Expert Interview – Sustainable Style

 On a recent trip to New York, I visited PacknWood’s loft showroom in midtown Manhattan. Over coffee, the company’s Founder and CEO Adam Merran explained the company’s product line and commitment to sustainability. 

LC: What makes PacknWood different from the many other manufacturers of foodservice packaging and catering supplies?

AM: We create innovative, high-quality and eco-friendly packaging solutions using many unique materials for all kinds of food applications. We currently have the largest eco-friendly line in the market, launching 80-100 new products a year. That really keeps things exciting for all our customers.

LC: Looking around, I see you do have many product lines which are made from a variety of raw materials.

AM: The natural look of the material is very important. The features, being sustainable and practical, are also important. For example, bamboo is the fastest growing plant on the planet. Our bamboo leaf plates are beautiful with a two-sided design. They have an exotic look. Each plate looks different. The material can hold many types of food for long periods​ of time without losing strength.

Bamboo leaf plate

AM: We also make products from other renewable and compostable materials such as sugarcane pulp, palm leaves, starch, wood, and paperboard. Other items are made with recycled and recyclable plastics.

LC: How do you stay ahead of the marketplace in terms of innovations?

AM: We stay on top of the trends and we anticipate them. PacknWood launched paper straws 8 years ago. We now see the market is ready for them. We happen to have 50 different designs ​available. We also just launched a hard bamboo straw.

AM: I am a foodie and pay attention to foodservice concepts. One of the big trends I noticed 4 or 5 years ago was the popularity of food trucks. So, we developed a product line called Street Eats which is perfect for all kinds of portable food items.

Grab and go

AM: We also import trends from Europe such as our VIP sets. Catering companies often cater in bulk with large catering trays, we decided to offer an alternative with upscale, single-​serving containers.

VIP set.jpeg

LC: How do you make sure your products continue to meet the needs of your customers?

AM: We try to create excitement by continuously launching new products and applications. PacknWood exhibits in at least 10 national trade shows every year and we keep ​in close contact with our end-users to understand what they need. ​This is what drives the product launches and, to be honest, that is what I am passionate about personally. For example, we noticed catering companies were drilling holes in wood planks to hold our skewers. We decided to create a solid ready-to-use skewer stand using beautiful bamboo. Our stadium customers were using plain picks to serve food so we developed a line of sports-themed bamboo picks, which enhanced their guests’ experience.

Sport skewer

LC: Sustainability is obviously a big part of your business model. Tell me about why that is important to you.

AM: It is key to me as I believe we need to be more sustainable every day. I attempt to certify as many of our items as possible. We select renewable or recyclable materials throughout all our new product launches. Two years ago we took the initiative to neutralize our company’s carbon emissions. We are sponsoring projects around the world that offset our emissions. We are looking at going further by becoming a B Corporation.

LC: Tell me more about the B Corporation program.

AM: It is a third-party standard requiring companies to meet social sustainability and environmental performance standards. The certification applies to the whole company across all product lines and issue areas.

LC: What are some challenges that foodservice operators have today and how do your products address those challenges?

AM: Very often, the challenge for an operator is to become a more sustainable business. It can be difficult to fit that goal into their budget. We offer many green alternatives at different prices. What we do is offer a solution that will enhance their food presentation and enhance their brand. That investment makes​ it possible for them to obtain a higher selling price for their menu items, a triple win.

LC: Thank you for inviting me to visit you today and learn more about PacknWood!

AM: It was my pleasure!

For more information about PacknWood’s product offering visit www.packnwood.com or ask your Imperial Dade representative.

 

Expert Interview – Warewashing, More than just Washing Dishes

An effective warewashing program can ensure kitchenware cleanliness, enhance guest satisfaction, and save money. For this edition of The Expert Interview, I spoke to my colleague Angel Rodriguez. As a Chemical Sales Manager at Imperial Dade, Angel oversees the Environmental Service Program in the Tri-State region. With over 16 years of experience in the industry, Angel has a wealth of knowledge on the topic.

LC: What exactly is warewashing?

AR: Warewashing is the term associated with cleaning and sanitizing any kitchenware used in the preparation, serving, or storing of food. This would include pots and pans, cutlery, glasses, serving pans, and trays. Warewashing can be done by machine or manually. This process is a key factor in ensuring that a commercial kitchen provides a clean and safe dining experience for their customers.

LC: You mentioned cleaning and sanitizing. Can you explain the difference?

AR: Great question! Cleaning removes food and other debris from the surface of an item, such as a plate. Sanitizing is the next step. Sanitizing kills the microorganisms and germs on the cleaned surface, making it safe for food contact.

LC: I think we all have an understanding of manual warewashing. It’s what we do at home, correct?

AR: Yes, but in a commercial environment there are specific steps and regulations. At home you may wash a plate with retail detergent, dry it, and put it away. In a restaurant you must wash the plate with a commercial-grade detergent, rinse, and then sanitize in water that contains 200 parts per million of sanitizer. That last step is the one that causes the most challenges. For example, if the water is too hot, the sanitizer will not be maintained at the appropriate level.

LC: And if that happens, is the sanitizing step compromised?

AR: Yes, and if a health inspector performs a test, it will result in a violation. It is really important to have a proper 3-compartment sink system, use the correct products and follow procedures.

LC: Does using a dish machine make the process easier for the operator?

AR: Commercial dish machines require less labor and, especially in large establishments, are much more efficient than manual washing. But there are still procedures and maintenance that need to be performed.

AR: First, the operator must consider the best type of machine. There are many sizes and configuration ranging from a small under-counter model, which would be appropriate in a bar area or small café, to a large conveyor model used in a hotel. These machines operate at high or low temperatures. Low temperature machines are less expensive and more energy efficient, but require more chemicals. There are trade-offs that need to be analyzed.  Every situation is unique. This is why it is important for operators to work with an experienced supplier, one that will take the time to determine the best system for their needs.

LC: Okay, once the correct equipment is chosen and installed, what are the steps to make sure the program runs smoothly.

AR: Scheduled preventative maintenance is crucial. A technician will change chemical lines, squeeze tubes, and dilution tips to make sure that the proper amount of detergent and chemicals are being used by the machine. These items can wear out, and if neglected can shut down the system. This can cause a major halt to a kitchen while waiting for an emergency service call.

AR: Using the right detergents and chemicals for the machine type is another important factor. The warewashing system components operate together so substituting or leaving out products will cause problems and can result in health code violations.

LC: Sounds like there is a lot more to a warewashing program than simply washing dishes.

AR: It is a very important process, however when set up and maintained correctly, it will free up kitchen staff and managers to focus on their menu and their guests’ satisfaction.

LC: Thanks, Angel!

Angel Rodriguez, as well as Imperial Dade’s team of Chemical Managers, are available to consult with foodservice operators on warewashing systems. Angel can be reached at arodriguez@imperialdade.com.