Crussh may be synonymous with juices and smoothies, but the London-centric chain has always served food to complement its innovative drinks since it opened in 1998. Hot food-to-go is one of the biggest current food trends and, on the back of the successful launch of a line-up of soups and hot pots and ‘Fit Eggs’ concept, Crussh plans to step up its offering further. The challenge for operators, however, is how to display hot products to meet the demands of peak trading for hours on end without impacting on quality. Crussh found the solution in the Flexeserve Zone® from The Alan Nuttall Partnership Ltd.
Crussh opened its first store on central London’s Cornhill in 1998, making a name for itself as an aficionado of healthy and nutritious, freshly pressed juice and smoothies blended to order. Nearly two decades on, there are 26 outlets across the capital and, evolving with the times, Crussh now offers everything from protein smoothies to green ‘cleansing’ juices for modern lifestyles.
Whilst Crussh is perhaps best known for its juices and smoothies, however, the operator has always prided itself on its healthy fast food offering, from porridge bowls to signature healthpots, zero noodles, sandwiches and desserts, all handmade in Crussh’s own kitchens every day.
Rebranding to Crussh Fit Food in 2014 to re-emphasise its food offering, they started looking at new opportunities in food-to-go. Operations director Nick Nathan said food-to-go was a lucrative market growing at five percent Y-O-Y which is attributed to a quarter of all Britons’ eating out spend1.
Hot food-to-go, in particular, has exploded in the last couple of years, said Nick. As a constant innovator and leader of healthy food trends, we wanted to tap into this with even more stand-out concepts that would also maximise on growing meal occasions throughout the day.
Cracking hot food-to-go
Convenience is still the main driver across all demographics (44%), with Callebaut research finding that over three quarters of millennials pick up food on-the-go at least once a week2. Crussh’s hot food-to-go offering got off the ground with a line-up of soups, from classics such as Leek & Potato and Broccoli & Cheese through to gourmet soups such as Louisiana Chicken Gumbo and Portuguese Caldo Verde Super Soup, as well as organic options including Moroccan Tomato.
This was followed by a selection of hot pots, from Chipotle Chicken & Black Beans Stew with Baby Spinach, Brown & Red Rice Mix through to Butternut & Spinach Coconut Curry with Baby Spinach, Brown & Red Rice Mix. These are complemented by EnerGi pots, including Beef Red Chilli with Spelt, Brazilian Pulled Pork & Black Beans with Pearl Cous Cous and Mushroom & Bacon Barley Risotto.
With breakfast increasingly being bought and consumed in transit, with one in six now eating what is dubbed the ‘most important meal of the day’ at their desk3, Crussh launched a hot, scrambled egg pot concept which consumers could quickly and easily purchase straight from a hot display cabinet.
Finding a unit that would keep everything from the soups and hotpots to the egg pots in Crussh’s Fit Eggs range in optimum condition for the full breakfast and lunch service was one of the key challenges.
In the Zone
Nick discovered the Flexeserve Zone® at The Alan Nuttall Partnership Ltd stand at the lunch! exhibition. The award-winning heated display gives operators the opportunity to offer a range of self-serve merchandising solutions in one cabinet, from a breakfast offer including porridge, bacon rolls, toasties and croissants to a hot lunch offer, from paninis and hearty soups to warm desserts.
The multi-zoned heated display, which can be trialled at Nuttall’s Foodservice Innovation Centre in Leicestershire, has three or four individually operated thermal zones with their own temperature controls, with plans for a five tier unit. The patented technology uses hot air convection or surface conduction, which can be configured by the operator to maximise food quality and display times.
Having flexible zone efficiencies also means you save energy, with operators only having to use the power required. The unit also incorporates LED lighting to reduce utility costs, which can be turned on or off, using only the power required at the time of merchandising according to footfall.
The hot point
Warwick Wakefield, lead development chef for the Nuttall’s Foodservice Innovation Centre, said energy saving was a priority for Crussh, but extended holding time and increased product quality were the biggest selling points.
With the Fit Eggs, for example, you are talking about a tricky and delicate product which can easily dry out and become unpalatable, he said. Crussh also wanted to introduce different varieties using diverse and innovative ingredients, which had to be factored in, as did the packaging.
Crucially, the high standard of the range is maintained for up to four hours in optimum condition in the Flexeserve Zone®, which is now installed at the majority of the 26 Crussh sites and enables the operator to tap into the lucrative breakfast and brunch on-the-go market, and then easily reconfigure the units for its lunchtime on-the-go offering.
The Zone offers exactly the right functionality and flexibility to enable us to serve a fantastic product, and because of the quality we can achieve, we are now looking to include more soups, stews and egg pot varieties and are also launching a hot chicken salad this summer, said Nick. The Zones are also in our bespoke colours to complement our sites, all adding extra visual impact.
The holding equipment you choose can make a huge difference to a hot food-to-go offer, dramatically affecting a product’s taste, texture and overall palatability. Our Flexeserve Zone® is transforming this rapidly expanding market and changing expectations for the better.
For more information on the Flexeserve Zone® and booking a trial at Nuttall’s Foodservice Innovation Centre, visit www.nuttalls.co.uk or call 01455 638300.
- Callebaut food on-the-go research 2016
- Callebaut food on-the-go research 201
- Survey by Imodium (2,018 people) – February 2016