This And That: The Market Forecast, Easy Energy Fixes

It’s summer, but as usual, we have too much going on to play much golf.

With our new President’s Preview E&S Market Forecast format set for a series of webinars August 14-17, we’re starting to seriously noodle the FER forecast. It’s going to be interesting, as we’re getting a lot of mixed messages.

The macro factors remain very positive. We had another month of strong jobs growth in June, income and consumer spending numbers are decent, consumer confidence is at cyclical highs, and gasoline prices are at near record lows. So why are people not eating out more? Sales and traffic indicators remain flat to slightly positive.

Many E&S manufacturers have complained about a sluggish, even negative market. But MAFSI said sales rose 3.3% first quarter. And our friend Mike Posternak, principal at PBAC & Associates, a spec-oriented rep in New York and New Jersey, calls it a “Goldilocks market: Not too hot or too cold.” And the NRA’s Restaurant Performance Index capital spending indicators remain strong. So, John Muldowney, our forecasting partner, principal at Clarity Marketing, and our official “research associate,” and I will just have to figure it out. We’ve done it before. And you can be part of the process by registering here for the forecast. I still think it’s going to be another decent year for the E&S market.

I was out to dinner on Saturday for our nephew’s bachelor party and saw something remarkable. In the men’s restroom, over the sinks, was an array of four lights. One was a CFL, one was an LED and two were traditional incandescents. I took a photo on my phone and sent it off to our friend Richard Young, v.p. of education for the Food Service Technology Center and a tireless advocate for the energy savings of LEDs. His comment: “We have more work to do.”

But as the folks at Arby’s will tell you, as detailed in our award-winning article last year on how they saved 20% on energy use in Arby’s Restaurants, it’s not just about energy, it’s about money. There are so many easy things you can suggest to your customers to help them save energy and money, from just turning off or ramping down equipment during slow times to load-shifting ice making to replacing warewashers with modern units that save 50% of water and energy use. Your strength as a partner with your customers is your knowledge of such things. Do it.

Finally, and by no means least, we’re gearing up for our ninth Multiunit Foodservice Equipment Symposium. The biennial meeting will be held January 27-29, 2018 at the Barton Creek Resort in Austin, Texas.  Our Editor-in-Chief Beth Lorenzini and Founding Editor Emeritus Brian Ward are already hard at work on the program. Our friends at Arby’s have agreed to do a live presentation on their energy-savings effort. We’ve scheduled a presentation from a consultant from the Lean Institute on how they are bringing Lean principles into the kitchen.  We have in-depth look at water in all its iterations in foodservice, and a presentation on the efforts to automate kitchen functions. There’s more to come.

We are really pleased that we have more dealers participating in MUFES this time around. We consider dealers suppliers, which means you need to be a customer of FER to get an invite. There’s still time. For details, send me an e-mail at

Have a great rest of the summer.    


Robin Signature

Robin Ashton


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