Health benefits

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Appliances that promote healthy cooking are more popular than ever, says Hayley Gilbert. Retailers should be making the most of this sector with the latest models to entice customers to trade up.

Getting our ‘five a day’ is a message thoroughly ingrained in consumers’ minds, which means that the concept of healthy eating has never been so popular. Customers are keen to maintain a healthy lifestyle, so whether they are kitting out a kitchen from scratch or simply updating an existing scheme, there are plenty of opportunities to recommend a healthy add-on.

Market trends

“Consumers are more aware of healthy cooking techniques and appliances due to cookery programmes and chefs,” says Neil Pooley, kitchen category manager at Miele. “The current trends are for stylish appliances that can be operated effortlessly, helping time-poor consumers create quick and healthy meals.”

Bill Miller, sales and marketing director for Gorenje, agrees, “Consumers are paying much more attention to their lifestyle and well-being, particularly with health issues such as obesity on the rise, and so are interested in exploring the healthy cooking appliance options that are available to them.”

This is never more true than at the start of a new year, as resolutions are made to cut back on fatty foods and take up more exercise. Manufacturers have predicted that the healthy eating market will be big news this year, as more appliances are being launched to keep up with demand.

Social factors

Steam cooking is back in fashion but forget the DIY approach with steam baskets and fussy inserts, as today’s discerning homeowner is looking to invest in one of the latest combination or steam-only ovens.

“At the beginning of a new year, weight management is a primary concern for many people,” explains Steve Dickson, commercial manager for Stoves, “particularly after the excesses of Christmas, so healthy cooking trends are often defined by the popular diet of the time, with a focus on calorie reduction in recipes. Driven by the struggling economy and the high cost of living, there has also been a return to back-to-basics cooking, with greater focus on using fresh, quality ingredients and reducing waste.”

Steam ovens

Steam ovens not only enable you to cook more healthily, but they are also a versatile method of preparing all sorts of food, from fish, seafood and sauces to vegetables, puddings and rice.

There are plenty of steam ovens for the customer to choose from, so retailers would do well to offer a broad range of brands, covering all price points and features.

V-ZUG’s Combi-Steam XSL not only offers the largest internal cooking space of any 45cm niche appliance with a generous 51 litre capacity, but it also delivers on performance with its patented steam generating system – perfect for those who love to entertain.

Samsung’s newly launched Dual Cook steam oven incorporates steam as an additional cooking option alongside the more traditional grilling, baking and roasting. This makes it the perfect choice for families looking for a more flexible solution.

According to Mike Jarrett, sales director of Neff, the company is into its second generation of models, with key developments including combination steam cooking using hot air to super-heat the steam. “The interior design is also sleeker,” he points out, “with hidden water entry points and smoother, easier to clean interiors. We now also offer a broader selection of compact models to fit all kitchen shapes and sizes.”

Other models on the market include Miele’s DGC 5080 XL combination steam oven, which can be used as a conventional oven, standalone steam oven or combination steam oven for steam and dry heat. Miele has also introduced the new entry-level CulinArt oven, and, whilst it’s not a steam oven as such, it does offer the option of a Moisture Plus programme, which uses fan heat and steam for baking and roasting.

Caple’s Sense SO109 is an advanced steam oven with powerful conventional fan-assisted oven and grill, along with 60 pre-set recipes that can be used to select the food type, weight and temperature. Siemens also has a number of suitable products, including the HB36D572B compact combination steam model and the HB25D5L2B steam oven.

Compact steam ovens are a popular choice for those looking to create a bank of sleek, streamlined appliances. CDA’s SV410 for instance, can be teamed with the company’s nine-function oven, compact combination microwave and coffee machine.

Rosalinda Buttice, Bosch brand manager, explains how their Exxcel HMT85DL53B compact steam oven is the perfect appliance for cooking delicious, healthy meals, “It features five steam levels, which can be used for steaming, reheating, defrosting and cleaning. Inside the 22 litre cavity, there are three levels for flexible cooking, along with 20 automatic programmes to cook meals to perfection.”

