The Need For Speed, Portability and Compactness

Catch a peek of cutting-edge foodservice equipment from The NAFEM Show 2013

ORLANDO, FLA. -- There’s good news for convenience store operators on the new-product innovation front relating to foodservice equipment: Manufacturers are tailoring some of their newest releases to fit the needs of the channel.
Charlie Souhrada, director of member services for the Chicago-based North American Association of Food Equipment Manufacturers (NAFEM), told Convenience Store Products that the trend is on equipment that’s “efficient, fast, easy to understand and use, and smaller.”

New products were showcased this February at the 500-exhibitor NAFEM trade show in Orlando, Fla. Some of the most noteworthy trends:

  • Reduced footprint. If an item isn’t being used, wouldn’t it be nice if it could collapse easily and be stored until next time? Compactness will be prevalent in 2013.
  • Multifunctional equipment. Whether it’s handling multiple menu items or day-parts, all equipment should offer some sort of versatility, Souhrada said.
  • Technology. Some new equipment models now use a QR Code that, when scanned, takes the operator directly to the manual online. Souhrada is also seeing ports for USB drives that allow operators to download menu items and instructions right to the equipment. “That’s exciting because it helps operators provide more of a consistent product whether it’s prepared on one side of the country or the other,” he said.
  • Labor savings. Sensitive to high employee turnover, manufacturers are making it easy for operators to train new staffers quickly with user-friendly equipment.
  • Simplicity. One button to turn the equipment on, and that’s it. “It sounds funny, but it’s influenced by Apple products. If you want to operate your iPad or iPod, there are only a couple things you need to know to make the equipment run. People are expecting equipment to be that simple and easy to use,” Souhrada said.
  • Energy efficiency. Energy efficiency translates to real cash savings.

Following are just a few of the innovations from the What’s Hot, What’s Cool showcase of innovative new products at The NAFEM Show that tap into these technological trends:

Toasting, finishing and smoking combination oven 

After introducing the 4.10 ESi CT Express Combitherm combination oven in May 2012, Alto-Shaam Inc. added the features of an integrated catalytic converter, a toasting/finishing element and smoking abilities. Requiring less than two feet of counter space, the CT Express has the versatility to be placed in areas without a hood, and can be used as a finishing oven to quickly and efficiently toast sandwiches, breads and desserts.

Touchscreen airpot coffee brewer

The CBS-2131/2132 touchscreen series Airpot Coffee Brewer from Fetco Corp. supports high-volume self-service environments. The brewing system features a touchscreen interface display that’s intuitive, easy to read and simple to navigate. Operators can access all controls from a digital display that blends intuitive icons with dynamic time and volume data for instant visual feedback during the brew cycle.

Digital roller grill

The X*Pert series roller grills from APW Wyott feature a digital control that automatically cycles through preheat, cook and hold modes. It has easy to read, bright LEDs that signal the operator when the product is ready to serve. A large digital display shows estimated temperature of product while the roller grill is in hold mode.

Energy-efficient ice-cube machine

The Energy Star rated Q-130/170 ice-cube machines from Manitowoc Ice Inc. are under-counter models that feature an ergonomic angled bin door for easy access to the ice without the need to bend over. The models can produce from 135 to 175 pounds of ice daily, and measure only 26 inches wide by 26.5 inches deep and 38.5 inches high.

Multifunctional kettle

Operators can cook, prepare, warm, retherm and hold soup, stew or chili in the Glenray Premium kettle from Tomlinson Industries. The 10.5-quart, 800-watt electrical kettle has an adjustable temperature control with settings up to 205°F, and improved interior insulation to help maintain product temperatures, and cooler exterior surfaces. The kettle will rethermalize refrigerated product to 160°F in approximately 42 minutes, and is shipped with a stainless-steel food insert, hinged lid, ladle and 24 product cards with a black or stainless-steel finish.

Mobile coffee kiosk

Multiteria USA LLC’s compact, portable coffee retail kiosk feature an unlimited variety of exterior finishes to create unique, one-of-a-kind retail environments. Operators can use high-resolution vinyl graphic images that are directly applied to the counter body. The vinyl image can easily be removed and replaced when a new concept trend is introduced or the theme of the kiosk needs to be refreshed and upgraded over time without significant equipment modification. 

High-efficiency fryer

The Ultrafryer model RS1 from Ultrafryer Systems offers operators thee ability to increase product while using less shortening and energy. According to the company, a battery of two RS1 fryers can increase production by up to 10%, use up to 15% less shortening and provide 220,000 BTUs per hour versus 270,000 to 360,000 BTUs per hour vs. a traditional three-vat frying system.

To check out more cool and hot products from the 2013 NAFEM Show, visit