Event report: The CESA Conference 2017

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The CESA Conference 2017 addressed a changing industry in a complex world, reports Michael Jones

It was no coincidence the primary theme music for this year’s conference for the Catering Equipment Suppliers Association (CESA), which represents over 190 companies supplying commercial catering equipment in the UK, was David Bowie’s Changes. Addressing change in a shifting landscape was very much on the agenda at a conference titled ‘Moving forward in a changing world’.

“We are living in interesting times – uncertain times,” said Glenn Roberts, chair of CESA, at the conference on Thursday 16 November. “Insight is vital,” he said. And the conference programme delivered exactly that.

Held at De Vere Wokefield Estate Hotel in Reading, UK, the conference was expertly moderated by BBC presenter Steph McGovern who opened the conference by comparing the respective fortunes of the global economy with those of the UK. “The global economy is growing well, but with 1.5% economic growth the UK is moving at a slower pace. The UK has taken its foot off the gas. We are back into real-term wage falls,” said McGovern, while noting that unemployment was at a 42-year low.

Dealing with uncertainty

“Monetary is policy is kicking back in again. The Bank of England still thinks inflation is the way to control the economy…but the variables are so global,” said McGovern, who indicated the “biggest issue” affecting UK growth is the “uncertainty” created by Brexit that has resulted in a political chaos where parties are still “arguing about the basics”.

In the meantime business has to just get on with it and “crack on”, said McGovern who believes the companies she has seen achieving success currently are those “not letting uncertainty paralyse them” but are “finding opportunity in disruption” as well as seeking new business outside the EU.

That set a suitably pragmatic and forward-looking tone for the conference. McGovern was followed on stage by Steve Gotham, director of Insight at MCA who presented on restaurant and dining trends in the public sector, based on his company’s interviews with 6,000 customers a month.

There is, said Gotham, a “long-term positive trend in out-of-home food and drink spend, but it’s on hold this year” as economic forecasters highlight slowing growth, with the eating out market set to grow moderately this year by 1.7%.

“The short to medium term outlook remains subdued,” said Gotham who also indicated the slowing pace of physical expansion for restaurants. “It’s a difficult market place out there. We’re in a rebalancing state at the moment. There is a greater emphasis on driving performance and sales based on stability.”

Following McGovern’s earlier reference to the importance of disruption in this market, Gotham recommended foodservice companies provide “something not easily recreated” in their operations. “Offer something different,” he said.

Andrew Archer, managing director of Dewberry Redpoint, presented on the future of the UK cost sector until 2020. The industry is worth 49.4% of public sector market value, said Archer, who warned of the impending “absolute car crash” on staffing levels “if Brexit happens”.

Other significant challenges according to Archer include food prices and inflation, labour cost inflation, the value of the UK Pound and unprecedented financial pressures.

Technology and the rate of change

An entertaining presentation from Jeremy White of Wired magazine followed. Highlighting a number of products and innovations that are genuinely changing the world, from augmented reality, autonomous delivery vehicles, artificial intelligence to nanotechnology and machine learning, White stressed the “rate of normalisation” for new technology was “staggering” and that companies will fail if they don’t take into account “the rate of change”.

This proved to be a neat segue way into advertising/marketing veteran Gary Meehan’s presentation on connected equipment in commercial kitchens. “Are manufacturers considering the end-user enough?” questioned Meehan, who believes manufacturers should listen to the late Steve Jobs’s advice of “starting with the customer experience first and working backwards.”

‘Smart kitchens’ are, said Meehan, “kitchens that think for themselves. It’s about software, not hardware. The more complex and proprietary we make a system, the harder it is to communicate it to people,” said Meehan.

“We need to use a much more simple technology. We don’t need the internet of things (IoT) in connected kitchens. If technology does anything for us, it has to bring convenience to bear. Convenience is a big driver. There has to be applications and big benefits.”

Robin Clark, restaurant services director for online food order and delivery service Just Eat discussed how his firm are aiming to create “the world’s greatest food community”. The takeaway market is worth £6.6 billion in the UK, rising to £10 billion if the collection only market is included. £1.5 billion is currently being spent through the Just Eat platform alone.

Awards and accolades

Also at the conference, Simon Frost, CESA’s education advisory group chairman, presented Certified Food Service Professional (CFSP) certificates to 2017 recipients, highlighting there are currently 464 CFSP-qualified professionals in the UK and Ireland, with another 31 set to qualify via the 12-week remote learning course.

