Home Food Service Commercial kitchens set to evolve with high-tech kitchen equipments

Commercial kitchens set to evolve with high-tech kitchen equipments

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A commercial kitchen, complete with automated equipments, is necessary for optimum functionality, efficiency, and minimum wastage of resources such as material and energy.

A modern kitchen could necessitate a walk-in cooling unit, a single, double or triple-door freezer (depending on the size and scope of the food service operation), a refrigerated line station, storage shelves for perishable, non-perishable and dry food items, an industrial range hood and H-VAC ventilation system, automatic cooking tops or stove, broiler (or an open flame grill cook grilled meats), an oven or a combi-oven, an industrial salamander. (to keep plated foods hot prior to service),, prep tables and cutting surfaces for food preparation preferably of stainless steel, meat slicers, mixers , grinders, food processors or industrial-size mixers, sprinkler system and fire extinguishers as required by local fire department regulations, a triple-sink wash station and commercial dishwashers.

With the exposure of chefs to international food service operations, there is a huge demand for professional kitchen equipments, which are gradually replacing traditional methods of cooking. However, India’s food service market is still evolving with respect to using the latest cooking equipments, and the laws and regulations governing commercial kitchens. For instance, in developed markets, food service operators are not issued the license to operate unless they have installed a dishwasher in their kitchens. In India, where the food service market is largely unorganised, manual cleaning is still the norm, but change is definitely setting in, albeit slowly.

In such a scenario, creating awareness about kitchen equipment, kitchen hygiene and safety, is very important. Restaurateurs and chefs need to understand that modern equipments being offered by known brands offer value for money. Locally fabricated equipment may come cheap, but they only increase maintenance and running costs in the long run.

Suppliers of international commercial kitchen equipment, distributors, and fabricators share the changes and challenges in the Indian food service market, and their brands’ growth in a buoyant market.

Sanjeevak Marwaha, Managing Director, Winterhalter India

New Delhi-based Winterhalter India, a 100 percent owned subsidiary of Winterhalter Gastronom GmbH, Germany, forayed into the Indian market in 2007 with a range of dishwashing machines, water treatment units, chemicals and accessories for dishwashers, and dishwashers such as under counter series, pass through series, utensil washers, single tank and multi-tank rack conveyor machines, and multi-tank flight type machines.

In India, Winterhalter’s under counter, pass through and single tank rack conveyor dishwashing machines are the largest selling in terms of units, with sales increase of 12 to15 percent year-on-year. “Over the years, we have observed tremendous change in the outlook of the investors and customers towards the hygiene factor in terms of dishwashing. Today, even smaller food service outlets modernising and taking measures to ensure cleanliness and hygiene, which is increasing demand for commercial dishwashers,” says Marwaha.

The company sales offices are in Delhi, Mumbai, Bangalore and Chennai, with a dedicated sales and service team for each region. Says Marwaha, “They regularly interact with prospective and existing clients, kitchen consultants and planners, and with executive chefs, and give them presentations, product catalogues, and other technical details of our dishwashers. The objective is to raise awareness of the range and potential of our dishwashers.”

Winterhalter India’s list of food service clients include, , Oberoi Hotels, ITC, Marriott, Radisson, The Leela Palaces, Hotels and Resorts, , Sterling Resorts, Resorts, and . Corporate and industrial clients include companies such as TCS, Infosys, Google, Microsoft, Bharti Airtel, Genpact, Maruti Suzuki, Titan, Fortis, Reliance Industries, and Godrej & Boyce.

But the company has to contend with operational challenges such as high import duties and lack of awareness about the latest equipments in the market. “High import duties are a deterrent to the growth of our product in the Indian market. If the government can lower the custom duties, it would be extremely beneficial to our customers. Another hurdle is in educating customers that a high quality, branded equipment would bring them better returns on their investment as compared to equipment purchased from the unorganised market, ” says Marwaha.

