March 31, 2023

Strategic alliance between Italy and USA

From the recovery of the Ho.Re.Ca sector to the export of food equipment

The export of food equipment, the heart of HostMilano, represents an important sector from Europe to North America, as evidenced by the data of ExportPlanning.

Reliability and service seem to be the key words identified by HostMilano, that – thanks to its experience in the segment – provides a precise picture on the current dynamics of the Ho.Re.Ca sector and its evolution, in particular with a focus on the USA, one of the fundamental countries for the international growth of HostMilano.

The recovery of the out-of-home market in the USA The USA is one of the main protagonists of the global foodservice market: according to Statista, quick service restaurants (or QSRs), which have increased in number by over 50% since 2007, recorded an all-time high in 2020 with revenues of around 283 billion dollars. Also catering activities where table service is included recorded a similar growth and reached a total of over 80 billion dollars in 2020. The US is currently experiencing a strong return of demand in restaurants: in most cities the numbers are exceeding by far the pre-pandemic figures of 2019, both in total number of guests and in the average check spend. This, coupled with a severe shortage of skilled and even unskilled labor, is why we are seeing a mind shift in the sector: entrepreneurs are therefore ready to invest in technologies in order to reduce labor costs and/or to increase quality, productivity and save on energy consumption. The solutions adopted thus aim to speed up production, such as machines to stretch the pizza dough in less than a minute. As for the return of the out-of-home, we are living a boom in outdoor lunches and dinners, also thanks to the summer season. Many of the street and public space concessions to restaurants have been extended throughout the United States. And there is also growing attention to new furniture and high-end miseen place with Italian design.

Food equipment: the role of Italian technology as a key to success

The top players in the catering industry in the USA and Canada ask European companies for support throughout the product life cycle. It is no longer enough to buy a good product and have a good installation, but it is also necessary to receive aftersales support and assistance. The shortage of qualified personnel pushes operators to seek intelligent solutions and continuous training. Inflation weighs on operating costs – labor, utilities and raw materials – plus the reduction of these items and the return on
investment, play a fundamental role in the selection of the equipment: it must offer ease of use, be networked and also managed remotely. The real plus is taking advantage of systems that can easily adapt to flexible menus.

Made in Italy equipment has always been considered synonymous with reliability and excellent quality/price ratio, but it is also recognized for innovative content, both for functionality and for facilitating cleaning and sanitizing operations. The availability of stock of machines and spare parts, the readiness in the delivery and after-sales service are the keys to enter the North American market in a solid and continuous way and to create business in this sector. Which are the most requested machines and equipment? There’s a link to the success of Italian food: from pasta to traditional pizza, from espresso to the world of ice cream. And now also gourmet pizza, niche sausages and fresh pasta.

Equipment that may conquer the USA includes electric ovens for cooking pizza, kneading machines, stretching pizza machines, machines for fresh pasta and vertical slicers. Reliable products and above all with the certifications required in the American States. The machine for making fresh pasta and stuffed pasta, for example, is an article that continues to achieve considerable success, thanks to the spread of Italian restaurants and the presence of many Italian chefs.

Coffee in the USA between specialty and automation
The interest for Specialty Coffee is increasingly rooted and the search for a quality coffee is no longer the prerogative of bars or cafes, but it extends also to large chains, in the offices, in co-working spaces, in sport, health and wellness facilities, in boutiques and in the world of take-away. Coffee has become ubiquitous and there is an increased interest in super automatics: the improved technology in these machines makes work for the user easier, from coffee extraction to milk frothing, simultaneously assuring a high quality regardless of where the coffee is being brewed and by whom. This aspect is important
because in many situations there is a constant turnover of users. Plus, thanks to the Internet of Things connectivity and the Wi-Fi connection, the machine communicates and allows to remotely monitor all functionalities. Some Italian companies have in fact developed ad hoc machines for the North American market, such as a super automatic with Bluetooth connectivity and a myriad of features that allow consumers to have a customized coffee according to their tastes and coffee beans are always freshly
ground to ensure maximum quality in the cup. Plus, these machines can serve both hot and cold drinks in different quantities without losing the barista dexterity. Great success also for double-boiler machines, that allow thermal stability over a long period, thus a high-quality coffee and a good performance of the steam boiler, which the Americans use a lot to froth various types of milk. The appeal of these technologies in the preparation of coffee and all drinks based on coffee and milk, is widespread and they are gradually adopted in bars, restaurants and even in convenience stores. As for the return of out-of-home market, it must be said that although Covid has had an impact on how and where people consume food and drink, the demand for coffee prepared by professionals remains high, as it is almost impossible to recreate this experience at home. The trend for the summer sees new menus with drinks based on iced coffee or tea, with the addition of a variety of sweet and tropical ingredients. These tasty, refreshing and fun seasonal drinks are exactly what most consumers are looking for at the moment.

HostMilano is getting ready for the next appointment at Fieramilano from 13th to 17th October 2023. The 43rd edition will showcase all Ho.Re.Ca supply chains: Foodservice Equipment, Bakery, Pizza, Pasta, Coffee, Tea, Bars, Coffee Machines, Vending, Gelato, Pastry, Furniture, Tableware.

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