At CESA’s black-tie dinner later that evening, Lord Trefgarne won the CESA Outstanding Service to the Industry accolade. Lord Trefgarne has been CESA’s patron for 22 years. Roberts, described him “as a loyal and passionate supporter of the UK manufacturing and engineering sector”.

At the dinner Adande’s Aircell integrated grab and go foodservice cabinet was announced the winner of the FCSI Sustainable Catering Equipment Award.

Julian Edwards, FCSI UK and Ireland chairman, said: “Adande has brought a piece of equipment to the market which achieves, not only a significant reduction in energy consumption, but also gives the opportunity for reduction in food wastage through prolonging the life of food.”

The second place award went to the V-Tex drinks chiller from Enviro-Cool. “The use of this equipment can bring about very significant reduction in energy use whilst also bringing greater operational flexibility,” said Edwards.

Winterhalter’s Connected Wash system took the bronze award, with Edwards highlighting the machine’s ability to increase efficiency and reduce the usage of consumables, energy and water.

Michael Jones


Pictured: CESA’s chair Glenn Roberts with Steph McGovern

Bringing together a range of foodservice professionals, EP Magazine hosted it's London-based Hospitality Insights Conference with sights set on the future

Future: personalisation
Starting the conference was Professor David Russell FCSI, chairman of The Russell Partnership Collection. Diving straight to the heart of the conference’s theme, Russell confronted the oncoming themes and trends that the foodservice industry should be paying attention.

The future of foodservice, according to Russell, is personalisation. Even the most basic grab-and-go consumer items are now expected to suit individual needs. Russell’s answer to this is psychographics: the study of individual attitudes, interests and feeling, in an attempt to segment the market and thus more effectively engage with the customer.

Throughout the day, other guest speakers echoed Russell’s cry for unique dining experiences. Kate Taylor, nutrition expert and founder of the Food Boss, predicted that, in the next five years, personalised nutrition will be a main focus of the industry. This involves basing one’s diet and mealtimes on their individual productivity, with implications for .

Psychographics and personalisation are to take leading roles in The Russell Partnership’s involvement in the Dubai-based Expo 2020. Working alongside Tricon Foodservice Consultants, The Russell Partnership will use psychographic principles to engineer optimum dining experiences for all visitors.

Future: catering for the workplace
Another topic that received significant attention throughout EP Magazine’s event was the changing role of workplace dining.

As cities become increasingly congested, while worries simultaneously grow about pollution and overcrowding, caterers are having to adapt their methods of delivering good food, at good prices, to businesses.

Mike Coldicott FCSI, managing director of Tricon Foodservice Consultants, gave his perspective on how to tackle the problems caterers face in cities. He acknowledges that, as real estate prices escalate, there is a pressure on foodservice consultants to find solutions to spatial demands.

This leads to the debate over how to utilise space: should one invest in a central kitchen or a production location on city outskirts? Coldicott predicts that the future will involve minimal kitchen space onsite, with strategic off-site distribution plans leading the sector.

Future: communication and collaboration
Many in the auditorium agreed with these positive additions to the future of foodservice. However, the majority also hoped that the future would ideally involve the absence of something that is currently prevalent in the day-to-day dealings of most consultants: the hassle of the procurement process.

When asking the audience, “Who in here loves the procurement process?”, Chris Stern FCSI was met with laughs, but no answer. The managing director of Stern Consultancy believes that several actions need to be taken in regards to procurement for foodservice projects.

These actions include simplification of the process, increased communication and transparency, and for parties to plan and stick to realistic timetables. While believing the procurement process is vital, it is also imperative to have cooperation between procurement personnel and caterers in Stern’s view.

As millennials continue to overturn the industry, and new trends drive out old methods, the foodservice sector is forced to confront an ever-increasing pile of spatial and logistical challenges. EP Magazine successfully confronted these issues at the conference, with a range of expert speakers addressing just what they believe the future of foodservice to be.

More information on EP Magazine: http://www.epmagazine.co.uk/

Emily Lewis

This year, Bidfood hosted its second ever plate2planet summit in London’s Crystal, one of the world’s most sustainable buildings. With 1/3 of food products wasted across the globe, the summit put sustainability and waste at the centre of the discussion, reports Emily Lewis

Hosted by Steve Malkin, CEO of sustainability consultancy Planet First and founder of sustainable certification The Planet Mark, this year’s summit kicked off by confronting some key challenges facing the foodservice industry today.