Rakesh Tara, Country Manager (India), Angelo Po

Angelo Po, the 90 year old Italy-based supplier to professional kitchens across the globe, entered India in 2005. Rapid growth in the country’s HoReCa sector marked the company’s decision to set-up a base in 2011. The company offers a wide range of cooking equipment, refrigerators, combiovens and a host of related equipments.

“Modular cooking range and ovens are the most popular in the Indian market; they contribute 50 percent of the revenue; followed by our refrigerators, blast chillers, freezers, refrigerated displays, pizza range, and pastry refrigeration range, which generate 35 percent sales revenue. The remaining 15 percent is contributed by the preparation range, self-service equipments, dishwashers, exhaust systems, salad bars and displays,” reveals Tara.

Angelo Po’s distribution network is divided across the four regions in the country, with two distributors in each region; 15 to 20 dealers are dedicated to project sales, and a service team provides maintenance to clients across the country, and in Nepal and Bhutan.

Company’s list of important clients includes The Oberoi, ITC Group, The Lalit, and Carlson Group. The foodservice segment generates 50 percent revenue; institutions contribute 35 percent and the catering segment 16 percent. Tara shares, “There is also an emerging list of potential clients such as temples, schools, offices, malls, and cinema halls. Our penetration is growing in phases from north to west, followed by the south, and now even the north east is showing great promise.”

Talking about the challenges, Tara points out, “Some of the key challenges curbing growth are the chefs’ unwillingness to adopt a new technology/equipment; and unexplained phobia of operational staff. The purchase department in most cases take the equipment buying decisions purely on financial negotiation/considerations rather than on the quality aspect. A price war, created by many industry players to increase volume sales, is not helping anyone – not even those who have started it.”

As a part of expansion drive, Angelo Po will be launching new models of combi ovens, Monolithe range and blast freezers in the market (check). Last year, the company had targetted 600,000 Euro turnover and achieved a reasonable 500,000 Euros. “In the coming 5 years we plan to achieve 1500,000 Euros, with current year’s target of 7,00,000 Euros. We plan to set up Angelo Po’s Indian subsidiary shortly,” informs Tara.

“Also, we have recently expanded our sales and service network to Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Nepal, and Bhutan. So we will focus on further leveraging these new markets, ” he adds.

Jestin Antony, MD and CEO, Meiko (Asia) Techcentre

Meiko’s Indian subsidiary, Meiko (Aisia) Techcentre was set up in 2007 with its headquarters in Bangalore and a branch office in New Delhi. Prior to 2007, Meiko was present in India through a distributor. Initially, Meiko supplied to the luxury hotels and was more prominent in catering kitchens supplying to air flights, where it held over 80-90 percent market share in India, covering almost all major catering companies supplying to air flights such as Oberoi Flight Services, Taj-SATS, Sky Gourmet and Ambassador Sky Chef. “We offered to the airplane catering kicthens segment with our top-end sophisticated flight type machines,” shares Antony.

In the last seven years, Meiko has gradually grown by a yearly 8 to10 percent. Its product range includes dishwashers and water treatment systems such as under counter glass washers, under counter glass and dishwashers, hood type dishwashers, pot washers, vegetable washers, basket/rack/conveyor type dishwashers, flight type dishwashers, conveyor systems and waste treatment systems. “Our largest selling products in the last seven years have been the hood type and basket conveyor type dishwashers, specifically in the hotel segment,” says Antony.

He adds, “Meiko’s newly launched M-iClean range of undercounter ware washers and M-iQ range of conveyor and flight type machines focusses on the green initiative/energy savings. I feel that these new generation machines will capture a major share in due course of time due to the huge savings in energy costs.”

