Foodservice distributors and chemical and machinery manufacturers alike can differentiate themselves by offering foodservice end users value-added services ranging from employee training assistance to information on the latest regulations of food safety to technology-enabled efficiency and labor-saving devices. End users in restaurants, hotels, and other foodservice settings are challenged to remain efficient, compliant, and profitable on a regular basis. Distributors or chemical suppliers that offer cleaning chemicals, tools, or machinery to help end users with these issues are seen as valued partners, and loyalty is developed as a result. For example, foodservice distributor Gordon offers a foodservice regulatory compliance program, including online training modules, webinars, and nutrition resources that helps keep their customers coming back to them.
Technology-enabled efficiency and labor-saving devices also have applications in foodservice. Although such devices are still in nascent stages, industrial Internet of Things (IoT) where things are connected to the Internet and are able to communicate and react to other things could have a significant impact on foodservice efficiency and food safety. IoT can be beneficial if used in commercial kitchen equipment, such as warewash machines, cleaning chemical dispensers, and cooking equipment, such as refrigerators, ovens, fryers, and cooling/prep tables, as it can help reduce unplanned downtime by predicting when service is needed and providing alerts to users. Smart chemical dispensers are offered by Diversey and Hydro Systems and help ensure worker safety and consistency. For example, Hydro Systems’ Antares warewash dispensers offer downloadable reports on chemical usage and cost per rack. Warewash machine manufacturers also offer smart warewash machines to help end users track machine temperatures and maintenance needs. For example, Hobart’s Advansys technology provides energy-, time-, and water-saving equipment to its foodservice end users. Other time- and temperature-tracking software are available, not just on kitchen equipment, but on food packaging itself via RFID tags enabling foodservice managers to ensure the food has been kept at safe temperatures throughout its whole lifecycle. Even further food safety compliance can be achieved using IoT where USDA recalls and product advisory information are tied directly to restaurant inventory, providing the assurance of food safety and compliance.
New Devices Aiming to Improve the Efficiency of Foodservice Segment
Foodservice end users also appreciate support with managing social media’s impact on their business, such as Yelp, Open Table, or other reviews/images. Restaurants in fast-food or fast-casual settings may also be considering adding POS kiosks or food-ordering tablets as labor-saving devices, but may need some real-world experiences to help make this decision. Foodservice managers deal with all of these issues on a regular basis, and distributors or chemical/equipment manufacturers that can offer solid suggestions and support are likely to build customer loyalty.
As part of Kline’s Foodservice Cleaning Products: U.S. Market Analysis and Opportunities study, we will ask hundreds of foodservice end users about these and other important issues impacting their business. This study will provide in-depth analysis of major product categories, distribution channels, warewash machinery, and the critical issues affecting the market, including consolidation, alternative formats, direct selling, and private labeling.