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Operators stir up excitement with frozen beverages

Sweet, refreshing and infinitely slurpable, frozen beverages are in a class by themselves. This ultra-cool family of beverages—which includes smoothies, frozen cappuccinos, shakes and iced, blended creations of all sorts—has a wide and growing popularity. Fifty-one percent of consumers said they ordered a frozen beverage from foodservice in the last month, according to Technomic’s 2016 Beverage Consumer Trend Report, powered by Ignite, and 30% of consumers said they are purchasing frozen beverages now more than they were two years ago.

The most craveable creations by major chains include Starbucks’ Frappuccinos, Dunkin’ Donuts’ Coolattas, McDonald’s Frappes, Sonic’s slushes and Jamba Juice’s smoothies, according to the Technomic’s Beverage report. But these bigtime players are not only creating these concoctions, they’re driving the category, building consumer awareness and paving the way for smaller operators and emerging brands to cash in on the opportunity as well.  New and innovative equipment has enabled aspiring fast-casual and quick-service restaurant operators to sell blender-made signature frozen beverages without having to invest in costly, labor-intensive equipment that takes up a lot of space.

Thus it’s no accident that some of the most trend-setting and highly emulated small chains in the industry—such as Potbelly, Mod Pizza, Which Wich and Smashburger—have grown with made-to-order shakes or smoothies on their menus.

A growing number of operators are discovering the benefits of selling frozen beverages, which are effective check builders that generally have higher profit margins than food items and require little labor or skill to prepare. They can be especially appealing to younger consumers and millennials, and in a time when an increasing number of consumers are snacking more in lieu of standard meals, promoting sweet and icy concoctions in the midafternoon is a proven way to attract add-on sales. 

The key for smaller operators to compete with the big chains in frozen beverages is setting up a cost- and labor-efficient blending station behind the counter. “Restaurants want to provide the best tasting food as fast as possible with the least amount of labor,” says Michelle Davis, Sr. Director of Sales for f’real Foods.  “In addition, they don’t have a lot of capital to spend, or space in their kitchen, so equipment needs to be inexpensive with a small footprint.”  F’real foods has built a new behind-the-counter frozen beverage blending system with these exact requirements in mind.

Unlike many other frozen beverage machines, f’real’s B7 Blender has a small footprint. It has no need for an ice machine, drain or water line and offers one-touch blending in less than 40 seconds. Plus, it is easy and quick to use, with no measuring, scooping or pouring, and the mixing head simply twists off making it easy to wash and sanitize.

As the larger restaurant chains continue to drive awareness for the frozen beverage category, more and more of the smaller operators and emerging chains are finding innovative and cost-effective ways to capitalize on these trends while offering higher quality products in both classic and unique flavors that convert cool beverages into cold cash.

This post is sponsored by f’real foods

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