The hotel segment currently contributes 50 percent of Meiko’s sales and the balance 50 percent is generated from institutional supplies and QSRs. In the hotel segment, Meiko supplies to all the such as Taj Hotels, Oberoi Hotels, ITC, The Leela, Starwood Hotels (Sheraton, Westin and Le Meridien), Grand Hyatt, Park Hyatt, Hyatt Regency, Intercontinental, Crowne Plaza, Holiday Inn, Pullman, Novotel, IBIS, JW Marriott, Marriott, and Marriott Courtyard. The company also supplies to many corporate canteens such as Infosys, Wipro, Mercedes Benz, HUL, Cognizant, HCL, Google, Linkedin, Bosch, Dell, TCS and HP, and to religious institutions like Akshardham Swaminarayan temple and Brahmakumaris temples across India.

Currently, Meiko sells through a network of kitchen contractors/ fabricators in the Indian market, Middle East and South East Asia. It also sells directly to customers in the inflight catering segment, corporate canteens, and religious institutions.
“India is a price sensitive market and there are a host of small, unorganised players present, who are offering dishwashing machines at a relatively cheaper price. But customers do not realise the quality difference between cheap and branded machines, which makes it difficult for us to compete with them. Establishing a dealer network to penetrate in tier II cities is another challenge for us as the required manpower with basic know-how and the expertise in these cities is limited,” observes Antony.

Meiko currently has a team of 27 sales and service engineers in various cities. “It has been Meiko’s focus to offer best after-sales service in all major cities where machines have been sold. As we expand our presence in smaller cities, we will have to continuously develop our service network, which is quite challenging,” he adds.

Besides India, the company plans to focus on markets such as Bangladesh, Srilanka, Nepal and Maldives. “These are upcoming markets for the hospitality business, so along with establishing our brand’s presence in tier II cities of India, we are also aiming to have a strong presence in these neighbouring nations by setting up a strong dealer network.”

“We expect that in the next couple of years institutional supply becomes a bigger contributor to our sales revenue, generating almost 50-60 percent sales. Meiko India eventually hopes to maintain a consistent 10 percent growth annually and plans to double its current turnover (???) by 2017,” anticipates Antony.

Pinaki Banerjee, Director, Rational India

Rational AG – German manufacturer of industrial ovens  – entered India around 6 years ago. Headquartered in New Delhi, Rational India is the only Rational subsidiary to grow by 136 percent in the company’s history of 40 years, and that too despite very low penetration in the Indian market. Globally, Rational has been growing by 10 percent every year. Rational India has a market share of over 70 percent in the country, and globally 54 percent market share.

The company is present in over 19 cities across India, and plans to extend distribution to all 28 state capitals by end of this year. “Our customer base has increased from 1,000 in 2013 to the current 2,500. We aim to have 10,000 customers in India within 5 years. I feel there is huge potential given the fact that the food service industry is growing very fast,” says Banerjee.

Rational India has a network of 106 strategically located dealers, who understand their regions well and create brand awareness for Rational products. “I call them
‘geographic gorillas’; 75 percent of them have already doubled their business. By end of the year we aim to increase their number to 150,” notes Banerjee

North India contributes 50 percent revenue for Rational, followed by the West, which generates 30 percent revenue, and then the South with 20 percent. “We entered the South only 6 months back, but it is catching up fast; the market is more evolved here and the people are tech savvy. The North is very price sensitive. We have high expectations from the East, especially Kolkata, Bhuvaneshwar, Guwahati and Patna.

“Markets such as Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Pakistan and Nepal are also growing, and we will continue to develop these markets as well. Globally, our strongest markets are Germany, UK, Russia, followed by Sweden and Japan in terms of revenue. Important developing/growth markets for Rational are China, India, Brazil and USA. We are growing faster in India than in China as Indian food is more adaptable to our machines,” informs Banerjee.

To support its sales and post sales services, team of 70 chefs (freelance) to train clients on the use of machines. Rational India manages a network of 120 technicians across India for providing 24×7 service support, and is expanding the network to emerging markets such as Coimbatore, Bhuvneshwar, and Raipur, and plans to set up a strong base in Kolkata. Rational India aims to be among the top 10 subsidiaries in the next 5 years. “My biggest limitation is reach, as I have got a team of only 40 members, and for a huge country like India, the team is very, very small,” shares Banerjee.