CHICAGO -- Ah, springtime. Birds are chirping, flowers are blooming and new convenience-store foodservice products are launching. Purveyors of foodservice equipment and products have been busy developing new items to woo the hungry, time-crunched masses and accommodate c-stores' snug footprints.
Here are some key foodservice innovations hitting the market this season ...
Photo courtesy of InCommunicado.
1. Space-saving foodservice kiosks
In some markets, labor and real-estate costs are eating at c-stores’ bottom lines. When space and hands are limited, operators often put a premium on versatility and space efficiency. One of The Vollrath Co.’s newest products fits two foodservice concepts in the space of one kiosk.
Rotating on a central turntable, the Pivot Point allows retailers to offer two distinct foodservice programs in one 900-square-foot space. The kiosk can serve 200 customers in about four hours and rotate manually in less than a minute.
“We were honored to partner with Christensen Consultants to bring the Pivot Point concept to life,” said Katharine Mizla, design solutions manager for Sheboygan, Wis.-based Vollrath, in a news release. “Vollrath has a lot of capabilities that people may not be aware of, from our own in-house design and engineering teams, to construction and materials, to graphics, signage and lighting, along with Vollrath’s wide-ranging equipment selection. We’re really a destination for innovative serving solutions.”
2. A smart kitchen
Leveraging data is how many foodservice operators are getting ahead in this crowded market. Foodservice equipment manufacturer Welbilt Inc. has launched KitchenConnect to help c-stores gather insights on report, asset menu and quality management from their equipment. The digital service presents metrics that can help c-stores limit food waste and costs, improve work flow and limit downtime.
“Our customers are investing in their digital infrastructures and so are we,” said Hubertus Muehlhaeuser, president and CEO of New Port Richey, Fla.-based Welbilt, in a news release. “Welbilt’s digital transformation is driven by the fact that equipment connectivity adds economic value to a kitchen operation, and that it is the basis for increased kitchen automation. KitchenConnect will help our customers to take their entire kitchen operation to a new level and increase the profitability of their business.”
KitchenConnect is compatible with smart equipment from other manufacturers as well.
3. Gluten-free protein
Gluten-free is one of the fastest growing health claims, according to Technomic’s most recent Healthy Eating Consumer Trend Report. Butterball Foodservice is capitalizing on that momentum with its gluten-free turkey meatballs.
Seasoned with Italian spices, the fully cooked meatballs offer c-stores a nonbeef alternative. “Turkey is naturally gluten free, and our entire product line has followed that standard with the exception of turkey meatballs,” said Richie Jenkins, Butterball Foodservice senior director of national accounts/marketing. “Now, with this new product, we’re offering a solution for our customers and allowing them to give gluten-sensitive diners the better-for-you protein options they’re clearly craving.”
4. Germ-fighting gloves
At CSP’s C-Store Foodservice Forum in Chicago, operators sounded off on their handwringing about staff handwashing. However, products such as GloDea’s antimicrobial AM Gloves might help provide a little more peace of mind for foodservice category managers. An active antimicrobial ingredient inside and outside the gloves protects from contaminations caused by bacteria and fungi.
The Jacksonville, Fla.-based company offers preorders with delivery within 60 days.
5. Small-batch warmer
Craft, small-batch, handmade: All these buzzwords help signify fresh, quality products to consumers. The Glenray Mini Warmer from Cleveland-based Tomlinson Industries gives c-stores the opportunity to upgrade their condiment bar with small-batch soups, stews, sauces, gravies and dips. The device has adjustable temperature control and a one-year warranty.