There is no doubt in my mind that the hotel, restaurant and catering (horeca) sector is still an excellent opportunity for the drinking water industry.
On a visit to Hotelympia at London’s ExCel this week, I was interested to see drinking water and filter companies sitting so neatly alongside coffee, vending, foodservice and other catering businesses.
Wherever there is a need for sophisticated drinks offerings, there is also now a strong demand for a constant supply of top quality water, be it chilled, sparkling or boiling supplies for hot beverages.
There were a number of familiar faces at the show, with some of their latest products. The growth in demand for in-line bottling systems and filtration technology in the horeca sector was evident, with Classeq (Eau de Vie), The Pure Water Company, Vivreau, 3M Purification and Brita all present.
The Pure Water Company had a prototype touchscreen filter tap on display, set for launch in 2012. Vivreau, meanwhile, has taken its successful V20 tap to the next level with a complete design overhaul.
Scotsman Ice Systems debuted one of the most flexible ice flaking solutions the UK hospitality sector has ever been offered. The new machines are a development of its AF range of flaked ice-makers.
European manufacturer of filter coffee brewers and water boilers, Marco Beverage Systems, dedicated part of its stand to the latest trend in coffee shops, the Brew Bar. This is the individual cup-by-cup brewing of coffee, usually single estate and originals using a variety of different methods. It was also displaying its under-counter Ecoboiler and a new range of low-cost, autofill water boilers.
Bravilor Bonamat used Hotelympia to launch a range of bean-to-cup coffee machines in association with European specialist Rex Royale.
Diversified technology company 3M showed its reverse osmosis (RO) filtration system and high-capacity anti-scale filter. These popular filters offer an enhanced taste experience for the consumer while lowering the operating costs of catering equipment in commercial areas.
Of course, Hotelympia is about even more than beverage options. There were a whole host of other innovations on offer across five categories: catering equipment, food & drink, interiors & technology, tabletop and bathroom and spa.
On my trip around the stands, I marvelled at chocolate sculpture and cake decoration award winners before trying a number of new products in the food and drink section. This included the delicious Simply iced frappes, frozen yogurt from Blue Ice Machines, imported Italian olives, apple cordials from Norfolk Cordials, a new brand of apple crisps – even goats cheese popcorn!
It will now be interesting to see if other water cooler and filter tap businesses look more keenly at the horeca sector.
Despite tough economic times, the food and drink service industry continues to hold its own. If so, an annual trip to Hotelympia may be on the cards.
Hannah Oakman is editor of Cooler Innovation magazine
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- Foodservice > Catering
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- Beverage > Tea & Coffee
- Foodservice > Vending
- Beverage > Water