Addressing an auditorium filled with industry professionals, Malkin outlined the criteria for the day – exploring the impact and solutions to global food waste; the implications of food poverty; and finally, how to create sustainable menus.

What a waste

Keynote speaker, Michael Jones of Waste and Resources Action Programme (WRAP), lead the guests through the implications of food waste today, before rounding up with a call to action. Jones cited staggering statistics, including figures such as 18% of food bought in the foodservice and hospitality industry being wasted overall. This amounts to a huge £2.5bn worth of food thrown away by this sector alone.

Not all was doom and gloom, however, as Jones recounted WRAP’s success in their Hospitality and Foodservice Agreement: from 2015 to 2017, food and packaging waste in the UK was reduced by 11%, and 24,000 tonnes of food saved from being thrown away.

Making a change

Bidfood and WRAP are looking to continue this success, sharing with the crowd their various initiatives aimed at helping restaurants and companies cut their waste levels. WRAP introduced its focus on preventative action for businesses – by looking at spoilage levels, preparation waste and plate waste, using resources created by WRAP and available on plate2planet’s website, companies can measure food waste and act on their findings.

Shirley Duncalf, head of sustainable development at Bidfood, explored the obstacles to ethical initiatives such as cutting back on food waste, and why more companies have not yet engaged. In it’s food sustainability survey, Bidfood found that, although reducing waste is amongst the top ethical initiatives for operators in the next three years, there are still a number of challenges faced by customers, including lack of knowledge about the issues.

Another obstacle to ethical initiatives emerged during the survey – currently customers and operators feel there is no clear strategy or defined spokesperson for the movement. Duncalf went on from this to explain that Bidfood, currently working with 18 partners including Unilever and Quorn, are looking to secure representation from all areas within the supply chain. This would enable collaboration, and the potential to lead the push for industry change.

The next movement: the sustainable menu

Before serving a buffet lunch made with only sustainable methods and ingredients, plate2planet conducted a live debate between various industry experts. Among those on the debating panel were Andrew Steven, chief executive of the Sustainable Restaurant Association (SRA) and Wendy Duncan, the R&D technical manager at Unilever, who shared their own experiences of success with sustainable menus.

While noting that many operators have experienced substantial successes since switching to sustainable alternatives on their menus, Duncan also pointed out that many within the foodservice industry do not know what a sustainable menu actually means.

Panel member David Jones, director of technical services at Bidfood UK, was the one to confront the explanation of exactly what is involved in a sustainable menu. An overarching definition was  a menu that considered the end-to-end supply chain in its dishes.

While all panel members acknowledged that it would be almost impossible to attempt sustainability in every aspect of a menu, all advocated that operators should aim to select one part of the supply chain where they can reduce their waste production – whether that be carbon footprint, or meat consumption.

Overall, Bidfood’s second plate2planet 2017 was a great success – an educational experience that set out not to name-and-shame operators, but rather point out that the road to sustainability is one travelled with small and manageable steps.

Emily Lewis

GlobalData has predicted a shift in inspiration for the foodservice industry, with consumers looking globally for unique ingredients and methods. Emily Lewis reports on GlobalData’s ‘Tracking the Tastemaker’s’ webinar

Hosted by Joanna Smart of Business Review, GlobalData’s webinar focused on the latest movements and newest predictions of the speciality and gourmet foodservice sector. Presenting was Tom Vierhile, the innovation insights director for GlobalData PLC. A veteran of the foodservice industry, Vierhile has over 20 years experience in packaged goods reporting and analysis.

Amalgamating the results of several GlobalData surveys and reports over recent years, the presentation honed in on eight key trends that are set to emerge in a big way over the course of 2018. A theme that prevailed throughout each trend was the drive for new flavours from under-explored geographic locations.

Less is more

Vierhile started off the webinar by tackling just what consumers believe to be speciality or gourmet products. Authenticity and unique flavour combinations were two key features, alongside size.

Consumers’ association of gourmet with speciality ingredients has subsequently led to the association of gourmet food with smaller batches, due to the perceived lack of availability and exclusivity of these ingredients.

The rise of smaller portions has also coincided with the health push that has been an overriding theme of recent years. As the percentage of consumers choosing to have a post-dinner dessert has declined by half since the 1980s, cake and pastry products have been met with hard times.

