Industry News | October 12, 2007

NAFEM 2007–Reports From the Floor: Multipurpose Blender Looks to Move Into Quick-Service

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By: Blair Chancey

Looking to make its transition from c-stores to restautants, F'Real Systems debuted its multipurpose blender to the quick-service industry today at the North America Association of Foodservice Equipment (NAFEM) Show in Atlanta.

"It's been a scramble to keep up with demand the last couple of years," says Paul Gobel, vice president of sales for the company, talking about its blender that can make smoothies, cappiccunos, and milkshakes all within a 12"-by-20" footprint. "We didn't expect for it to take off the way it did." The blender, which is already used by c-store giants like WaWa and Sheetz, can make up to 60 cups per hour and blends orders in under a minute, making it ripe for a transition to drive-thru operations.

The F'Real blender is made up of a half-size refrigerator which houses cups of F'Real-brand blends in various flavors for each of the three product lines. Once the flavor is chosen, a cup is placed under the blender and the machine blends it to the desired thickness. Although mix-ins for the smoothie and milkshake options are not currently available, the company plans to roll out the option within the near future.

As the product is used in a c-store capacity, the blender is in front of the counter for customers to operate. That would change if the product was implemented into a quick-service unit says Gobel. He says the quick speed and small footprint make it perfect fot fast-food use, since units are often limited in kitchen space.

David Barranco of Chappy's Deli, a five-unit concept out of Montgomery, Alabama, says the multipurpose ability is what attracted him to the F'Real blender. "It's frozen cappiccunos, milkshakes, and smoothies--something healthy, something unhealthy, and something to give you a kick."

Barranco says that replacing the company's traditional milkshakes with the three-in-one blender would simplify the traditional milkshake process the stores have in place now, which he describes as "painful." A F'Real spokeswoman also says that the blender's multiple offerings would open more of the day part up to potential sales.

"We have a lot of people that do a cross-over with the product," she says. "You can come in for a milkshake at night and in the morning come in for a cappiccuno. It's really to appeal to different people through out the day."

While all three product lines are made from natural dairy ingredients, offering a healthier and more upscale taste, that also means that F'Real, too, is feeling pinched by recent dairy price hikes. "We've just taken our first price increase in about three years," Gobel says. "So, it's not like we're incramentally increasing. This time it was about 3 to 5 percent, depending on the product line." Gobel says the company tries to avoid raising prices to retailers because the company wants them to sell the cappiccunos, smoothies, and shakes all within a suggested price range.

The units vary in price from low-range--for concepts that would store the F'Real blends in their own freezers--to high-end units that feature two-door freezers below double blenders. Low-range units begin in the low $6,000s and can be upgraded with options to coast close to $12,000.