Modern Kitchen: What’s cooking?

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The modern cook wants many things – the versatility of being able to whip up easy suppers during a busy week and more adventurous meals at the weekend and timesaving features that make cooking and cleaning less of a chore. With this in mind, manufacturers are constantly developing new technologies that give traditional cooking appliances a whole new twist.
Market trends

Sales across the cooking sector are currently very positive, led mainly by the substantial new-build market as well as replacement sales. Cookers, hobs and hoods are the fastest growing sector in the domestic appliance industry. This is mostly due to the increased interest in experimental cooking and home improvement.

The built-in market in particular is showing signs of healthy growth. According to GfK, built-in ovens showed a 3.3% rise in volume in 2006 year-on-year accounting for 690 thousand units. Their value was also up 3.8%. Single models are still the most popular with 72% volume (+11.4%). Built-in hobs were up 1.7% in volume and 7.7% in value, with gas remaining the dominant fuel with 56% of the market, although interest in electric is on the up as induction becomes more popular. Cooker hoods meanwhile were up 2.9% in volume and 4.2% in value.

The freestanding cookers market didn’t fare so well with the overall volume down 4.9% and value down 3.6%. Gas cookers accounted for 41.3% of the market with 434 thousand units (down 5.2%) while electric cookers were down 5.9% in volume with 481 thousand units. Mixed fuel models were also down in volume by 0.3%.

Oven ready

Alexia Walker, marketing manager at Glen Dimplex Home Appliances, says that with recent technological advances, manufacturers have had to become more benefit driven in order to address the needs of today’s cook whilst appealing to both their taste and their pocket. “Multifunction ovens are right at the top of the modern cook’s wish list, followed closely by high speed cooking programmes, induction hobs and striking designer hoods that complete the professional look,” she confirms.

Stoves’ Genus built-in ovens are one example where the user can cook food up to four times faster than in a conventional oven. Whirlpool’s new Gallery range includes the AMW595 Speed oven, a traditional compact oven with multifunctional cooking options and microwave while Miele’s Navitronic sensor touch controls offer automatic programmes, which allow the user to select the food type they wish to cook then the oven calculates the correct temperature and cooking time. “Technological advances mean that cooking appliances now offer incredibly sophisticated cooking functions, which in turn provide the consumer with a host of user benefits,” says Neil Pooley, group product manager at Miele.

Fisher & Paykel has introduced a new range of multifunctional electric ovens, which it hopes will boost its cooking category in the UK. “The new range of ovens will enable us to sell into the replacement market with a selection of products radiating Fisher & Paykel styling and offering European sizing and functionality,” says general manager for marketing Mark Celik-Alvis.

Hobs and hoods

Induction is starting to make an impression on the hob market as consumers become aware of its benefits, which include speed, control, safety and energy efficiency. Richard Walker, sales and marketing director for FagorBrandt UK, says, “More consumers understand induction technology, which De Dietrich pioneered, and as it has become more ubiquitous in other manufacturers’ portfolios. For example Fagor offers an introduction to induction model, the iFF, 4R for less than £500.”

Demonstration is key to achieving sales. Miele’s KM 5773 model features the largest booster zone on the market with a 280mm diameter. It also has a sophisticated memory function, which can store up to five frequently used cooking sequences. Gas is still taking the majority of the market share with advanced options, such as wok and fish burners, becoming popular.

Cooker hoods have also become an essential kitchen feature and the latest models come in a variety of eyecatching designs including Whirlpool’s innovative AKR804 Evolution hood. New for this year, the re-circulating hood can double as a lighting feature and wouldn’t look out of place as a modern art installation.

Touch control hoods are also available, such as Hotpoint’s HTV93 angled metal version. Angled designs allow for easier access to the hob while creating a focal point in the kitchen. The latest technology is seen on the DHD597X ICS hood from De Dietrich, which features sensors that automatically detect steam from cooking on the hob beneath. Not only will it switch itself on, but it will regulate to the optimum extraction required.

Compact cooking appliances are also becoming popular, with Electrolux, Smeg and Siemens offering reduced height models. “People are no longer limiting themselves to just an oven and hob,” explains Jane Massey, brand manager for Siemens. “They prefer to select several compact appliances to suit their lifestyles.”

