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Research reveals upscaling tableware benefits

14/02/2018
Independent research agency ‘Zebra Square’ investigated the effect of different quality tableware on consumers. The research, carried out in September, demonstrated how consumers’ perceptions of how much they would be willing to pay for a wide range of food and drink when eating-out is directly affected by the type and quality of tableware it is served-on.

Results indicate that for some dishes a 20% price uplift could be achieved if exactly the same food was served on more innovative and stylish tableware.

15 separate dishes were selected covering starters, main courses, desserts and drinks with all of them being items likely to appear on the menus of typical high street restaurant and pub chains.

The dishes were then prepared, cooked and plated-up using three distinct quality levels of tableware. These ranged from Low (basic value for money white crockery, cutlery and glassware) through to Medium (mid-market brands with more style and innovation) and finally High (very stylish product ranges demonstrating the highest levels of innovation).

Exactly the same food and drink was used at all three quality levels and a consistent table-top background was used throughout. The only variable that changed was the tableware the food was actually served on.

All the dishes were then photographed and large images shown to 200 consumers who were selected on the basis that they regularly ate out and had a socio-demographic profile typical of customers of mid-market restaurants and pubs. 100 of the consumers looked at the images online and 100 were interviewed face-to-face.

The consumers were then asked to rank all the dishes on their three quality levels of tableware in terms of which looked the highest quality and most expensive, as well as how much they would expect to pay for the dish. To do this they were given price bands to select from based on typical high-street menu pricing.

When the results were analysed a number of conclusions were drawn:

1. Consumers consistently ranked the dishes presented on ‘High’ level tableware as looking the highest quality and most expensive when compared to the dishes served on the Low and Medium level tableware.

2. Consumers consistently valued the dishes presented on the ‘High’ level tableware at a higher price than the dishes presented on the Low and Medium level tableware.

3. Overall the consumers valued dishes served on the High level tableware at a price level +12.5% more than the Low level tableware.

4. The price uplift effect varied between the different types of dishes. Main courses showed the biggest uplift at +15.0% with some specific dishes recording an uplift of almost 20%. Desserts showed the smallest uplift at +7.6%. But all 15 dishes showed a clear perceived price uplift.

5. The pricing uplift on two specific main courses (steak and chips and a fish dish) was on average over £2.

6. Women consistently valued dishes at all 3 levels higher than men. For example for steak and chips the average price uplift was £2.41. But for women exclusively it was £2.99 and for men it was £1.85.

Nicky Holmes, MD of Zebra Square said: “This has been a fascinating project to carry out. I think we all intuitively believe that presentation of food and drink impacts on quality and price perceptions but this research actually gives a monetary value to those perceptions. 

“This means you can calculate the likely impact of any investment in tableware and glassware. We also saw some interesting differences in the views of older and younger respondents, males and females and north versus south. 

“There is a message in there around knowing your audience and the prices they are willing to go to, but in the main consumers want eating out to feel different and more special than being at home, and the presentation is a great vehicle for this. My favourite example is the soup which just shows how a relatively basic choice can be transformed through presentation.”


Wooden serving boards are more hygienic than plastic boards

06/02/2018
Recent research carried out by Dr. Dean O. Cliver & Ms. N. O. Ak at the University of Wisconsin-Madison in the US states that wooden serving boards are more hygienic than their plastic counterparts. 

They began their research comparing plastic and wooden cutting boards after the U.S. Department of Agriculture told them they had no scientific evidence to support their recommendation that plastic, rather than wooden cutting boards be used in home kitchens. Then and since, the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Meat and Poultry Inspection Manual (official regulations) and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration's 1995 Food Code (recommended regulations for restaurants and retail food sales in the various states of the U.S.) permit use of cutting boards made of maple or similar close-grained hardwood (Beechwood, Heveawood & Acacia fall under this category in the UK). They do not specifically authorise acceptable plastic materials, nor do they specify how plastic surfaces must be maintained. 

'Our research was first intended to develop means of disinfecting wooden cutting surfaces, so that they would be almost as safe as plastics. Our safety concern was that bacteria such as Escherichia coli O157:H7 (commonly known as E-coli) and Salmonella, which might contaminate a work surface when raw meat was being prepared, ought not remain on the surface to contaminate other foods that might be eaten without further cooking. We soon found that disease bacteria such as these were not recoverable from wooden surfaces in a short time after they were applied, unless very large numbers were used. New plastic surfaces allowed the bacteria to persist, but were easily cleaned and disinfected. However, wooden boards that had been used and had many knife cuts acted almost the same as new wood, whereas plastic surfaces that were knife-scarred were impossible to clean and disinfect manually, especially when food residues such as chicken fat were present.

