FEA Profile

Wednesday, 02 December 2020

FEA (the Foodservice Equipment Association) is the independent, authoritative voice of the catering equipment industry in the UK. It represents the sector at government level on policy and technical matters, as well as dealing with operational requirements for manufacturers, importers and service companies.

In these challenging times, FEA has led the industry in calling for support for foodservice equipment supply chain companies, most of whom are 100% dependent on the hospitality industry. What’s happening in the foodservice equipment market right now? Here are a few key points from the Association’s chief executive, Keith Warren:

Adaptability

The need to respond more quickly to customer needs is key, whatever the business and wherever it operates in the catering equipment supply chain. Those who add value and make themselves part of the value chain, will see the current difficult market challenges through and, ultimately, thrive.

Connectivity/Digitalisation

For the foodservice operator, connectivity brings operational benefits and cost savings. It gives access to real-time information; it records, manages and analyses data; it can evaluate operational procedures and offer suggestions to improve efficiency; and it issues alerts to, for example, service personnel, should anything be amiss. Reducing running costs and improving operational efficiency are key to survival in the current pandemic.

Circular Economy

11 of the 17 sustainable development goals written into UK law on the circular economy affect foodservice and foodservice equipment. Major changes at all levels will be required if we are to achieve the objectives. For example, FEA is campaigning for energy efficient equipment (see below).

Also critical is the UK government’s Environment Bill, which will be going through Parliament over the next 12 months. FEA is campaigning on behalf of the industry and has published its food and FOG (fats, oil and grease) waste hierarchy to help understanding and policy making.

Net Zero Carbon

Sustainability has been a focus of FEA for many years. We are lobbying the government to initiate a radical plan designed to support the foodservice industry while pushing the net zero carbon agenda, by encouraging the development and sale of more energy efficient equipment. We published the proposal in our ‘Net Zero Carbon: A Five Point Plan for Foodservice Equipment’.

The five points are:

  • tax credits for manufacturers, which would be based on the number of energy efficient models sold
  • a Net Zero equipment recycling scheme, to encourage operators to replace old appliances with new, energy efficient versions;
  • fostering consultant and specifier engagement, by ensuring equipment qualifies for BREEAM and LEED certification points
  • incentivising dealers and resellers by paying them extra commission when they sell energy efficient equipment
  • the development of a new version of the Energy Technology List (ETL), along with associated regulations.

Training and Education

Businesses need well trained and qualified staff to achieve success. In the current highly disruptive environment, FEA is still investing in training initiatives, at all levels, to meet the challenges – witness the CFSP and PFS programmes. Investment in staff needs to be high on every employer’s agenda.

Market restructuring

Even before the pandemic, there had been substantial growth in the takeaway and home delivery market, accompanied by an expansion in ‘dark kitchens’. The various lockdowns have increased the demand considerably, with many operators switching their offering to takeaway. Catering operations in care homes and garden centres have also seen significant funding.

It is estimated that around one third of foodservice operators will not reopen. The distributor and equipment supply sector is likely to contract as it readjusts to the new volumes. There will be an increase in the availability of second hand equipment, with a consequent increase in service requirement.

Operators looking to invest in new equipment are increasingly likely to consider alternative finance arrangements, such as leasing. This removes the requirement for capital investment, as it can give greater flexibility and improve cash flow.

The Foodservice Equipment Association (FEA) is the independent, authoritative voice of the foodservice equipment industry, representing nearly 200 companies who supply, service and maintain all types of commercial catering equipment - from utensils to full kitchen schemes. For more information on FEA visit www.fea.org.uk