How to Choose the Right Commercial Dish Machine for Your Business

Commercial dish machines are a great alternative to manually washing and sanitizing the wares your facility uses. Read this article to learn about the different types of commercial dish machines and how to choose the best one for your facility.

If one thing is guaranteed to make customers unhappy, it is being given dirty wares like spotty glasses, smudged silverware, and unclean plates during their dining experience. 

Whether you own a small business, run a restaurant, manage a cafeteria, or any other foodservice establishment, providing your customers with spotless wares is key to keeping guests satisfied. 

Unfortunately, this can be challenging especially if your facility still manually cleans wares after use or doesn’t have the best commercial dishwasher for your needs. 

Without the right commercial dish machine, you run the risk of having to deal with customer complaints and more time-consuming cleaning processes.

Commercial kitchens are busy with staff constantly moving around to prepare and serve food that is satisfactory to your customers. 

Adding the right commercial dish machine to your kitchen can help boost your staff productivity without sacrificing cleanliness. 

A commercial dish machine replaces manual dishwashing and sanitizing dirty dishes, pots, pans, and glassware in your facility.

There are many different types of commercial dish machines, which can make it difficult to find the right one for your business. The best dish machine for your facility will depend on the specific needs of your establishment. The goal is to find the best machine and ensure you’re getting spotless wares in one wash cycle.

You’ll also want to be sure that you choose a dish machine that can handle the volume of dishes produced by your commercial kitchen and that the dishwasher is capable of cleaning the various types of wares your patrons use in your facility.

In this article, we will review the different types of commercial dish machines and the available features to help you choose the best option for your facility.

How Does A Dish Machine Work?

You may think this is a silly question and that all dish machines work the same. In short, all dish machines use dish detergent to wash, sanitize, and dry the dishes used in your commercial kitchen.

However, there are two major types of commercial dish machines:

  • High Temp Dish Machines
  • Low Temp Dish Machines

Low and high temp dish machines perform differently. The temperature of the machine determines how much dish detergent is needed and affects how your wares are sanitized. Some commercial dish machines will also require external equipment to maintain the temperatures needed to complete the wash cycles.

High Temp Dish Machines Vs Low Temp Dish Machines 

High Temp Dish Machines

A high temp commercial dish machine washes dishes at 140-160+ °F and rinses them at 180-195 °F. 

The temperature of the superheated water allows for the dish cycle to sanitize the wares without using a chemical dish sanitizer and achieve faster drying times.

High temp dish machines can also clean visibly soiled dishes that are coated in fat, grease, and tough soils. This means that though your dishes should always be rinsed before being loaded into the dish machine, the high heat can tackle any leftover soils on your wares.

One thing to note about high temp dish machines is that most of them require both an external booster heater to maintain the heated water temperatures and a condensate hood.

The booster heater helps ensure the machine maintains its high temperatures. 

A condensate hood is used to capture heat or condensate from non-grease producing appliances, like a dish machine.

Some dish machines can be ventless, which uses an internal vent system to eliminate the need for a condensate hood. These ventless machines can also reduce the amount your business spends on energy expenses.

Low Temp Dish Machines

A low-temp dish machine washes and sanitizes dishes at a temperature of 120-140 °F degrees. 

Since these machines don’t use high temperatures, a chemical sanitizer is needed to sanitize and kill germs on the dishes.

Before dishes are loaded into the dish machine, they should be thoroughly scrubbed and pre-rinsed. A low temp dish machine isn’t able to handle grease on dishes, so your staff should be extra careful to remove any and all visible soil. 

It’s also important to note that low-temp machines generally take longer to clean dishes. 

The lower temperature machines don’t require a booster heater or a condensate hood.

What to Consider When Choosing a Dish Machine

There are three main features you should consider when determining whether a dish machine will be right for your kitchen:

  • High Temp Vs Low Temp Dish Machine 
  • Dishwasher Footprint
  • Cleaning Capacity

High Temp Vs Low Temp Dish Machine

How to Choose Between a High Temp and Low Temp Dish Machine

When deciding between a high temp and a low temp commercial dish machine, you will need to consider what kind of food your facility serves. 

High temp machines are better for establishments that have greasier foods, like barbeque, while low temp machines can clean non-greasy soils like salads or pasta.

You will also need to consider the electrical capabilities of your building. High temp dish machines require higher voltage outlets, so if you have concerns about your facility’s energy usage a low temp machine will probably be best.

Dishwasher Footprint

The footprint of your dishwashing machine is simply the amount of space that the equipment takes up in your facility. 

If you have a commercial dish machine that is both vertically and horizontally large, it will require a lot of space and affect the way your staff moves in your kitchen.