'Although the bacteria that had disappeared from the wood surfaces were found alive inside the wood for some time after application, they evidently do not multiply, and they gradually die. They can be detected only by splitting or gouging the wood or by forcing water completely through from one surface to the other. If a sharp knife is used to cut into the work surfaces after used plastic or wood has been contaminated with bacteria and cleaned manually, more bacteria are recovered from a used plastic surface than from a used wood surface'. 

This article has come in the light of recent misconceptions to wooden boards being unhygienic as bacteria becomes trapped in the knife cuts within. In an industry where food safety and hygiene are paramount, it is important that information is correct. Wooden boards suit most dishes such as burgers or foods that are not liquid based, which is why many restaurants use wooden boards to serve its dishes. 


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Top carpet cleaning tips and tricks

17/01/2018
Businesses & offices are always likely to be busy and carpets will be trodden on and stained over time, keeping it clean can be a difficult task if it isn't dealt with straight away. Read our useful tips and tricks on keeping your carpet(s) clean...

Deal with any spills immediately
To avoid an accidental spill becoming a stain, deal with it straight away. Your carpet cleaner will be able to collect most of the liquid before it soaks in. If your carpet cleaner isn’t immediately at hand, place some sheets of kitchen roll on top of the spill to soak up as much as possible. Resist the temptation to rub! This will drive the liquid further into carpet.

Vacuum thoroughly first...
Vacuuming up any surface debris before you wash your carpets will make the job much easier and will stop your carpet washer from getting all clogged up. This is especially important if you’re cleaning up after a Christmas party, as tinsel and pine needles can play havoc with your cleaner.

Use the right solution...
It may be tempting to try something other than the manufacturer’s recommended cleaning solution in your carpet cleaner, but it’s really not a good idea. Poorly manufactured ‘one size fits all’ solutions could damage your carpet, damage your carpet cleaner and invalidate its warranty in many cases.

The carpet cleaning solutions designed for use in your carpet cleaner is specially-formulated so that it won’t produce excessive foam, which will block your cleaner, or leave any sticky residues on your carpet, which can attract more dirt. These solutions will also include technologies to tackle high-traffic areas, be kind to allergy sufferers or remove pet odours. 

For the very best cleaning results, always use the recommended carpet cleaning solution and if your carpets contain wool, look out for the ‘Woolsafe approved’ logo on the bottle to give extra peace of mind.

Check a small area first...
If you’ve never washed your carpets before, it’s always best to try your carpet cleaner in a small, ‘hidden’ area first, just to check the unlikely possibility of the colour fastness of the carpet being affected by the solution or the general cleaning action of the cleaner. Your carpet manufacturer or supplier should be able to help advise on this too.

Pre-treat if possible...
For the best results on carpets that are very dirty, deeply-stained or haven’t been cleaned previously, try applying a pre-treatment cleaning solution before you begin general carpet cleaning. Spray the pre-treatment solution onto heavily-soiled areas and leave it a few minutes to break down the stain before carpet cleaning as normal, but always follow the instructions on the solution bottle.

Start furthest from the door...
It sounds so obvious when you say it, but when starting carpet cleaning, begin in the corner furthest away from the door and work back towards the door. That way you won’t be walking on damp carpet and getting damp feet!

Clean in over-lapping straight lines...
For the most thorough clean, use parallel strokes with your carpet cleaner, allowing a small overlap to help prevent streaking. An extra tip is to push your carpet cleaner at about half the speed you would push an upright vacuum. Steady use yields the best results!

Try not to over-soak...
If you clean to the point of soaking your carpet, it will take longer to dry but be no cleaner afterwards. To avoid getting your carpet too saturated, use no more than 3-4 ‘wet’ strokes per area. Use more ‘dry’ strokes than wet strokes, and finish with a flourish of steady dry strokes, until hardly any water is being sucked up. Hey presto; dry carpets!

Concentrate on the stubborn stains...
The most stubborn stains and high-traffic areas, such as doorways, landings and hallways are often best tackled using the hose and wash tool, as this will gives a more concentrated cleaning effect. Pre-treat these areas if possible and then use the wash tool to scrub and break-down the dirt. Oily stains may require more than a single application of pre-treatment solution, as these are very stubborn amongst carpet fibres. Don't forget any corners and crevices you may miss out!

Leave windows and doors open while drying
Allows your carpet to dry quicker, particularly in the summer months. If not, turn your heating up!

And remember, stay on top of cleaning to avoid build up of those annoying stains!


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17/01/2018

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