This week saw the return of Host, Europe’s largest international exhibition dedicated to the world of food service and hospitality. Taking place over five days and ‘in person’ (after an uncertain couple of years for trade fairs), it was great to see our clients face to face and welcome them back to the World of True Refrigeration.
While some brands opted not to exhibit at the show this year, or to do so in a reduced capacity, True was out in full force. We had a lot to show and talk about, with new products, concepts, legislation, and insight into the industry, coming out of this unprecedented period.
Our 250 meter booth was divided into different areas representing sectors of the industry which are undergoing an evolution right now, adapting to meet the new demands of customers in our new world.
The first area of the booth tour was “At Work”, modelled after a modern office setting. A lot of us have spent less time at the office over the last couple of years, and some employers are now finding that they need to incentivise their staff to return.
Food is one of the top incentives which companies are using to encourage people to come back, ranging from free meals and snacks, to new, fresh and trendy dishes they might not have tried before (that are more exciting than the basic sandwich they’ve been eating at home every day).
Offering a meal service in the workplace today is much more straightforward than many employers realise. Unless you have a sizeable workforce, you no longer need a fully staffed kitchen and canteen serving people. Many smaller modern offices are turning to solutions like MicroMarkets to provide this service.
These unattended retail solutions are completely scalable, able to be setup in any space and offer a 24/7 meal and refreshment service. The model is like an evolution of traditional vending machine services, but more focussed on fresh/healthy full meals than snacking items, providing employees with flexible and nutritious dining options, without having to leave the office.
The MicroMarket installation on the True booth at Host showcased our Glass Door Merchandiser products, the cooler of choice to many of today’s leading enterprise catering solution providers due to their superior temperature holding and full accreditation with current regulatory standards.
We also debuted a brand new standalone unattended retail solution called TrueGo at the show, in partnership with 365 Retail Markets. This product features a door-mounted product scanning and payment tablet, replacing the need for a ‘kiosk’ terminal found in many MicroMarkets. As a result, it is completely self-contained (for placement closer to staff working areas, or distributed across different floors of an office or hotel) but also scalable (multiple machines placed side-by-side to cater to larger numbers).
At Host 2019, we featured a Micro Kitchen area of the booth containing examples of fully commercial “forced air” refrigeration system equipment, but with a small footprint. For many years, back of house kitchen space has been shrinking as restaurateurs prioritise front of house, often out of necessity, as more covers are needed to offset higher and higher operating costs. As a result, operators continue to search for smaller cooling solutions.
At Host 2021, we evolved the Micro Kitchen concept further into the True Food Truck, a small space proving that these constraints shouldn’t mean you have to restrict your menu or standards. Small footprint equipment can still offer full operational efficiency.
Visitors who ventured inside the truck discovered our smallest prep table, the TSSU-27-08-HC (W 702 x H 1093 x D 766 mm), ideal for smaller scale sandwich prep, along with our “super slimline” T-11-HC (W 487 x H 1855 x D 539 mm) upright and leading small footprint undercounter solution, the TUC-24-HC (W 610 x H 802 x D 629 mm).
When in need of refrigerated storage but frustratingly restricted on space, you may be tempted to consider domestic cooling as an option for a commercial operation. You may then find that such equipment simply isn’t fit for purpose, unable to maintain required food-safe temperatures under the strain of frequent access and high ambient conditions.
Like all True products, the small footprint solutions showcased in the Host booth food truck feature “forced air” refrigeration systems intended for the demands of commercial operations. The two products applicable under current energy labelling regulations are also certified Climate Class 5, proof that despite their diminutive size, they are able to operate efficiently under strain in ambient temperatures of up to 40°C.
Traditional food retail is in the midst of a major evolution right now, again spurred on by the adaptations needed while restrictions were in place, such as an upsurge in demand for home delivery and Click & Collect services.
The established operators are also facing stronger competition from smaller Convenience store formats and a new wave of “quick delivery” start-ups, promising to be at your door within 15 minutes of ordering from a phone app.