Commercial kitchens with ample space, like a cafeteria, hospital, or other high-volume facilities can use a machine with a large footprint. 

In larger foodservice facilities, you can benefit from a dish machine that is built for efficient ware washing in a busy facility. These machines, called conveyor dish machines, are large but have faster cycle times than smaller commercial dish machines.

If you don’t have a lot of space in your commercial kitchen, you will likely have to settle for a smaller dish machine that’s able to clean and sanitize your dishes quickly. Undercounter dish machines can be tucked away beneath counters to make the most of the space you have available in your kitchen.

Cleaning Capacity

Another feature you should consider when trying to find the right dish machine for your facility is the cleaning capacity.

There are a variety of different sized dish machines that can be used to clean soiled dishes in your kitchen.

Some dish machines are capable of cleaning a high number of dishes throughout the day while others may be smaller and clean fewer dish racks.

In a commercial foodservice facility, you will want a dish machine that makes it easy to quickly turn around dishes and wares for use.

For smaller facilities, like a cafe or a compact commercial kitchen, you’ll likely benefit from a machine that can clean up to 35 racks an hour. Larger commercial kitchens, like cafeterias or banquet halls, will likely need a dish machine that can process more than 150 racks an hour.

Types Of Dish Machines

Dish machines come in various types, sizes, temperatures, and operations for cleaning the dishes in your facility.

Each type of commercial dish machine comes in either high or low temp, depending on the specific make and model of the machine you’re looking at.

Below, we’ll cover the four most popular types of commercial dish machines that you can use in your facility:

  • Under Counter Dish Machine
  • Upright Dish Machine
  • Conveyor Dish Machine
  • Glassware Dish Machine

Under Counter Dish Machine

An under-counter dish machine is the most compact type of dish machine. 

Dishwasher Footprint

Undercounter dish machines are about the same size as a household dishwasher but they have a quicker cleaning cycle.

The small size of the machine allows it to sit either in the Back Of House (BOH) or in the Front Of House (FOH). The compact dishwasher can be tucked under a counter in your facility.

In facilities that don’t have a lot of space, an under-counter dish machine may be the best option.

Cleaning Capacity

An under-counter commercial dishwashing machine can clean about 20-30 racks per hour.

These dish machines are a great choice for small restaurants, hotels, or in foodservice businesses where the commercial kitchen is cleaned as you go. 

Upright Dish Machine

An upright type dish machine is a larger commercial dish machine that can clean a larger number of racks in an hour.

This type of dish machine is perfect for facilities with large dishware. For a restaurant or foodservice business that produces a lot of kitchenware, like pots, pans, and baking ware, you will benefit from having an upright dish machine.

Dishwasher Footprint

An upright dish machine will take up more vertical space than an under-counter dishwasher. 

This allows your staff to stack pots and pans in the dish machine. 

The vertical footprint also allows the machines to sit out of the way in the back of the house. They are designed to sit out of the way of traffic in your commercial kitchen.

Cleaning Capacity

Upright dish machines can clean between 35 and 60 dish racks each hour.

These machines are perfect for medium-sized food service facilities, like diners.

Conveyor Dish Machine

A conveyor dish machine is the largest type of dish machine and cleans dishes the fastest.

Kitchens that need to turn over a lot of tableware during operating hours and have plenty of space can benefit from using this high-capacity, heavy-duty machine. 

Dishwasher Footprint

Not only are these machines large vertically, but they also require a lot of horizontal space.

A conveyor dish machine has a loading area, where your staff places the dish rack to fill the basket with dirty dishes. Then, the rack is pulled into the wash/rinse tank for the cleaning cycle to begin. Once completed, the dishes are then moved into the unloading area for your staff to remove the clean dishes for use.

A conveyor dish machine is a perfect choice for a commercial kitchen that has a lot of space and requires quick turn around times for dishes. 

Cleaning Capacity

These conveyor dish machines can clean 150-200 dish racks an hour.

Commercial conveyor dish machines are perfect for large, busy facilities, like cafeterias, hospitals, and other high-volume businesses.

Glassware Dish Machine

Businesses, like busy bars or lounges, that use a lot of glasses or particularly fragile types of drinkware will benefit from using a glassware dish machine. 

Unlike the other types of machines, glassware dish machines produce reduced water pressure and power to safely clean your glassware with as little breakage as possible.

In facilities, like bars and restaurants, cleaning glassware quickly and accurately is important to provide your patrons with a steady stream of beverages.

Your staff will have access to clean, spotless glassware for each customer’s beverage needs. 

Dishwasher Footprint

Glassware dish machines come in either under-counter, upright, or in-sink models.

In-sink glassware cleaners use a combination of water and brushes to clean glassware. These machines usually clean one glass at a time, so in facilities that use a larger amount of drinking glasses, you will benefit from either an under-counter or upright dish machine.

