Trends in the foodservice industry are worth watching, both in terms of food and beverage trends and equipment trends. For 2018, Foodservice Equipment & Supplies highlights five food and beverage trends and the impact they will have on equipment and design: food waste reduction, natural ingredients and clean menus, chicken, house-brewed beer and barrel cocktails, and house-made non-alcoholic beverages. Many of these trends will require improved signage, more prep space, rotisserie ovens and grills and wood-fired equipment, more space to display taps, and enhanced water filtration.
More smart technology also will impact the equipment trends in the foodservice industry. Product innovation continues to occur and evolve, and the industry will take notice to keep pace with the food and beverage trends. To help you stay on-trend, we take a look at five of the most significant equipment trends to watch for this year:
According to Food Service Director, multitap water dispensers will be all the rage. Not only will it help restaurants make water profitable, but it will help them conveniently offer still and sparkling water at various temperatures. Some dispensers may have flavor shots or syrups built in, but most do not yet have that capability. For now, restaurants and operators and add syrup or fruits for infusions to the water that is delivered via the multitap dispensers.
Kitchens are adopting open concepts and front-of-house prep, especially as the trend toward natural ingredients and clean menus continue. Customers want to see where their food comes from, and they want to feel like they are part of the experience, and restaurants need to keep up by implementing new cooking equipment.
Visually appealing cooking equipment is one trend that we can expect to see this year. Such new designs include ovens and fryers in bright colors. The new equipment also features sleek touchscreens instead of bulky buttons and knobs.
Another trend to look for in cooking equipment for 2018 is multi-functional equipment. Restauranteurs try to make the most of their kitchen space, and they can do so by utilizing equipment that handles multiple functions. Some of the hottest kitchen equipment includes combination and rapid cook ovens that feature several cooking methods for preparing a variety of foods.
For example, the Double Batch from TurboChef is a ventless impingement oven comprised of two independently controlled high-speed ovens that produce more food, faster, especially with the oscillating rack. The oven is a mere 27 inches wide and reduces energy consumption. Most impressively, chefs control each oven with a split-screen, Wi-Fi connected touch controller.
Any foodservice equipment that reduces labor and improves efficiency is a must-have because today’s restaurant kitchens are getting smaller, according to North American Association of Food Equipment Manufacturers director of member services Charlie Souhrada. That’s why the trend is for “equipment that’s running smarter, smaller and easier to operate.” Equipment that saves on labor and makes trainer easier, along with technology that is simple, is the trend.
Enter the QuiQsilver Roll-O-Matic silverware rolling machine. The machine wraps all kinds of flatware in napkins at a rate of 500 sets per hour. The Roll-O-Matic also rolls and bands chopsticks. Not only does this piece of equipment reduce labor, but it sanitizes each set with a built-in ultraviolet light as it rolls. It’s worth noting that the QuiQsilver Roll-O-Matic was a 2017 Kitchen Innovations Award recipient.
Food waste reduction is a hot trend in food service now: the issue came in at number seven on the National Restaurant Association’s What’s Hot list of 2017 trends. It’s obviously something the food industry needs to address because 4%-10% of food purchased by foodservice operations is discarded before it reaches guests.
As a result, operators are pushing for food waste reduction to become standard operating procedure. The equipment that is required to reduce food waste includes on-site composting and recycling bins. One of the more popular pieces of on-site composting equipment for the restaurant industry is the FoodCycler.
People expect fast service, personalization, and convenience in all aspects of their lives, and that includes a more convenient and customized dining experience. As such, the foodservice industry is trending toward more automated technology. Chains are implementing kiosks and touchscreens, and chatbots and artificial intelligence (AI) are breaking into the industry for taking orders via from various platforms including social media and smart TVs. Some brands have tested drone delivery, too.
The next trend to look for in automated technology is online reservation systems and technology in full-service restaurants. Guests want to order and pay without waiting for servers. Restaurants stand to benefit by learning more about guests through technology and the data it collects on them.
Overall, the equipment trends to watch for in the foodservice industry aim to reduce labor, food waste, and the amount of space required in the kitchen. Many of the equipment trends also follow food and beverage trends and evolving guest expectations and demands. One thing is certain: smarter technology continues to impact the foodservice industry and its equipment.