However, increasing healthy lifestyle choices has also led to a surge in consumers seeking a chance to gorge on a tasty treat, and small, sweet products allow the best of both – portion control and indulgence.

Smaller size is increasingly seen as a mark of quality, with independent companies paired with higher quality and unique products. Heirloom innovation was another key idea covered by Vierhile, as he explained these old-style fruits and vegetables as the antithesis of commercial corporations.

This trend towards smaller sizes and independent companies may seem negative for larger corporations. However, Vierhile cites companies such as Casamigos tequila distillery, co-founded by George Clooney and acquisitioned this year by UK drinks firm Diageo for $1bn, to highlight that bigger companies can take advantage of the success of smaller businesses.

Power of the past

Findings over the past several years have also shown that the younger generations have a propensity for the products of yore – perhaps surprisingly, even more so than older generations.

GlobalData asked consumers to state their stance on the statement: “products from the past are better than the ones available today”. Overall, 52% of those asked stated that they would “completely or somewhat agree” with the statement, and 57% of 25 to 34 year olds agree that products from the past trump those from more recent years.

With Vierhile stating that the “affinity for nostalgia is strong and rising among all age groups”, the obvious issue that arises is how foodservice companies can innovate, while embracing tastes from the past.

But Vierhile has emphasised the positivity of this trend, stating that consumers have a fondness for things they have grown up with. Inviting the foodservice industry to modernise flavours to make them relevant again, Vierhile’s webinar has made it evident that there is a goldmine of tried and tested flavours at the industry’s disposal.

Food without borders

However, the permeating theme throughout each emerging trend is taste. Each of the eight trends covered in the GlobalData webinar, including alcoholic flavourings and floral accents, are manifestations of a larger consumer focus on new taste and flavour experiences.

Flavour innovations often originate within the speciality and gourmet foods sector, says Vierhile, and this means that there is much experimentation with new or previously lesser-known ingredients, such as ethnic recipes.

Vierhile cross-referenced the findings of several surveys to conclude that African and South American flavours have the potential to provide new inspiration for innovation. When asked, American consumers revealed that Chinese, Italian and American were at the top of the list for ethnic cuisines consumed most regularly, at 37%, 34% and 19%, respectively.

Consumers were also asked which countries they associated with high quality food and drink. While Africa and South America received no votes, 60% of consumers chose Europe as a hub of luxury foodstuffs, and the US received an equally respectable 33%.

The lack of popularity of African and South American flavours looks promising, according to Vierhile, who sees the lack of consumer engagement with these countries’ cuisines as a chance to innovate with their unique flavours.

The take-home message

However, according to Vierhile, it is innovation itself that has been the largest influence on the foodservice industry. The rate of invention and change within the industry, combined with the low barrier entry for new companies, has led to a much quicker turnover of products and flavours than ever before.

The ability of social media to rapidly circulate information about new ingredients and commodities means that trends can now keep up with seasonal changes, such as Starbuck’s über-popular Pumpkin Spice Latte.

Overall, consumers have shown themselves as increasingly willing to pay higher prices for the sake of indulgence, and seeking out those brands that can provide the latest in flavour experimentation and innovation.

Emily Lewis

In the first discussion, hosted by journalist Victoria Stewart, London operators KERB gathered some of street food’s leading lights to reflect on the movement’s progress, reports Thomas Lawrence

KERB discovered a winning recipe when, just over five years ago, its first site opened in Kings Cross for small-scale food vendors to sell their tasty wares. Since then the company has come to dominate the British capital’s food scene. It’s now moving into panel discussions, sharing insights from operators, vendors and commentators on the prolific rise of street eating.

The first discussion, held on 25 October in Shoreditch’s Hoxton Hotel, took a broad look at how far street food has come and trends for the road ahead. On the panel was macaroni cheese aficionado Tony Solomon of Anna Mae, Bleecker Burgers’ Zan Kauffman, street food enthusiast and lecturer in human geography Regan Koch and KERB’s MD, Simon Mitchell.

Street food past and present

Two main themes emerged from the evening’s talk – street food’s prolific emergence and spread over the last decade, and persistent challenges for vendors in an increasingly competitive market.

The origins of street food’s current popularity offer some insights into the trials ahead. According to Regan Koch, street food took a “gourmet turn” in 2008. With economic downturn biting and the cost of starting a restaurant going up, culinary professionals hoping to make a name for themselves ventured out to the roadside.