AEG’s ProCombi steam oven is another new product, which offers three steam cooking functions for all food types and an interactive control panel to provide constant feedback for the user. Baumatic’s portfolio includes the award-winning BCS460SS combi steam oven. Whilst Belling has not launched a dedicated steam oven, they have created the BI60i Eco Induction Oven, which has an induction hotplate in the main cavity of the oven. This means you can grill, roast and bake in fan mode as well as steam and slow cook in induction.

Hob cooking

Hobs are another way of introducing a more versatile approach to cooking, which can in turn produce healthier dishes. Gorenje has introduced three new hobs to its portfolio for 2012, which would be perfect for stir-fries or healthy homemade soup. The range includes the ITG623ASC, a 60cm mixed fuel hob that offers both gas and induction cooking. “This is the ideal choice for those who are new to induction and not yet ready to leave gas behind,” explains sales and marketing director Bill Miller.

Domino or modular hobs are another great way of adding a new fuel option to your worktop. De Dietrich’s DTE1068X is a 38cm teppan yaki, which is an extremely healthy, traditional Japanese method of grilling. The special plate can reach a temperature of 270˚C, which allows food to be grilled without oil or fat.

AEG has also launched a new teppan yaki, the HC452600EB, from the CrystalLine range, as Sophie Davidson, local product manager for built-in food preparation at Electrolux, explains, “This stainless steel Japanese-style teppan yaki is a multi-purpose cooking surface that offers real cooking flexibility. No need for pots and pans – it’s perfect for meat, fish or vegetables that can be quickly sealed, retaining their natural vitamins and juices.”

Small appliances

Countertop appliances can also help promote healthy cooking in the home. Tefal’s new ActiFry Plus fryer for instance offers a 20% larger capacity whilst still producing delicious chips with only 3% fat. According to Marina Wong, product manager for Groupe SEB UK, the ActiFry is the number one selling small kitchen appliance. “Both ActiFry models come with their own recipe book,” she says, “and the black ActiFry Plus even comes with the recipe book on a USB stick. It’s so versatile, you can cook a range of delicious, healthy meals such as curries, sausages and stir-fries.”

Another new product to market is the De’Longhi Rotofry fryer, which uses 50%  less oil. “It also includes easy drain patented technology,” says brand manager Kate Donohoe, “to help quickly and effortlessly drain oil from the fryer without any mess or fuss. As an alternative to frying, people have turned to grilling and baking, but for many, some foods such as chips, potato wedges or tempura can’t be perfectly crisp without frying.”

A unique feature of the AEG Powermix Silent blender is a patented sound reduction system which makes this powerful blender one of the quietest on the market. While today’s blenders work at an average of 85-95dB – that’s the same category as lawn mowers – the Powermix Silent operates at just 77dB.

Waring’s latest product is the WSM1U Soup Maker, which features a non-stick cooking plate with a 1000W rapid heating element that sautés, cooks and simmers. “Consumers can monitor every single ingredient that goes into their soup,” explains Waring’s category manager Helen Charlton, “to ensure it’s as nutritious as they want.”

Whirlpool has introduced a new limited edition MAX microwave in time for their 100-year anniversary with a green light to indicate when its 6th Sense steam function is in use. N

Sales tips

• Sales teams should understand the importance of combination steam ovens and the range of brands on offer. Make sure you have a working model on display and hold regular cooking demonstrations.

• Explain the benefits of steam cooking to the customer. Not only is it about healthy eating but it’s also about improving the taste and quality of everyday meals.

• Highlight the fact that a multifunctional steam oven can save the expense of buying a separate steam appliance on top of their regular oven.

• Demonstrate how easy these appliances are to use and how simple they are to clean.

• Prominent displays and PoS material will also help boost sales.

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