High efficiency ranges have been available for over ten years and represent an important part of the frying scene. Introduced by the Dutch, almost all major manufacturers now claim to have a version. In a high efficiency system the burner works on a gas to air ratio which is perfectly maintained throughout the burning process. Other elements of the system ensure that the maximum heat is transferred to and retained at the pan. The result is over 90% efficiency compared with around 65% for a standard range.
Operators can expect to make substantial savings. At Hewigo we estimate, based on customers' actual experience, that these are 30% in fuel consumption, 40% in oil usage and 20% in raw materials. Add to this the reduced emission of waste gases and that purchasers can qualify for interest free loans from the Carbon Trust and you can see it's an attractive proposition.
Customers also benefit: When cold chips are put into the pan the drop in temperature of the oil is much less and the recovery time to optimum cooking temperature much quicker, so that the cooking time is at a higher average temperature and up to 40% quicker. Less oil is absorbed into the food leading to a tastier and healthier product.
There is of course a wider point. By offering this type of range, the industry is seen to be taking a responsible attitude to environmental protection. At a time when the fish and chip industry, indeed fast food in general, is often attacked by dieticians regarding the 'healthiness' of its products, it is a strong repost to make.
We are often quick to claim and promote, for example, that we use organically grown ingredients, source fish from replenishable stocks or provide gluten-free options. Yet not so quick to tell customers of our green credentials through energy saving initiatives or the reduction in emissions of ozone depleting gases.
A 30% cut in gas consumption at a time when fuel costs are predicted to rise by the same amount is something worth shouting about.
Of course it will not strike a chord with all customers but it will be very important to some. It is unlikely soon that we will see outlets called 'The Green Fryer' or 'Eco Chips' but it will grow in significance. Other industries are doing it: Most outlets will have a bottle cooler for soft drinks etc. This is an industry that is beginning to make great play of the energy efficiency of its cabinets and the large multi-national companies that provide the drinks are keen to show their environmental credentials. We should follow suit.
A final point. If you are going the high efficiency route ensure that the range you buy actually is. As mentioned the best high efficiency ranges operate above 90% efficiency and have certificates to prove it. Gastec approval for example, is recognised as the pinnacle of achievement. When claims are made, ask to see the certified evidence. Make sure that your range is properly serviced to maintain the highest levels of efficiency and waste gas output control. Your service engineer should use a gas analyser to do this. It's all part of the credibility factor.
Times are tough. We should use every weapon we have to defend, develop and market the industry.