Cleaning Capacity

Depending on the size of the specific machine, a glassware dish machine can clean up to 1,000 glasses per hour.


Final Thoughts

Dish machines will help you and your foodservice business increase the productivity of your workers and create a healthier environment. Instead of having to manually clean the dishware in your facility, your staff can run the dishes through a commercial dish machine to achieve clean wares in less time.

There are a lot of choices when it comes to commercial dish machines. Deciding which is the best fit for your facility can be difficult.

If you have a small foodservice business that doesn’t need to clean a lot of dishes throughout the day, an under-counter dish machine will likely be best for your facility.

Larger establishments with greater space will benefit from either an upright or conveyor dish machine, which can clean more dishes per hour.

Imperial Dade can help you select the best commercial dish machines for washing and sanitizing dishes, whether you’re located in the United States, Puerto Rico, or the Caribbean.

Have a question about the best dish machines for your foodservice business? Contact an Imperial Dade Specialist today for more information on choosing the best dish machine to achieve your food service goals.

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3 Ways to Avoid the Spread of Foodborne Illnesses in Your Facility

Preventing the spread of foodborne illnesses, like Salmonella, Listeria, and E. Coli, is important to maintaining the health and safety of your customers. Read this article to learn three practices your food processing facility can use to avoid spreading illness-causing pathogens.

by John Thomas, Director of Health & Wellness at Imperial Dade

Did you know that every year, 1 in 6 Americans get sick from foodborne illnesses? Foodborne illnesses can be spread in several ways, including through food prepared at a food processing facility. No matter the size of your food processing operation, it’s important that you’re taking the cleanliness and safety of your facility seriously to avoid spreading foodborne illnesses.

To maintain a clean food processing facility, you and your staff should have a good understanding of what food sanitation is and how to use the appropriate products and procedures. Food sanitation refers to the practice of maintaining a high level of cleanliness throughout the food processing establishment using certain cleaning and sanitization processes and procedures.

Failing to achieve a high level of sanitation can lead to product contamination that affects your food product quality, taste, and most importantly, consumer health. Foodborne illnesses not only lead to sick guests but also product recalls, which may damage the reputation and brand image of your facility and even lead to lost future sales. In addition to lost sales, you might also face fines due to failure to comply with food sanitation rules.

Organizations like the USDA and the FDA have created regulations to help you stay compliant with food sanitation guidelines and avoid the spread of foodborne illnesses. Compliance is key to avoiding fines and maintaining a clean, sanitary food processing facility.

In this article, we’re going to review how to prevent the spread of foodborne illnesses in your food processing facility to protect your customers and remain compliant with food sanitation guidelines.

What Is a Foodborne Illness?

A foodborne illness is a sickness caused by bacteria, viruses, and parasites that are present in food. Toxins and chemicals that are harmful when ingested can also cause foodborne illnesses. If a consumer has a foodborne illness, they may experience discomfort and other, more serious symptoms like:

  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Stomach Cramps
  • Diarrhea

Removing illness-causing bacteria from food contact surfaces is key to protecting the food being processed and reducing the chance of a food recall.

What is a Food Recall?

Public food recalls are initiated to remove contaminated foods from the marketplace to protect consumers from buying and eating foods that have been contaminated by illness-causing bacteria. In the year 2021, there were 47 recalls initiated by the Food Safety and Inspection Services (FSIS). The total volume of food being recalled annually is usually tens of millions of pounds.

What Are the Effects of Food Recalls?

All these recalls and the related health consequences can translate to a damaged brand image and have a negative impact on your bottom line. If your food processing facility is responsible for food that causes foodborne illness for customers, your business could experience a loss in sales and extra costs. Proper sanitation can save your business money on avoidable expenses.

The need to protect your customers, and your brand, requires that your operation implement effective and documented cleaning and sanitizing processes within your facility.

How To Avoid Foodborne Illness In Your Facility

Below, we’ll provide three practices that you can use in your cleaning program to prevent the spread of foodborne illnesses to your customers.

3 Ways to Avoid the Spread of Foodborne Illnesses

Whether your food processing operation is a large meatpacking plant or a small producer of specialty items, it’s important to implement these processes and procedures to manage the operation’s food safety and sanitation programs. 

To avoid the spread of foodborne illness, your food processing establishment can implement practices like:

  • Developing and Implementing Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs)
  • Using the Right Chemicals
  • Cleaning Before Sanitizing

Developing and Implementing Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs)

Guidance from the USDA and the FDA stresses the importance of having a written food safety plan and established standard operating procedures (SOPs) for your sanitation program.

