The world of ice and refrigeration is certainly a cool sector to work in – it is also one that remains at the forefront of technology.
As Hoshizaki’s export sales manager, Paul de Jong has his finger on the pulse of latest trends and requirements for ice and refrigeration across the globe. Traditionally, Paul admits that the opening of any customer conversation when it came to Hoshizaki’s expertise was around ice, but since the integration with leading refrigeration manufacturer Gram, Hoshizaki has a range of refrigeration solutions for modern kitchens. In fact, since introducing the ADVANCE and PREMIER refrigeration series, Hoshizaki has an even more accessible and competitive range of refrigeration:
“Hoshizaki is the world leader in the ice machine market so that tends to be where the conversation starts. But in recent years we have also started to be recognised for the quality of our refrigeration range. Whilst mature markets such as the UK have been able to see the value of high-quality refrigeration and are willing to invest more, that’s not always been the case with all countries. However, with the introduction of the ADVANCE and PREMIER ranges we now have a high-quality competitive range which gives us a chance to further grow this opportunity – this is particularly exciting when the refrigeration market is nearly four times as big as the ice machine market.”
Uwe Reimer agrees that traditionally price-driven markets, such as Eastern Europe, have recently shifted their stance to place a higher value on quality equipment bringing them in line with large international groups, such as McDonalds, Subway, and Hilton Hotels, as Uwe explains:
“International groups are fully aware of, and focused on, the total life costs of heavy equipment. Beyond financial motivations, we’re also seeing brands placing a higher emphasis on the environmental impact of appliances. Big corporations have estimated their refrigeration units are opened up to 70 times per hour, meaning they need high-performing equipment to keep up. The calculations that the large organisations make will even analyse how long door gaskets last before needing to be replaced. If by purchasing quality equipment, this saves €100 per unit, when you apply this to hundreds of locations worldwide, it adds up to a staggering figure.”
With an increased height of 750mm to provide greater comfort while working, the ergonomic PREMIER range can be purchased with varied door and drawer combinations and have been designed to complement the cabinet counterparts in Hoshizaki’s flagship range.
The units benefit from a range of new features, including a soft close door (optional) for fast paced kitchens. Not only does this mean less wear and tear on the appliance, it also improves operator safety and helps eradicate the risk of a fast closing door, sucking in warm air, which could impact the unit’s efficiency and pose food hygiene concerns.
Environmentally conscious operators will also appreciate the PREMIER counter’s improved ‘A’ energy efficiency award. Hoshizaki’s flagship PREMIER range has been particularly popular with such groups, thanks to their high-end performance, enhanced hygiene-led features, and the seamless design which means that both cabinets and counters can easily be suited together for a uniform aesthetic. For smaller chains or independents, Uwe noted that Hoshizaki’s ADVANCE refrigerator range was an extremely popular option, available at a competitive price point.
Despite the excitement around the new refrigeration range, recent developments in ice have also allowed high quality outlets to differentiate themselves from the competition by upgrading to premium ice options as Uwe continues:
“High-end bars instantly set themselves apart from competitors with premium ice. In fact, I would say that only true quality establishments really appreciate the importance of ice quantity, quality, and shape.”
But premium ice is not simply about standing out from the crowd, it can also significantly increase the price that customers are willing to pay, as Paul highlights:
“Operators have quickly discovered that customers are willing to pay a premium price for high-quality ice. Rather than charging €10 for a standard cocktail, operators can charge €12-£13 per drink, simply by using premium sphere ice. At hundreds of drinks per night, even just three nights per week, this can quickly add up.”
Uwe closed by hinting at the extensive end-user research that is currently underway ahead of the launch of Hoshizaki’s next generation of ice makers:
“We have some very exciting developments on the way with regards to ice, but it is important that we listen to the operator on what they actually want. We are conscious that listening to the customer is essential – there is little point including the latest widgets, if the operator doesn’t need the benefit or want to pay an increased premium.”
For more impressions on Hoshizaki’s 2023 presence at Host Milan and see the brand-new portfolio, please visit https://hoshizaki-europe.com/hoshizaki-at-host-milano-2023/