Street savvy refrigeration for the new normal

Adaptable and flexible equipment is key to meet growing street food sector

Back at the end of 2019 the street food sector was one of the fastest growing segments of the foodservice industry, with about 10% growth on a year on year basis and a total estimated value of £1.2 billion according to industry figures.

While the pandemic had an effect on street food, as it did throughout the industry, with the cancellation or scaling back of public events and festivals, street food vendors are in a great position to rebound from these setbacks and continue the sector’s growth. Many are creating new avenues to sell their products as the world continues to adapt to changing circumstances, or collaborating with other street food businesses to enable them to benefit from efficiencies of scale by working in co-operative kitchens.

For example, many companies looking to add value for employees returning to the office are arranging for street food to be served alongside their regular catering function. This could be as simple as arranging for a food truck to visit the office regularly, while larger companies are beginning to add in dedicated street food “pod kitchens” within their existing canteens or kitchens. Then there’s the ongoing resurgence of dedicated street food festivals and food market pop-ups, as well as stadia sites being another popular location and opportunity for street food success.

Meanwhile, street food collectives and agencies are gaining in popularity as a method of providing small businesses access to professional kitchen equipment.

Street food businesses should easily be able to adapt to these new opportunities as they require the kind of kitchen setup they have already mastered. Compact, flexible, robust and reliable equipment that allows a small kitchen crew to quickly produce a condensed and tailored menu of foods are still the order of the day, and as with all kitchens, refrigeration equipment plays a vital role.

Undercounter units are a great way to store food in a range of small kitchens, as they can fit underneath worktops to give access to ingredients right where they’re needed. Williams range of Amber undercounter fridges have front-vented refrigeration systems that are ideal for installation in enclosed spaces like food trucks. Jade slimline counters are another great option for smaller spaces – with a depth of just 500mm, while still offering all the features of the standard Jade models.

Williams’ range of Chef’s Drawers can also be used to provide refrigerated storage right at the workface. These can even be sited under equipment used in mobile street food kitchens, like grills and griddles. By guaranteeing the integrity of ingredients right until they’re needed, they help to maintain the highest food safety standards.

Chefs’ Drawers are also stackable which increases the footprint capacity, creating a flexible bespoke storage solution. Variable temperature models that can be switched between chilled and frozen storage offer even more flexibility.

Most street food businesses will pre-prepare food to enable them to meet demand or increase their menu without adding extra work on their primary equipment. Blast chiller/freezers are particularly useful for increasing stock levels before large street food events, and are increasingly regular sights in co-op kitchens. Williams range of blast chiller/freezers are ideal for larger operations, as well as compact undercounter units that let smaller locations use these techniques.

All parts of the foodservice industry will have to continue adapting to the changes brought on by the pandemic and its legacy.  The street food sector is one that is ideally suited to rise to the challenge. Street food operators will find new niches to deliver great food to customers, and new ways to work, either individually or as co-operative groups, as long as their equipment, including quality refrigeration, is up to the task.