Standard operating procedures, or SOPs, are a set of written instructions that give your staff step-by-step instructions to perform routine cleaning. With SOPs, your cleaning staff will have the correct information to know the right way to clean and be able to achieve consistent results. SOPs outline the tools, products, and procedures that your staff should use to clean areas in your facility. By following thoroughly created SOPs, your janitorial team will know how and when to complete cleaning.

For example, a meat packaging establishment may create and implement SOPs that outline how their equipment should be cleaned and sanitized. The steps for completing that task may include:

  1. Disassemble the equipment
  2. Remove all product debris from equipment
  3. Rinse equipment with water to remove remaining debris
  4. Use a food-grade cleaner on the equipment
  5. Reassemble the equipment
  6. Sanitize the equipment with a food-grade sanitizer. Rinse with water, if necessary

Implementing written SOPs will also help support your efforts to stay compliant with the FDA’S Food Safety and Modernization Act (FSMA), Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points (HACCP), and the Global Food Safety Initiative (GFSI).

Each of these food safety programs and laws provides guidelines on how to minimize contamination and keep your food processing facility safe through proper sanitation practices.

The Food Safety and Modernization Act (FSMA) was signed into law in order to ensure that food is safe by preventing contamination. This act requires facilities to create a plan and retain documentation on their food safety and sanitation practices.

Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points (HAACP) is a management system that addresses food safety through the control of hazards in food processing facilities.

The Global Food Safety Initiative (GSFI) helps reduce cleaning inefficiencies through certification and provides auditing benchmarks.

Imperial Dade has had success with providing Spartan training programs to food processing customers. Spartan offers food processing sanitation training that will teach your cleaning team how to eliminate food pathogens.

Practices that will help your facility remain compliant with the FDA regulations include:

  • Establishing Written SOPs
  • Identifying Procedures
  • Specifying Cleaning and Sanitation Frequencies
  • Provide and Document Necessary Education and Training

Spartan is prepared to deliver the employee training and program documentation you need with products like their 9 step sanitation training program, their CleanCheck® Training Program, and CompuClean® Sanitation Management Software.

These programs will train your cleaning staff and equip them with the knowledge of how to remain compliant in the workplace. During training, they will learn exactly what to do, how often to do it, and the best products to use.

Using the Right Chemicals

Food-safe sanitizers should be used to reduce the presence of bacteria on the surfaces in your food processing facility. It’s important to note that sanitizers and disinfectants are not the same. Disinfectants are not typically used for food contact surfaces because they can leave behind harmful residues. Sanitizers that are food-grade effectively kill germs and are safe for contact with food without contaminating it.

Each sanitizer can remove up to 99.99% of the germs listed on the product label. The best sanitizing chemicals for your facility will be able to kill illness-causing germs and remove bacteria from surfaces.

Imperial Dade offers food production sanitation solutions including a line from Spartan Chemical.

Their Sani-T-Plus food equipment surface sanitizer is specially formulated to be effective against illness-causing bacteria like Salmonella, Listeria, and E.Coli. Imperial Dade also carries Spartan’s PAA Sanitizer, which is a peroxyacetic acid-based sanitizer that can be used on hard, non-porous food-contact surfaces in your food processing facility. This product is so safe, it can even be used as a fruit and vegetable water treatment.

For surfaces that don’t come into contact with food, Spartan’s Metaquat is an option for removing germs from the surfaces in your facility. This product can effectively kill bacteria that cause foodborne illnesses and can spread to food contact surfaces.

Cleaning Before Sanitizing

Any surfaces in your food processing facility that come into contact with food products should be cleaned and sanitized. Pathogens can easily spread on surfaces that aren’t being sanitized properly. Before using a food-safe sanitizer, you should always clean your surfaces. A dirty surface cannot be sanitized effectively. Surfaces like counters and prep tables should be clean and sanitized often to prevent the spread of foodborne illness-causing bacteria.

These surfaces should be cleaned:

  • Before each use
  • Between uses when preparing RTE (ready-to-eat) foods and raw food
  • Any time there’s a risk of contamination

Cleaning surfaces removes any soils and prepares the surfaces for sanitizing. Sanitizing surfaces reduces the number of harmful bacteria present to levels that are acceptable by the EPA.

PRO-TIP: You must sanitize after cleaning. Cleaning removes soils, but it does not kill germs. The best way to ensure you are removing all germs is to use a food-grade sanitizer. Food grade sanitizers remove 99.99% of all germs.

John Thomas

Whether you’re cleaning surfaces that are covered in grease or stubborn soils, Imperial Dade carries products that will help you achieve clean surfaces and equipment. The High-Performance Alkaline FP is a highly concentrated alkaline cleaning solution used to effectively remove sugars, proteins, and other soils found in food processing facilities. Spartan Chlorinated Degreaser will quickly cleans soils from equipment in your facility.

