Catering & Hospitality - Other

Buying catering equipment won’t always be this stressful

Catering equipment becoming more expensive to make

May 2022

Catering & Hospitality - Other

Buying catering equipment won’t always be this stressful

Catering equipment becoming more expensive to make

May 2022

Operators need to accept that foodservice equipment prices will continue to rise for the foreseeable future and that new equipment will take longer to arrive.

That’s the stark warning laid down by the Foodservice Equipment Association, which stressed that the commercial kitchen supply chain is not immune from the pressures being felt in the wider economy.

It reinforced what many buyers in the market have already come to know: commercial kitchen equipment makers are being squeezed from all directions by the supply chain pressures being felt throughout the global economy.

With stainless steel prices continuing to soar – by more than a third in some cases – catering equipment is becoming more expensive to make.

Keith Warren, chief executive of the FEA, said: “Recent media coverage of the dramatic rise in the price for nickel has underlined the problems. Stainless steel prices had already risen by between 17% and 33% recently.

“The price is going to rise further with the dramatic increases in the cost of the alloys used in stainless steel for foodservice appliances, such as nickel and molybdenum.”

Mr. Warren said the cost of nickel rose from $25,000 (£19,000) a ton to $100,000 (£76,000) a ton in just two days, while energy and employment costs are also hitting suppliers are hard.

While there is some good news in that the availability of components is more stable than it was last year, they are still on extended order times.

“Sadly, these are global issues – there is nowhere else to go to get equipment,” he said.

There has also been a power shift: manufacturers say it is not uncommon for components providers to insist on non-refundable, non-cancellable terms. So, when they place an order that they are told will be ready within a week there is nothing they can do when it is immediately changed to three months.

Getting hold of electronic components such as microprocessors has been a real problem given their use in most modern catering appliances, especially on the cooking side.

Rational revealed this week that it has just taken stock of chips from an alternative supplier which will ease some of the delays it has faced. The company has nearly £230m worth of global orders on back order so catching up won’t happen overnight.


Other well-known brands are quoting lead times more than 12 weeks for equipment that used to always be immediately available. For certain products the wait time is even longer as factories encounter the sort of volatility that makes forecasting almost impossible

Even brands that built their offer on having a significant volume of inventory in stock have had to tell customers that there is no option but to place their order and join the queue.

Speaking with suppliers at last week’s HRC show, there was a consensus that the situation with finished goods availability has improved compared with where it was last year, but anecdotal evidence suggests the turbulence is a long way from being over yet. The situation in Ukraine and Covid lockdowns in China is certainly making manufacturers feel nervous.

This all-leaves operators that are trying to upgrade their kitchens in a tricky position, although the FEA’s chief executive Keith Warren is adamant that the worst thing buyers can do right now is purchase equipment that’s not up to spec simply because it’s available.

Mr. Warren suggested the worst thing that operators could do, however, was purchase equipment that’s not up to spec simply because it’s available.

“It won’t meet the need, and, in a short time, it’ll need replacing,” he said. “Worst case scenario, an under-specked appliance could compromise safety of staff and customers.”

The FEA is advising operators that it is more imperative than ever that new equipment orders are placed as quickly as possible, and that existing equipment is properly maintained to maximize its service life and ensure it is running as efficiently as possible.

Other than that, keep the faith. The process of buying catering equipment won’t always be this stressful.

“The rising price of raw materials is a very serious concern to FEA members,” said FEA chair Steve Hobbs. “The continuing supply chain problems are having huge effects on the world’s economy, and it is very likely that this trend will have serious implications for the foodservice equipment industry throughout 2022 and beyond.”

Despite these challenges, the strong recovery and the high levels of confidence shown by companies in their ability to continue and sustain growth indicate that the foodservice equipment sector is in a good position to maintain its position in the economy.

Nearly half of companies surveyed said that sales have returned to pre-pandemic levels. And 90% predicted sales will have fully recovered to 2019 levels within the next 18 months.

“The last few years haven’t been easy, and it doesn’t look like the fundamental issues the industry is facing will be going away any time soon,” added Mr Hobbs. “However, there are definitely hopeful signs, and the confidence many FEA members are demonstrating in their future potential is a big one.”