It’s an important point to note: as the economy has declined, street food has surged. Koch emphasised the rise of “tactical urbanism” as a subsequent trend, with small-scale interventions breathing new life into communities despite the gloom. Street food has been a big part of this, temporarily adding life to a space and becoming a permanent fixture if it works well.

Just as a “perfect storm” gave rise to street food as an outlet 10 years ago according to Zan Kauffman, operators are looking to diversify their offering to overcome the hostile climate today. High inflation, enthusiasm of policymakers and relatively low barriers to entry increase the appeal of innovative delivery for traditional restaurateurs and caterers.

The growing phenomenon of food courts shows how the sector is adapting. They are an important first rung in the culinary ladder, reflected in the graduation of food traders to prestige locations like Boxpark. As Simon Mitchell says, “food courts and vendors coexist”, providing a forum for tapping into high demand with low overheads. Furthermore, Mitchell points out that food courts can become part of “the fabric of an area” – since KERB opened in Kings Cross, the area has undergone massive development.

As street food becomes more popular and supply catches up with demand, the terrain has become more difficult for vendors to navigate. In addition to sympathetic spaces like food courts becoming saturated, Mitchell notes many traditional restaurants are now trying to change the way they serve to “emulate the success of street food”. From a vendor’s perspective, Tony Solomon says this has heralded a rethink – many consider festivals and restaurants more profitable ventures than the conventional roadside route. It’s clear that sellers are working hard to adapt with the times.

Pavement pioneers

Although London’s street food offering trumps that of many global cities, the panel concluded more needs to be done. Koch enjoined regulators to be “more experimental” – with so many unused spaces in the nation’s capital, London could do more to give their street food scenes a helping hand. New York’s license-based model for aspiring hawkers offers inspiration from across the Atlantic.

From the vendor side, tastes are changing all the time. Koch, for example, says all his students are talking about veganism, while Solomon agrees it is “massive” and likely to dominate foodservice in the years ahead.

And what about advice for would-be vendors? Despite Solomon’s warning that “something has to give” as inflation creeps up, the panel were upbeat regarding their work and optimistic about the prospects for new entrants. Kauffman argued that street food is “cheap, it’s accessible and it’s good” – sticking to this simple formula is the key to success for sellers new and old, particularly with operators like KERB in place as a “support system”. Picking up on this theme, Mitchell pointed out that KERB has a new incubator scheme to pull in new traders, an income support scheme on markets to improve access of entry and another initiative in the making to help former prisoners with opportunities to trade.

The most important takeaway – aside from the delicious doughnut bites on offer for attendees – was that street food is thriving. Consultants searching for insights as fresh as the sector’s produce should keep watch for new instalments in this interesting panel series.

Thomas Lawrence

Leading UK dishwashing manufacturer opens brand new facility with capacity for 16,000 units

Classeq, the British warewashing manufacturer owned by Winterhalter, has opened a new, specially designed factory in Stafford, UK.

The factory, which opened officially on Wednesday 18 October, is located a few miles away from the company’s previous factory in Hixon, Staffordshire. Classeq’s workforce of 40 employees have all moved across to the new factory, which has a show room facility, a call centre for spare parts, ordering and technical enquiries and a manufacturing capacity to produce 15,000 warewashing machines each year, including the brand’s new undercounter DUO range, which launched earlier this year.

This year Classeq is celebrating 40 years of production in the UK since it first started producing dishwashers for commercial kitchens in the pub, restaurant, hotel and cafe sectors in 1977.

New milestones

Jürgen Winterhalter, formerly CEO and a director of Winterhalter, said of the factory opening: “We are very proud of Classeq. It is the only UK manufacturer of dishwashers and is well set for the future. This new factory shows our commitment to the brand and its future. We are proud to celebrate a new milestone.”

At the opening party, which included a tree-planting ceremony, Jürgen Winterhalter also praised the company’s Manfred Rieger, who is retiring this year, for his “substantial contribution” to the business. David Smithson, managing director of Classeq, also thanked Rieger for his years of service while stating how positive he is for the brand’s future in its new setting. “This is an incredibly exciting move in Classeq’s growth and underpins our 100% commitment to our manufacturing future in the UK.”

