Back to Business Insight Reopening and Next Steps

Local Heroes

Strategist advisor & futurist Simon Stenning says consumers will have high expectations over the standards employed to keep them safe, and operators will need to build the levels of trustthat consumers have in them.

“We expect that many of the local, community-focused businesses that traded through the lockdown supporting their neighbourhoods will benefit in the long-term from some of the trust that has been built up, but especially if more people stay closer to home,” he says.

The importance of trust will also cover products and a recent Kantar survey suggests that trusted brands are expected to provide safety and security in testing times. Back in February2020, MCA’s Foodservice Conference predicted a movement for consumers to back products made in the UK. “Consumers won’t stop being curious, but there may be better champions of all things British.” This is likely to be even more critical now with an increased focus being placed on supporting the British economy.

Next steps and solutions

As a result of this uncharted environment, operators will seek out products that provide their customers with the safest, most hygienic solutions with competitive aesthetics.

With a proven track record in providing quality products of the highest standard, Steelite International has outlined key tableware considerations to assist with the reopening of food outlets and hotels during and post Covid-19.

“Companies that have been producing chinaware for all these years should be the natural choice, with a proven track record in providing quality products of the highest standard.”

John Miles, President and CEO Steelite International

Disposables or reusables?

First instincts may lead you to believe that purchasing disposable tableware and cutlery is the safest option during Covid-19 but clearing tableware after each course and washing using a commercial grade dishwasher is standard practice.

Continuing this behaviour is paramount because the measure gives businesses complete control of tableware handling, something that is not possible with disposable items. There are both environmental and business reasons for using your own tableware, cutlery and glassware, since there is no need to purchase additional costly throw-away items.

Customers expect good, memorable and safe dining experiences and quality and hygienic reusable tableware plays a huge part in this.

“The guest experience is enhanced through a beautiful looking plate or bowl, allowing delicious food to be presented in a visually attractive manner. From a hygienic perspective, vitrified products produced in the UK to the highest standards not only look great but don’t stain or absorb bacteria leaving no residual traces of food after cleaning. These features offer peace of mind and reassurance for food businesses and guests alike.” David Mulcahy, Culinary Director at Sodexo as part of the #DineSafe campaign.

Simon Hulstone, chef-proprietor of The Elephant, Torquay, says he used plastic containers over lockdown. “I’m disgusted at how much we got through,” he says. “You end up with wastage, too, as you are left with more than you needed. And what you do use, you know is going into landfill, not to mention the costs incurred in throwing it away.”

Hulstone adds that disposable tableware puts consumers in a “takeaway” mindset. “It seems very rushed. And much like when drinking out of a plastic bottle, the taste is never as nice. Reusable quality tableware is fine dining – it is eating in a restaurant and enjoying or looking forward to a special experience.

There’s something special about the ‘knife and fork across a plate’ sound that adds to the satisfaction.”

In terms of hygiene, Hulstone says it is important to make sure that tableware is sterilised properly and he advises using the correct temperature on a washing machine as well as ensuring operators can use dishwasher-safe crockery.