Steam and tabletop cooking

The trend for healthy eating is influencing sales of steam ovens. “As people become more health conscious, steam ovens are becoming more popular,” explains Bosch brand manager Ken Humphrey. “Customers are much more aware of how they work and are looking for this extra way of preparing food in their cooking appliances.” To keep up with the trend, Electrolux has launched the EOB98000 multifunction oven with steam, while Neff’s B8762 CircoSteam is a recent addition to its compact range. “Right now, steam is the biggest trend in built-in cooking appliances,” confirms Mike Jarrett, sales director for Neff. “Not only is it a healthier way to cook but it is also extremely versatile and highly energy efficient too.”

For customers who don’t have the room for a built-in version, Miele has the answer with its Vitasteam DG 1050 freestanding steam oven, which is ideal for worktop use. “The growth potential for this product is phenomenal,” says Neil Pooley, group product manager for Miele, “Built-in steam ovens are a considered purchase but with a freestanding steam oven you could make the sale ten minutes after your customer has walked through the door. Anyone who comes in for a new microwave could, with the right retailer product training, be converted to the benefits of cooking with steam. It’s essentially a cash and carry product – the customer buys it, takes it home and plugs it in.”

For a co-ordinated package, a built-in microwave is a must. Retailers who display a bank of matching appliances will boost sales, especially if they include a set of warming drawers and coffee machine.

When it comes to tabletop cooking, Belling has got it covered with its Baby Belling Pronto, a portable induction hob that comes with a glass lidded pan and cast iron griddle.

Technological developments

Convenience is king for today’s cook and speed is the keyword when selling both ovens and hobs. However, the customer needs to be made aware that quick cooking doesn’t have to compromise the taste. Stoves’ Genus oven for example will cook a succulent roast chicken in just 35 minutes without sacrificing flavour while LG’s SolarDom MP9482S microwave uses revolutionary radiant heat and halogen light cooking technology to cook food up to four times faster than a conventional microwave.

Samsung’s newly developed BT63 FDST Dual oven is a single oven that can be turned into a double at the flick of a switch. Gary Hearns, product manager for Samsung UK, says that the oven is meeting the needs of spaceconstrained consumers and those wanting greater flexibility in their cooking. “With this product you can cook two totally different meals at different temperatures, for different time durations with no transfer of flavours all in the space of a single oven.”

Freestanding or built-in

The built-in sector has seen faster growth than the freestanding market for some years. One of the key factors influencing its success is the increasing importance of style and design in the kitchen. Built-in appliances can be combined in such a way to make the very best of the space available without compromising on the overall look.

With this in mind, Rangemaster is the first manufacturer to launch a built-in range cooker. Freestyle has all the functions you would expect from a range cooker but with the modern look of a built-in oven.

Freestanding cookers remain a popular choice however, especially in the replacement market, as they are available in 500mm, 550mm and 600mm sizes so they can slot into any kitchen layout. Sovereign Appliance Marketing Ltd has launched a comprehensive range of 36 freestanding cookers in gas, electric and dual fuel to satisfy this demand.

Freestanding range cookers may have a traditional image but Falcon is turning this on its head by introducing a range cooker with full induction hob. Range cooker technology is certainly developing fast to keep up with the high-tech built-in market. Cannon has introduced the Precision Cooking System into its 60cm electric and dual fuel range cookers, which combines the latest electronic technology with specific oven functions such as three Profile Cook and Perfect Bake options. Profile Cook suggests the optimum temperature and duration for meat, poultry and fish dishes while Perfect Bake offers automated programmes for cakes and bread.

Design and styling

Appliances are becoming increasingly design-led with an innovative approach to the materials used. Dawn Stockell, brand and marketing manager for Electrolux Major Appliances says that for many customers, the kitchen is a statement of personal taste. “The look – whether professional, contemporary or traditional – is important, not least because the kitchen is where many of us now live, eat and entertain. To further enhance the designer looks of the new Insight range, Electrolux has introduced a sleek, slim light bar that spans the width of the appliance and is a feature on all Insight ovens and hoods.”

Stainless steel still accounts for 80% of all ovens sold in the UK, while satin steel offers the same look but with a fingerprint resistant finish. Colour may be making a comeback, as seen on Baumatic’s Dance Partners range, and would be best used to create a single focal point in the room.

Black glass is set to become the next big thing, particularly in the middle to top end of the market, with brands such as Miele introducing a range of co-ordinated products. Gorenje is staying one step ahead with its new range of designer appliances. The Ora-Ïto Collection is designed and autographed by the world-famous young designer Ora-Ïto. It’s being launched in two colour combinations – all black and black and silver.

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