Classeq’s technical director Gary Jones also marked the opening of the new factory with an epic bicycle ride, pedalling from Stafford to Winterhalter’s headquarters in Meckenbeuren, Germany, clocking up 1,400 kilometres in 11 days, to pick up the keys to the new facility from Jürgen Winterhalter and his son Ralph, CEO of Winterhalter.

Rigorous testing

The new factory in Stafford boasts impressive manufacturing capabilities in a state-of-the-art facility. It currently takes the Classeq team just one hour and six minutes to make its undercounter machines from scratch, with the goal to get this down to under one hour in the near future.

Pass-through machines take between 2-3 hours to build from a fresh order being received, the aim being to reduce this down to 1.5 hours next year.

Every machine in the factory undergoes at least 45 minutes of rigorous testing and is issued with a unique serial number for its entire life cycle. Machines are shipped across the world, with the brand performing well in South Africa and Australia, while the factory is currently producing between 30-50 machines just for the UK market each day.

Michael Jones

SoCalGas’ Foodservice Equipment Expo to offer hands-on testing of newest energy-efficient and money-saving commercial kitchen equipment

Southern California Gas Co. (SoCalGas) will host its 7th annual Foodservice Equipment Expo, one of the industry’s largest showcases of innovative commercial kitchen equipment for foodservice professionals, in Downey on 24-25 October. Equipment manufacturers will demonstrate their newest products and show how these technologies can help businesses save energy, reduce operating costs and improve their brands. The expo is free for chefs, caterers, restaurateurs, dealers, consultants and other foodservice industry professionals.

“The Foodservice Equipment Expo provides foodservice professionals with a unique opportunity to try out the most innovative and energy-efficient natural gas fired commercial equipment available,” said Dan Rendler, director of customer programs and assistance at SoCalGas. “In addition to being able to test the equipment hands-on, the expo will provide attendees the necessary information and resources to make informed decisions when considering kitchen upgrades.”

Perfect opportunity

“The yearly Foodservice Equipment Expo is the perfect opportunity for chefs, restaurant owners and potential business owners to come in and check out equipment before it goes in their kitchen,” said Tarit Tanjasiri, owner of The Crema Café and Crema Artisan Bakers in Orange County. “It’s a great environment, and unlike other foodservice trade shows, there’s a focus on natural gas fired equipment, which is pertinent to our kitchen.”

The expo will include interactive booths displaying equipment for the entire kitchen, from ovens to fryers to ice machines and more. Live cooking demonstrations and tastings will be prepared by culinary students. There will also be discussions on equipment maintenance, current health codes and food waste, as well as networking opportunities with foodservice professionals and representatives from over 75 equipment manufacturers.

The expo will be held on 24-25 October from 10:00 am until 3 pm at the SoCalGas Energy Resource Center (ERC), 9240 Firestone Blvd, Downey, CA 90241. To register for the event, click here.

SoCalGas’ Foodservice Equipment Center offers a variety of services for commercial food service operators, including equipment demonstrations, educational seminars and rebates, year-round. The Center is located within the company’s ERC, which was the first building in California to receive Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) “green building” recognition and one of only two buildings in the state to be awarded Platinum Level LEED by the U.S. Green Building Council.

About SoCalGas:

Headquartered in Los Angeles, SoCalGas® is the largest natural gas distribution utility in the United States, providing clean, safe, affordable and reliable natural gas service to 21.7 million customers in Central and Southern California. Its service territory spans 22,000 square miles from Fresno to the Mexican border, reaching more than 550 communities through 5.9 million meters and 101,000 miles of pipeline. More than 90 percent of Southern California single-family home residents use natural gas for home heat and hot water. In addition, natural gas plays a key role in providing electricity to Californians—about 60 percent of electric power generated in the state comes from gas-fired power plants.

SoCalGas has served communities in California for 150 years and is committed to being a leader in the region’s clean energy future. The company has committed to spending $6 billion over the next five years to modernize and upgrade its gas infrastructure, while also reducing methane emissions. SoCalGas is working to accelerate the use of renewable natural gas, a carbon-neutral or carbon-negative fuel created by capturing and conditioning greenhouse gas emissions from farms, landfills and wastewater treatment plants. The company is a subsidiary of Sempra Energy (NYSE: SRE), a Fortune 500 energy services holding company based in San Diego. For more information visit socalgas.com/newsroom or connect with SoCalGas on Twitter (@SoCalGas), Instagram (@SoCalGas) and Facebook.