Final Thoughts

Avoiding foodborne illnesses in your food processing facility is an important way to keep your customers safe. Properly cleaning and sanitizing the surfaces in your building will kill illness-causing bacteria before they can infect food that touches the surface.

Imperial Dade has a wide range of food-grade sanitizing products and programs. Spartan Chemical is one of the premier chemical lines we provide which helps your janitorial team create a clean, safe environment in your facility. Spartan provides economical cleaning and sanitizing products that meet all regulatory requirements.

Whether you need sanitizing products or programs to help you create SOPs and thorough cleaning practices, Imperial Dade can help match you to the perfect products for your business.

Check out the food sanitation products that Imperial Dade carries from Spartan to help reduce the spread of foodborne illnesses in your facility:

  • Chlorinated Degreaser
  • High Performance Alkaline FP
  • Sani-T-Plus
  • Metaquat
  • PAA Sanitizer
  • Consume LIQ
  • And more…

Contact an Imperial Dade Specialist for help deciding which sanitation products are right for your facility. We will conduct a review of your sanitation program and suggest the best products, training, and processes for you and your cleaning staff. Visit our website for a location near you and call today.

Improve Your Cleaning Program Results With Resources from Imperial Dade

Maintaining an efficient cleaning process is vital for any business but improving that process and garnering better results are equally important. As a customer of Imperial Dade, numerous programs and resources are at your disposal to ensure that a healthy environment for your staff and customers is provided.

Imperial Dade’s HyProtection Zone Program: Hand Hygiene and High-Touch Surface Disinfection

This program provided by Imperial Dade is ideal for educational facilities, restaurants, fitness centers, office buildings, retail stores, hotels, and houses of worship. This program assists customers in improving their hand hygiene, cleaning, and high-touch surface disinfection protocols. By participating in this program, consumers will benefit from site surveys where critical touchpoints will be identified, product reviews that ensure that the right products are being used on each surface, and an in-depth explanation of the best practices. For even easier accessibility, onsite or virtual HyProtection Zone training is available through the Imperial Dade Cleaning Institute. The training will be conducted by experienced consultants who will guide you through the process and provide informed recommendations to guarantee a healthy and clean environment that prevents the spread of illnesses.

Imperial Dade’s EatSafe Program: For a Clean Dining Environment

The EatSafe Program assists restaurants and other foodservice establishments in providing a safe and welcoming environment for their customers. The program contains core product recommendations for every individual area in your facility, help for visual learners such as wall charts for cleaning tasks, and assets that can be used to promote the EatSafe program to your guests. In addition, the increased sanitation performance helps present an establishment that is hygienic and clean. The three core areas are front-of-house touchpoints such as table-tops, chairs, and menus, restroom fixtures like faucets, flushers, dispensers, door handles, and floors, including hard surfaces and carpeting and matting.

Imperial Dade’s Environmental Service Program: Victoria Bay Equipment and Chemicals

This program is customizable to each customer’s needs. Offered are dish and laundry equipment, chemicals, and dispensers. All of which are backed by 24/7 emergency technical service. Whether it’s warewashing, tackling everyday kitchen cleaning challenges, following proper 3-compartment sink procedures, or utilizing Victoria Bay’s chemical management system, this Imperial Dade program can maximize efficiencies and effectiveness.

Imperial Dade’s Cleaning Institute: Delivering Cleaner, Healthier Facility Solutions

Imperial Dade offers exceptional training to customers on a variety of topics ranging from general cleaning to floor care. Our Director of Training teams with our sales staff to make specific labor-saving recommendations. A computer-aided task analysis system identifies opportunities for a company and then suggests relevant training to accomplish the tasks at hand. The benefits of this program include improved safety, enhanced wellness, increased productivity, and reduced overall costs.

Imperial Dade offers highly effective consultative programs to better customers’ processes and help them maintain peak performance in areas of cleanliness. Visit our website and contact a location near you.

Safety in School Nutrition Programs

Despite different backgrounds, life experiences and age, a common educational experience exists – school foodservice. Whether a student eats in the lunchroom, classroom or simply stops by a grab-and-go kiosk, safety for students is top of mind this fall.

Changing to distance or hybrid learning has changed the way schools provide meals to students, too. Depending on state-by-state regulations, many schools across the nation have not fully returned to in-person instruction. Some schools are providing both to-go bag lunches for home and meals for classrooms. While there are many variables to how schools are managing this, one thing is for sure: School lunches are very important for many students.

Each day, 30 million students are served by the National School Lunch Program, many of whom rely on this offering as a means for nutritious, healthy food.