Customers are no longer prepared to take hours out of their week doing the traditional “big shop”, nor are they satisfied any longer with a delivery slot two days from now (which until recently, was the epitome of “convenience”). Demands shift quickly, and retailers need to keep up.
Fortunately, True’s range of commercial retail refrigeration is suitable for all forms of operator. At the Host booth, we showcased a traditional upright line-up of T-Series refrigerators and freezers, the types of cabinet many retail operators are now using for Click & Collect or grocery pickup services. Here, you place your order ahead of time, typically through a phone app, choosing a time convenient for you to collect. In the meantime, pickers in-store are gathering your items together, either placing them in cabinets located near the store entrance for you to quickly and easily collect, or in cabinets located in a back room consolidation area where staff members bring the goods out to your car.
Food ‘on the go’ operators were hit badly during the pandemic, with fewer people commuting and travelling. Now that we are starting to return to normal routines, the crowds are coming back for their morning coffees and working lunches, eager to try something new after being cooped up for so long.
Operators have an opportunity to capitalise on this return by offering something fresh and interesting. The ‘on the go’ section of True’s Host booth showcased the latest in HC prep table technology and display solution options to merchandise the finished product on sale.
Options from True’s TSSU and TFP ranges highlighted the operational efficiencies created by these ‘all in one’ prep counters, which combine easily accessible chilled food pans in the top along with a cutting board surface, supported by drawers containing more chilled pans to facilitate easy changeover and keep up with demand.
Multideck options from our TOAM and TAC ranges provide the perfect merchandising solution for ‘on the go’ operators, with ideal temperatures for the preservation of fresh packaged goods, again fully conforming with energy labelling regulations which were recently introduced for this type of cabinet.
Visitor to the booth were briefed on these new laws which all commercial operators using refrigeration need to be aware of. If you couldn’t make the show but are curious about how these changes might affect you, be sure to check out our updated advice here, or get in touch.
Take out and Delivery have been huge disruptors to the restaurant industry during the pandemic. With many eateries forced to close their doors or run a reduced service due to social distancing requirements, those that weren’t setup to offer these services had to quickly get onboard if they wanted to continue operating.
For others that already had a strong delivery platform, they found demand going crazy as consumers scrambled to get their prepared food fix.
Already a thing pre-pandemic, the rise of the dark kitchen (also known as virtual kitchens, cloud kitchens, production kitchens, or delivery-only restaurants) has gone from strength to strength recently, as established operators and start-ups alike see the benefit of having kitchens which cook purely for delivery.
We are creatures of habit, and so even though restrictions on eating out have now largely been lifted, we’ve got used to the convenience of having our favourite prepared food brought to us rather than us having to go to it.
That being said, while the convenience of home delivery has been a boon to many, for others, nothing compares with the experience of dining out in a proper sit down restaurant.
Eating out in a nice restaurant has the opportunity to ignite all of the senses in a way which delivery cannot. Eating prepared food has almost become a daily occurrence for many but dining out at a restaurant still feels like a special occasion. Experiencing the sights, smells, great staff service and fantastic cooked-to-order food creates an atmosphere most diners just can’t get at home, and are willing to pay a premium for.
The “Dine In” sector of True’s Host booth combined a front of house hospitality experience with an open kitchen vignette featuring our energy leading TCR counters and soon the launched 2-section TGN-2 upright cabinet.
The final section of the tour highlighted True’s Powder Coat colour customisation service.
Here and throughout the booth, visitors were able to see examples of cabinets built in specific custom finishes and get inspired about adding a splash of colour to their kitchens, bars, shops and offices.
The Custom Design area doubled as our bar equipment showcase, featuring glass door display units from across the full True range with a focus on premium chilled product display.
Operators interested in creating their own colour personalised refrigeration cabinets should check out our Custom Design page.
We had a blast at Host 2021!
It was great to get back out and see our partners again, and share with them everything we’ve been up to since last meeting.
If you couldn’t make it, don’t worry. We’re available any time to discuss any refrigeration requirement you might have. Just get in touch and we will share our passion for cold.