On 26-27 September, Restaurant Technology Live 2017 delivered the latest and greatest in cutting-edge foodservice tech

For the past two days, this year’s Restaurant Technology Live show chose to sport the hashtag #Hungry4growth on Twitter. The show certainly showcased this appetite for innovative dining tech, providing copious servings of gizmos and gadgets to satisfy the cravings of any foodservice tech-enthusiast.

Running alongside Restaurant Tech Live were, amongst others, sister shows Takeaway & Restaurant Innovation Expo, Hotel Tech Live and Bar Tech Live.

We’ve seen the future, and it’s flexible foodservice

Speaking to Chris Stern FCSI, managing director of UK-based Stern Consultancy, he reveals his predictions about the future of foodservice. Currently working on projects with a range of diverse clients, including Microsoft and Northampton University, Stern explains the trend towards smaller, assorted catering options.

“Rather than a single, large restaurant right in the middle of a location, consumers are wanting more choice in the form of smaller, pop-up outlets,” says Stern.

“Catering strategy needs to be a fundamental part of building design,” he explains. “Considering this has great implications for staff wellbeing, engagement and productivity.”

Driving customer loyalty

Marcin Korowiecki, head of systems at high-street restaurant chain Jamie’s Italian, detailed his own experiences in modernising customer loyalty systems, and capitalising on the possibility of data capture to enhance customer experiences.

“We realised how much data we had, and how much we could do with it. But we didn’t really have the right channels to use that data. We had to start engaging our customers,” explains Koroweicki.

“The next step was defining ways of digital engagement, to actually engage with the public and make sure people feel close to Jamie Oliver and the restaurant. This linked to what systems we chose on the back-end, to make sure we can quickly process data to get feedback from customers for the right outcome.”

However, Koroweicki also recognised the implications of GDPR coming into play next year.

“With GDPR oncoming, we will have to develop ways to make use of these restrictions on data to maintain our high level of customer engagement,” says Koroweicki.

Amongst the other keynote speakers present at this year’s show were John Aizlewood, market growth officer at Pizza Hut, and Christopher Fung, former CEO at UK juice and healthy-eating bar Crussh.

Further details:

To find out more about Restaurant Technology Live, visit: http://www.restauranttechlive.co.uk.


Emily Lewis

There will be a continuous seminar programme of events on the FCSI booth across all tradeshow days, from breakfast through to after-work happy hour

For the first time at HostMilano, FCSI will provide a continuous programme on all tradeshow days at its booth, starting with breakfast and concluding with an after-work happy hour. In between, attendees can expects presentations, workshops and roundtable discussions all centred on the theme ‘Food and hospitality in the future’. The theme was decided upon following a survey of FCSI members.

Among the topics to be addressed are: industry best practice for the safe management of allergens; active and intelligent packaging to reduce waste and improve the shelf-life of food; food and beverage trends in the Middle East hotel sector, food safety and energy saving in foodservice.

Three times a day, attendees will also have the chance to attend ‘Face-to-face with the experts’ sessions where they can ask questions to FCSI international consultants in retail, catering, banqueting, food and hospitality. The European Federation of Catering Equipment Manufacturers (EFCEM) will also deliver a 45-minute presentation every day before lunch.

In person communication

The face-to-face element of the show is an integral part of helping FCSI to communicate its message and vision, says Remko van der Graaff FCSI, chair of FCSI Europe, Africa, Middle East (EAME). “These trips and events are important for me as the chair of the EAME division. It is really good to get to know each other face to face, not just through LinkedIn – meeting people in person will bring the Society forward and when I meet people it is an opportunity for me share with them my vision, my message and my goals.”

For Martin Rahmann FCSI, past chair of FCSI EAME, HostMilano 2017 is the most important tradeshow on the annual calendar. He says, “From my longstanding experience, I can say to you that there is no other fair where we can meet members, partners and friends from South America, Asia, the Middle East, Africa and Europe.

“For our members, this fair is an integral part of their diary and we can offer a frame for conversations, negotiations and networking. We [also] expect to become acquainted with many new trends and with new technological devices in the industry.”

Expert insight

At the event, Michael Jones, editorial director of FCSI’s Foodservice Consultant magazine will also be hosting an FCSI consultant expert roundtable, supported by Electrolux, at the show on Saturday 21 October.