Automated Labeling for School Meal Programs

This year it is much harder to maintain safety standards with a traditional lunchroom format of service. Schools have adapted by mobilizing staff to bring lunches to classrooms or team up with bus drivers on their routes to deliver to students at home. This delivery style lunch continues coverage, but also increases the importance of proper labeling. Allergies, dietary restrictions and nutrition regulations must continue to be considered – printing these crucial pieces of information clearly on labels makes assessment easy and ensures a safe meal for every student.

Utilizing Clear Labeling for Prep & Food Packaging

Operators are also still focused on serving healthy student meals while taking food allergies and sensitivities into consideration. Changing dietary needs and regulations, compounded with allergies, means school foodservice operators are hypersensitive when it comes to protecting students. The DateCodeGenie® system prints labels for grab-and-go, prep, allergens and more at the touch of a button – and can be customized for your school’s unique needs. Meals can even be individually labeled with student names to ensure safety and prevent mix-ups. Plus, this intuitive system can be controlled from a centralized district or campus location to streamline and save time. Labeling becomes easy, safe and efficient so that you can focus on keeping students safe.

With the Date Code Genie®, school foodservice operators can:
  • Quick-print labels for frequently prepped items
  • Label entire meals or individual portions made for grab-and-go
  • Easily customize labels with school logo, branding and even student names
  • Display ingredients, allergens & nutrition information clearly on labels
  • Control multiple district schools in one place

Multiple label adhesives are available, including a tamper-evident style that assures delivered meals have not been compromised. Date Code Genie systems provide benefits to school foodservice operations both immediately and well into the future.

Visit our website and speak with your Imperial Dade representative about purchasing a Date Code Genie for your school or other foodservice operation.

12 Tips for Incorporating Packaging into Your Holiday Marketing Strategy

By Laura Craven

Summer is coming to a close and fall will be here sooner than you know it, as will the holiday season. According the National Retail Federation about 40% of consumers begin their holiday shopping in October. And, this year with Covid-related travel and event restrictions, more gifts will be shipped in advance of the holidays than ever before.

If you have not started to plan your holiday marketing strategy, you may already be running late. But don’t worry, Imperial Dade is here to help with a dozen tips on how incorporating packaging into your marketing plan will help you design Instagrammable products that will delight your customers and increase sales. Whether you are a small artisanal food producer or a restaurant with a retail outlet, Imperial Dade has innovative options for you.

  1. Consider your product offering and decide which items are ideal for holiday gift giving. Do you have items that can be packaged in small “stocking stuffer” sizes? Do you have products that can be bundled together to create a gift set? Once you determine your holiday line-up, it’s time to get creative with packaging.
  2. Package your products with gifting in mind. In today’s convenience culture, items that do not require additional gift wrap are more popular and consumers are willing to pay a premium.
  3. Use the correct size package for each product. Too large a package will increase shipping costs and may cause the contents to shift and become damaged. Too small a package may prevent proper closure. Just like Goldilocks, you need to find packaging that is just right.
  4. Consumers today are concerned with safety and sanitation. You may want to consider tamper-evident containers, labels, or wrap-around bands to demonstrate security. The labels and bands can be custom-printed and increase your brand recognition while protecting the contents.
  5. Package items in surprising ways. Bento boxes, wire-handle food pails, and tin-tie window bags are interesting options for items other than sushi, take-out lo mein, or coffee beans. Wood trays and cheeseboards are a great substitute for traditional wicker gift baskets and can be reused. Cardboard pop-up drink carriers can be used to hold products sold in bottles and jars. Get creative and think out of the box, literally!
  6. Containers and cartons are available in hundreds of shapes, materials, colors, and sizes. Find options that reflect your brand image and appeal to your customers’ preferences. Do you sell organic foods? If so, use packages and trays made from rapidly renewable materials such as bamboo or palm leaves. Does your target customer love luxury? If so, select designer boxes with magnetic closures and built-in ribbons. Do you create miniature works of edible art? Choose clear or window packaging to showcase your talent.
  7. If your budget is small, use colorful raffia ribbon to tie up a standard kraft paper carton, add a pretty “produced locally” label with your logo and voila, your product is ready to gift!
  8. If your products naturally go with fun activities, such as popcorn and movies, create themed bundles. Use a large movie-style popcorn tub, include a bag of your gourmet popcorn and a gift code for a movie download from a streaming service. Instant date night!
  9. Incorporate QR codes using labels that, once scanned, will link customers to your website or social media channels where they can learn more about your products.
  10. Shopping local and shopping small are growing trends. Share your story as a small business by including an “About Us” card or a newsletter with each purchase. This will help you engage with your customer on a personal level and may even help spread the word, growing your fan base.
  11. Order your holiday packaging as early as possible (now). This will give you time to photograph your products for your website, social media posts, email campaigns, printed flyers, etc.
  12. If you ship your products, secondary or outer packaging is also important. Choose adjustable shipping cartons that can be configured for a variety of sizes to minimize your inventory. Use dunnage or void fill stuffing to protect the contents, avoiding foam peanuts which tend to make a mess and annoy customers. Use custom-printed carton-sealing tape to promote your brand. Printed tape is much less expensive than custom-printed boxes and can be ordered in small quantities.

