according to head of brands, Richard Ebbs.
“Outlets which want to have a juice or beverage focus will certainly know the type of machine or capabilities of machine they want, if not the exact model or brand. For venues where the juice offering is part of a more varied operation, the decision on the model to be specified does tend to be made later in the project.”
He continued: “In reality the earlier the better is the general rule. This is especially the case with equipment such as our Santos blender (DN638) which can be specified to be dropped into the actual counter.”
Uropa aims to ensure its models are incorporated into the overall design of a site by having a range of products to suit the needs of the venue. “For example, opting for a silent blender will not only help to reduce the overall operational noise, but will also improve the overall ambience and atmosphere for customers,” he said.
“Likewise, the new colour coded jugs (blue, green, yellow, orange and purple) for the Waring Extreme Blenders enable operators to manage a beverage system where certain jugs can be operated as dairy, gluten and nut free to provide an option for a variety of customers.”