Catering Insight asked dealers which products have been flying off the shelves during lockdown and especially in the run-up to the big reopening.
At Stockport-based Stephensons, MD Henry Stephenson reported: “We saw some massive spikes last year when the government announced table service, for example, suddenly we sold a year’s worth of bar trays in a week.
“There’s a lot of unbreakable polycarbonate drinkware going out for outdoor use, which could also be due to licensing requirements for outside, as operators will legally have to put something that isn’t glass out there.”
He noted: “Outdoor furniture has proved very popular – aluminium furniture has run out in the UK and it will probably be May or June before that is replenished. So we’re selling a lot of wooden furniture because we can obtain that – people are having to take what they can get in order to trade.”
For heavy equipment, Fulcrum Commercial Kitchens’ director, David Burnett, detailed: “The usual (seasonal) suspects such as ice cream machines have been very evident but also a good number of enquiries for hi-speed ovens such as the ‘Rapidchef’ or ‘Merrychef’ have been noticeable. This is most likely to serve an increase in fast-turnaround takeaway foodservice.
“But, for us, the uptake for any Covid-related hygiene equipment has been surprisingly sporadic. I suppose there are so many outlets providing a direct procurement source for this kind of product that distributors are just being bypassed.”
However, at Sylvester Keal, marketing director Irene Keal revealed: “SK is continuing to see an increase in sales of our own-branded hand sanitiser and other sanitisers in our range as well as mops, buckets and cleaning cloths since we launched our new online shop last August. Catering equipment sales are on the increase as businesses look to re-open and some are opting to continue offering a takeaway service.”
While Simon Tavender, MD at Eastleigh-based Catering Equipment Support, detailed: “Equipment sales able to give a fast serve capability such as fryers and impingement ovens has increased with our traditionally-based kitchen clients. Combination oven sales have been the highest in 5 years.”
Similarly, Total QSR’s marketing manager Joanne Herridge reported: “We have noticed a higher demand for high-speed ovens, with lots of operators looking for an easy way to expand their menu.”
At Buckinghamshire-headquartered Eco Catering Equipment, MD Tim Taylor said demand has been steady throughout with certain product types. “Refrigeration, for example, has remained very strong for us. We supply a varied customer base so we’ve been fortunate throughout the shutdowns to have a steady order rate.
“However, we saw a definite drop in other ranges. Warewashers, for example, dropped significantly which you’d expect, but we are happy to see the enquiry and order rate has been steadily increasing and is really heading in the right direction – a trend that we’re starting to see across all product types.”