Food to go is sweeping c-stores across the UK and Steve Appolinari of Fife Creamery says retailers shouldn’t be afraid to take the plunge.
A lot of words have been written about food to go in recent years – from trade journalists, research companies, producers and industry specialists.
But while many have been shouting about the category’s potential to transform Scottish c-stores, it’s clear that a lot of retailers continue to have cold feet about making the investment.
While some trepidation is understandable, Steve Appolinari of chilled foods and food-to-go specialist Fife Creamery, said he believed retailers were not doing themselves or their businesses any favours, in the long run, by holding back.
“I can compare the current situation very much to the 1990s, when the convenience sector in Scotland woke up to the importance of chilled food. There was an awful lot of talk about it and an awful lot written about it, but not many people made the investment,” he said.
“The retailers that grabbed the opportunity and ran with it transformed their businesses. They made an effort, they made a statement and with it, they brought in new business. That’s where I think we are right now with food to go in Scotland.
“Some people are naturally slower, they’ve heard about it, they think it sounds good, but they need a bit of time to warm up. Then there are the individuals who are not just grasping it, but going to visit others. I’ve always professed that’s something that not enough retailers do. If they do go and see how other individuals are setting up food to go and making it work for their particular establishments, they can learn so much.”
Providing everything a retailer would need in terms of foodstuff, packaging and guidance on food safety (plus counters and equipment referrals) Fife Creamery has a wealth of knowledge to offer from its decades working in the foodservice sector that it is keen to share with retailers.
The firm is currently putting together a portfolio of step-by-step guides for retailers, covering all aspects of food to go and how to make it work.
Plans are also in place to have a new training suite available to potential customers in summer, to illustrate the full range of what is available.
“We understand some people will not want to go to the lengths of erecting counters and having staff serving,” said Steve.
“We have other solutions available that do require prep work, but the finished products can be put out on upright chillers. We provide conceptual products like packaged soup you just have to heat up and all the elements to put together top quality, fresh sandwiches, salads and baguettes.
“It’s not difficult to serve soup. It’s not tough to make a sandwich. But these small changes make the product more inviting to your customers and you make more profit.
“We have a vision that’s pretty clear. If someone’s serious about food to go and they see the way convenience retailing is going, they need to make changes.”