Condiments’ Place In The Modern Foodservice Industry

Stratas Foods condiments

Stratas Foods LLC is the leading supplier of fats and oils to the Food Service, Food Ingredients and Retail Private Label markets in North America.

Stratas FoodsTotal Food Service sat down with Vincent Barcelona of Stratas Foods to talk about condiments and its place in the modern foodservice marketplace.

What does a restaurant need to know about the selection of condiments?

Selection of condiments on a restaurant’s menu is crucial. Condiments can define and play a big part in the restaurant’s core concept in sending the right message (identity) to the end user (customers). Littering a menu with the wrong mix of condiments can and usually does create an identity crisis to the Restaurants core marketing concept.

How do condiments impact a restaurant’s guest experience?

Condiments can send messages, cutting edge, trendy flavors that may not be expected, creating that WOW factor. Condiments can also send comforting recognizable aromas; flavors and mouth feel that trigger memories, all play a big part in the customer’s experience.

The hamburger is back bigger than ever. How should a restaurant approach the condiments used to meet the resurgent demand?

What I do see with my work in the QSR and private restaurant segment is that operators are looking at what are the current and emerging trends, bold craveable flavors, (The Next Big Thing) cost, and the perception of over delivering on value through a flavor of a condiment. After all what separates two of the same burger sauces / condiments?

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What are the pros and cons of dispensing: With individual packets? In a pump scenario?

Packets, Pro… that’s pretty straight forward, portion control. The operator can keep a firm handle on costs by using packets. Con, packets could be a little messy if mishandled.

Pumps, Pro… the product is sent in pouches and is very easy and clean for the employees to handle, work with and load the pump dispensers, very little if any waste. Con, although the pump system could assist in controlling costs, there is no way to regulate how much a customer pumps out into a self-serve cup, therefore “over-pumping” could occur.

What advice do you have for the P&L of condiments? Is there a relationship between the cost of the burger/sandwich and the condiment portion?

My advice is on the operator’s level and management of employees. It is crucial to the food cost of burgers and sandwiches; employees must add the proper amount of a condiment “sauce” if the cooks are applying the product. Overseeing the employees that are handing out the correct amount of packets or putting packets in bags for to go / takeout food, monitoring the size “oz.” cups for pump applications. Control in these areas result in real bottom line dollars.

Talk about the flexibility that using the right salad oils and dressings can have in building a condiment strategy?

Using the right salad oil & dressings can save on labor costs. Streamlining the chef’s prep-lists and most importantly value in consistency. The end result is the foods are always coming out exactly the same across multiple platforms.

Lots of talk about healthier eating. What role can condiments play?

There is no getting away from healthier “cleaner eating” it’s a trend that will be the standard going forward. We as condiment manufacturers are taking steps in Culinary and R&D to source clean, heart healthy foods and processes to retain the foods’ natural integrity and pass that on to the end consumer through quality, value, and unmatched taste / flavor.

Discuss the R&D that your scientists and technicians developed to test the latest in shortening and oil technologies?

Shortenings and oils are the workhorses in both bakery and deep fried food applications.  Shortenings help to provide the textural and structural characteristics of our best-loved bakery products while deep-frying oils provide a safe and robust medium to prepare deep fried foods.

Our R&D scientists are charged with identifying and implementing research programs centered on achieving shortening and margarine products which deliver on taste, quality, convenience and nutritional attributes for the intended end-use applications.

Often times this entails developing and testing special combinations of base oil and processes to achieve a deep frying oil which allows the goodness of the food to come through as is the case of our ultra-purified high oleic sunflower oil products.

Our latest challenge has been to achieve bakery shortenings, which are true drop in replacements for partial hydrogenation, based shortenings. The primary challenge with partial hydrogenation based shortenings is that their melting properties in bakery applications are difficult to replicate with non-partial hydrogenation components.  Our scientists solved this dilemma by developing our Golden Flex shortening line of products, which utilize a base oil combination with our Flex process to achieve a bakery shortening which delivers partial hydrogenation performance without partial hydrogenation.

To learn more information about Stratas Foods, visit their website.