The roundtable will focus on the topic of designing and creating high-performing, sustainable smarter and leaner kitchens’ and will include William Taunton FCSI (Chile), Thomas Mertens FCSI (Germany), Frank Wagner FCSI (Germany), Roger Obeid FCSI (Lebanon), Alexander Hofer FCSI (Italy), Ken Schwartz FCSI (US) and Nahum Goldberg FCSI (US) amongst others. While the roundtable itself will be behind closed doors, a write-up of the event will appear on this website and in the Q1 2018 edition of the magazine.

Further details:

The FCSI booth is located at Pavillion 2 Stand A12-B07. The full FCSI seminar programme schedule is available here.

Elly Earls

Over 330 exhibitors and speakers have come together to celebrate the 10th anniversary of the Lunch! Show, reports Emily Lewis

Thursday 21 September saw the kick off of this year’s Lunch! Show, a trade-only event dedicated to solely the food-to-go sector. Having moved locations to the more spacious London ExCel centre, the show organisers promised an array of insight from industry leaders such as Starbucks and EAT, alongside promising newcomers.

Speaking to Chris Brazier, one of the show’s organisers, he highlights the focus of Lunch! as one of its core strengths. “By keeping the show targeted at the food-to-go sector, the experience of our attendees is kept relevant and efficient.”

Brazier recognises the major developments in the food-to-go sector that have taken place over the show’s 10 years, with brands becoming increasingly health-conscious, and expanding their scope into mealtimes other than lunch.

Offering everything from the exotic Little Moon’s black expresso mochi ice cream to CocoPro’s coconut water laced with whey protein, the Lunch! Show delivered on their promise.

Polarisation of quick food

As the day continued, a consistent theme arose among the exhibitors and speakers alike. Earlier, Brazier identified this trend in the food-to-go industry: as brands become more health conscious, this opens up space for indulgent food and drink products.

Brazier’s observation of this polarisation was also spotted by UK coffee house EAT’s CEO, Andrew Walker. Taking part in a Q&A on Thursday, Walker stated that the secret to EAT is consumer choice. He believes that, while competitors have concentrated efforts on delivering mainly healthy options, EAT believes that “you’ve got to have indulgence where indulgence is right”, offering consumers “good mood food”.

Detailing in the Q&A that EAT is striving for a balance between indulgence and health for consumers, Walker’s ideas reflected what was embodied in the range of exhibitors present at Lunch!.

Side by side stood exhibitors such as the Food Doctor, with kale and cashew Goodness Bars, and the Broderick Brothers, offering peanut butter and caramel flapjacks.

Lunch! revealed how far the food-to-go sector is able to cater for changing diets. With the 2016 British Social Survey reporting that 33% of Brits have either cut back or completely excluded meat from their diets, the number of exhibitors catering for vegetarian and vegan consumers was at an all-time high.

Innovation challenge

Innovation was a keyword on the show-floor, with the food-to-go industry seeing more products launched in the past 12 months than ever before.

“These advancements are reflected in the show’s Innovation Challenge, which works as a measure of the advancements taking place in the industry,” explained Brazier.

The Innovation Challenge allows Lunch! attendees to vote for their favourite products showcased throughout the show’s two days. Last night, the finalists were announced, including last year’s winners Karma Cola UK and show newbies Born Tasty with their easy avocado snack, Snackamolé.

Innovation was not just a target for new arrivals to the scene, however, with global coffee house Starbucks delivering their own keynote speech on new products and initiatives within the EMEA markets.

Rachel Chatterton, senior innovation manager at Starbucks EMEA, described the success of the company’s newest product, the nitro cold brew. After having proved its popularity in UK markets, 2018 is set to see the rollout of nitro cold brew throughout the whole of Europe.

“What cold coffee provides my team with is the opportunity to innovate,” says Chatterton. “It gives us a completely new space to create products that we’re really proud of.”

The future of Lunch!

As the popularity of food-to-go and the Lunch! Show itself continues to grow, Brazier emphasises the show’s commitment to responsible growth.

Having already sold out three months early, next year’s show will expand by only 25 stalls, in an effort to maintain Lunch!’s commitment to relevance and quality to the food-to-go sector.

With the show’s first day a resounding success, and it’s second day already well underway, Brazier promises that Lunch! 2018 will be “bigger and better,” and that the show is grateful for the support from the industry.

Further details

Finalists of the Innovation Challenge are to be announced on 22 September. For more information about Lunch!, please visit: http://www.lunchshow.co.uk/

Emily Lewis