Imperial Dade has been helping food processors, farmers, and artisanal producers source packaging products and sanitation supplies for over 85 years. Our experts will help you discover unique packaging options from hundreds of manufactures that meet your specific needs and budget. Contact a packaging specialist for a complimentary consultation. Visit our website for a location near you.

8 Not-So-Scary Advantages of Ghost Kitchens

This may be the ideal time to open a new food concept!

By Laura Craven

Imagine you’ve always dreamed of opening a restaurant but the massive investment in the physical location, equipment, furniture, décor, labor, etc. was prohibitive. And, the time needed to build or remodel the space, develop the menu, train staff, pass inspections, and create a marketing campaign could take several months or even a year.

What if you could rent a turnkey commercial kitchen space for 10% or less of the initial cost to rent a traditional restaurant and hit the ground running within a matter of weeks? Impossible you say? Not if you use a ghost kitchen.

What is a ghost kitchen? Also known as “cloud”, “dark”, “delivery”, or “virtual”, ghost kitchens operate without the traditional front-of-house dining room and customer-facing store front. These shared foodservice hubs have been around for several years, arriving on the scene as delivery orders grew in popularity. Today, with dining rooms closed or restricted and more consumers adopting delivered meals, commercial kitchens designed for off-premise sales could be the answer for restauranteurs, both experienced and inspired newcomers.

The advantages of using ghost kitchens, in addition to the fractional rent, may include:

  • Strategically located in areas near many hungry customers
  • Parking and check-in stations for delivery drivers
  • Tech enabled facilities to support online ordering and status communications
  • Co-op purchasing opportunities
  • Marketing partnerships with third-party delivery services
  • Cleaning/sanitation services and HACCP support
  • Flexible leasing arrangements
  • Ability to change concepts with the seasons

A successful “virtual restaurant” still requires great food, hard work, and the ability to stand out in a crowded marketplace, but the barrier to entry is much lower.

Tips for a delivery-only model:

  • Streamline your menu for speed and off-premise quality
  • Offer unique menu items tailored for the demographics in your delivery area
  • Use the right technology application and data analytics for your business model
  • Price your offerings with applicable expenses in mind such as delivery fees
  • Use high-quality packaging to preserve temperature, texture, and appearance
  • Use tamper-evident bags and wrapped cutlery/napkin kits to ensure safety
Download the Off-Premise Packaging Guide

Today’s convenience-culture consumers are willing to pay more for having restaurant-quality food delivered. If you are interested in making your dream a reality, visit www.thekitchendoor.com for a list of ghost kitchens in your area. For a complimentary consultation on off-premise packaging, contact the experts at Imperial Dade. Visit our website for a location near you.

Innovative Restaurant Tech Takes “Contactless” to a New Level

By Laura Craven

Many technologies have been around for years including online ordering apps, digital wallets, QR codes, and geotargeted digital marketing. However, the new requirements for contactless experiences, health monitoring, and other challenges related to the COVID-19 crisis have created opportunities for innovative platforms to help restaurants reach more customers, sell more food and beverage, and adhere to new requirements.  

Adoption of restaurant technology has been accelerated by the need to adapt and survive in today’s world.

“Restaurants are an important part of communities and the fabric of society. They are going through a hard time and tech companies and the broader ecosystem need to support them through it. ”

Ray Reddy, CEO of Ritual

Imagine being able to pay your check by simply smiling at your mobile phone. In this recent article published by Deigo Coquillat, the fusion of digital wallets and facial recognition is explored.

Technology can also help streamline activities, allowing for labor to be reallocated to other tasks. With labor averaging about 30% of a restaurant’s expenses, any opportunity to offset the cost of new expenses such as higher-quality packaging, managing curbside pick-ups, or frequent cleaning and disinfecting is critical.

Jennifer Marston asked the leaders of 8 restaurant tech companies about their philosophy in bringing new tools to the industry. She summed up their answers in her latest article in The Spoon. Concepts ranging from loyalty programs, staff health checks, and guest data management are discussed.

“Best in class hospitality tech platforms enable operators to offering experiences that meet changed guest expectations around health and safety, while helping them market to guests in a personalized manner.”

