Top Four Tech Trends in Food Services for 2021
By Tania Moffat
WITH MORE REASONS THAN EVER TO SPUR TECHNOLOGY TODAY, GAME-CHANGING ADVANCEMENTS ALTER how consumers interact with the food services sector. The single largest influencer of technology has been the COVID-19 pandemic, leading to the development of better health and safety measures over the last year. Other industry advances centre around developing more versatile equipment that caters to the growing demand for high-quality, fresh food and beverages.
Our top picks for innovative tech trends in 2021 include advancements in touchless technology, sanitization, heating, and the development of compact equipment capable of performing multiple functions.
Advancements in contactless technology have been driven in part by the pandemic. However, their entrance into the sector and popularity have been growing for some time. Touch screen technology is making way for safer options that allow customers to order, pickup and pay for their food and beverages digitally.
Quick Response (QR) code technology is one method being used to reduce surface contact. Franke Coffee Systems has added this feature to their digital services, making it possible to choose a beverage right from your smartphone. The web application opens once the QR code has been scanned, allowing customers to place their order without registering or downloading any apps. The existing touch screen system functions parallel to the contactless operation giving consumers a choice when making their selections. Franke’s digital services also allow owner/operators to manage their equipment’s sales, operational performance, change promotions or drink recipes, update software and more remotely.
C-stores have limited floor space, and owners require compact yet versatile equipment to meet growing foodservice needs. Customizable machines that can do more with less space and give customers a wider selection of options help maximize profits.
Franke’s A-line beverage dispensers contain several attractive features for operators and customers alike. The equipment’s configuration can be built on in stages by adding other grinders, flavour stations or even an optional iced coffee module available for the A800-A1000, S700 and SB1200 machines.
“By integrating the Franke A1000’s flavour station with an under-counter refrigerator to offer both hot and cold specialty coffees, c-stores can get in on the rising trend for cold brew coffee beverages,” says Judi Saliba, senior sales executive at TFI Food Equipment Solutions Inc.
When it comes to food equipment offerings Brett Nestman, marketing manager at DSL Food Service Solutions, explains how finding the right product is vital. “Today’s c-store customer expects more from their food in terms of quality and nutrition. A simple way to meet that expectation is to offer more fresh, high-quality, made to order products. Combi ovens can effectively replace a grill, convection oven and steamer.” Products such as Henny Penny’s Flexfusion Space$aver Team Combi feature an integrated hood, and two independent cooking environments all within a narrow 22-inch footprint saving space and money.
Products utilizing infrared (IR) heat technology, such as Hatco’s Glo-Ray line, continue to diversify and include products from overhead heat strips to closed or open-air cabinets with heated bases.
Electric IR emitters use reflector-type incandescent lamps to produce radiant heat through electromagnetic waves. This efficient non-chemical process penetrates the food products’ surface to maintain optimal internal temperatures, providing a much more reliable and effective heat source.
Hatco’s patented Flav-R-Savor Heated Air Curtain Cabinet has been very popular in the convenience store market. “With our air curtain technology, there is no aggressive infrared radiant heat, just a warm blanket of air circulating the cabinet. Not only does the cabinet keep packaged foods safer for longer periods without the use of doors, but it also allows customers immediate access to the product. By simply eliminating the doors on the front of the cabinet, owner/operators can see an increase of 20 to 30 per cent in sales,” shares Brad Stoeckel, sales manager at Hatco Corporation.
UV-C light is a form of ultraviolet light technology with a short wavelength and numerous potential advantages. New light-emitting diodes or LEDs able to emit beneficial UV-C light are the latest in LED technology, and their first applications for use in food services will likely debut this year.
The possible advantages of UV-C light technology in this sector are far reaching. Short wavelengths of UV-C light have a proven germicidal effect on bacteria, viruses and fungi. Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada’s (AAFC) research indicates UV-C light could help eradicate food pathogens like viruses, bacteria and fungi that can cause food poisoning and illness. It also can safely lengthen food storage time, decrease product loss and assist in other sanitization applications.
As technological advances in the foodservice industry continue to develop and expand in scope, they have the potential to alter the sector and how consumers interact with it dramatically.
Tania Moffat is a freelance writer, editor, publisher and photographer. She has worked in the pub-lishing industry for the last 16 years on a wide variety of B2B and consumer publications, both in print and online. You can connect with her at firstname.lastname@example.org.