Jennifer Marston, The Spoon

Taking contactless experiences to a new level includes self-pouring beverage dispensers that are activated by scanning a QR code with a mobile device. Nancy Luna writes about Coca-Cola’s Freestyle Machines in Nation’s Restaurant News and explains the latest in sanitary self-serve beer taps and cloud-based menu options.  

“The idea is to be safe, seamless and fun.”

Michael Conner, Chief Architect of Coca-Cola Freestyle

New restaurant technology will continue to emerge and if those platforms improve guest experience, solve problems, and help operators succeed they will be valuable additions to the marketplace.

Versatile and Cost-Effective, Labels Have Been Used for Thousands of Years

Back in the 1930s, Stan Avery was frustrated with the messy process of applying glue to labels at the point of application. He created the self-adhesive label and ignited an entire industry.

Of course, labels go back a long time before Mr. Avery. Product identification was around in the days of Egypt’s King Tutankhamen. In fact, King Tut was buried with a collection of wine, the vessels all inscribed with information related to the contents. In the early 1700s, a French monk, Pierre Perignon, used handwritten parchment paper labels tied to a bottle of wine to maintain inventory. Fast forward to 1798 when Bavarian inventor Alois Senefelder invented lithography. Paper labels, mostly for wine and beer at that time, could now be mass produced. Drug labels were next on the timeline, developed in the mid-19th century, and included instructions and safety warnings. This was about the same time that the gummed postage stamp was created.

Today, labels are made from a variety of materials and adhesives and are used for a plethora of applications. They come in every shape, every color, and customization is a breeze. For small jobs you can even print them at home using label stock from, you guessed it, Avery brand products.

Here are 10 uses for labels in foodservice, beyond basic product identification.

  1. Tamper-evident labels for food and beverage packaging
  2. Coupons for repeat sales
  3. Tracking food safety and freshness information
  4. Merchandising for increased sales
  5. Branding on bags, cups, and containers
  6. Fastening bags and boxes
  7. Displaying special dietary attributes
  8. Sharing cooking and reheating instructions
  9. Decorating kids’ cups and containers
  10. Holiday greetings and promotions

For more information on labels for foodservice from top manufacturers, including Bollin Label Systems, please contact Imperial Dade. Visit our website for a location near you.

Warewashing, An Important Part of your Kitchen Sanitation Program

An effective warewashing program can ensure kitchenware cleanliness, enhance guest satisfaction, and save money. For this edition of The Expert Interview,  Laura Craven spoke to Angel Rodriguez. As a Regional Director of Chemical Sales at Imperial Dade, Angel oversees the Environmental Service Program. With over 20 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, can result in health code violations, or worse, it can make people sick.

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

AR: It is a very important process in a kitchen sanitation program, 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.

Restaurants, Consider Switching to Linen-Replacement Napkins for a More Sanitary Option

By Laura Craven

Linen napkins have long been considered a necessity by many restaurants. However, with heightened concerns about sanitation, now is a good time to consider linen-replacements.

With the latest in paper-making technology, linen-replacement napkins are practical, economical, and can support an upscale brand image. Here are a few things to consider when choosing between linen and paper linen-replacement napkins.

Why Linen-replacement Napkins

  • Linen-replacement napkins are sanitary and require less handling before use by the guest.
  • Linen-replacement napkins are perfect for off-premise applications and can be included in upscale wrapped cutlery kits.
  • Good quality linen-replacement napkins are about $0.04 – $.0.06 each.
  • Linen-replacement napkins are available in many styles, sizes, colors, and patterns. They can also be printed and embossed to create branding opportunities for restaurants.
  • Linen-replacement napkins are very absorbent and soft. One napkin typically lasts an entire meal.

Why Not Linen Napkins

  • Linen napkin rentals can range from $0.75 on the low end to over $3 on the high end. Additional costs include pick-up and delivery fees, laundering, storage bags, and replacement for lost or damaged napkins.
  • Linen napkins are typically handled by many people between the time they are laundered, transported, folded or rolled, and placed on the dining table. This creates many opportunities for contamination.
  • Linen napkins are treated with chemicals during laundering, which reduce their absorbency over time and make them rough to the touch. This results in customers requesting additional napkins, often paper, to wipe their hands and clean up spills.
  • Linen napkins are stored in bags or totes after use along with food particles, grease, and other debris from the dining tables. This creates an unsanitary environment attracting insects and rodents.
  • Linen napkins are stored and laundered with other linen items including table cloths, uniforms, and towels all of which can introduce contaminants to the load.
  • Linen napkins have a higher carbon footprint than paper when you factor in fabric manufacturing, napkin manufacturing, continuous transportation, laundering, plastic wrapping, and ultimate disposal.

To learn more about the many linen-replacement options available, contact your Imperial Dade Sales Consultant. For a location near you, visit our website.

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