What are the real costs of kitchen utensils?

A new survey* among resellers and end customers in the kitchen industry shows that the purchase price is the crucial factor when investing in new equipment for the commercial kitchen. But this is not always profitable in the long run.


Buying cheap can be costly

For the staff who use the production equipment in the kitchen on a daily basis, “user-friendliness” and “hygiene” are considered to be most important. Whereas retailers perceive the price as most important to the buyers.

In new buildings with kitchen facilities (eg offices and hospitals), it is often the property developer in collaboration with the architect who furnishes the commercial kitchens. However, in many cases, they do not have the background knowledge needed to assess which equipment is best to invest in.

As a result important features such as ergonomics, user-friendliness, hygiene, noise level and functionality may be downgraded. Therefore, price often ends up being the most important factor. The lower the number on the bottom line, the better. But it can actually cost up to 60% more in the long run to choose the cheapest alternative.

Assess the cost over the life of the machine

Price and quality are not always proportional. A cheap machine can be good – and an expensive machine may be poor. Therefore, it is a good idea to use the Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) method to compare different investments in new production equipment. TCO means that all costs must be considered in relation to the entire life of the machine.

In the figure you can see which factors usually come into play in the calculation:

Purchase price: the price paid to the reseller
Expected service life: how long is the equipment expected to be functional in the production kitchen
Energy consumption: the price of the daily consumption of gas or electricity in the expected service life
Disposal: the cost of disposing of used equipment
Maintenance: cost of service agreement, warranty period, repairs and spare parts.

It is also important to consider other factors that are not normally included in the TCO calculation:

Environmental impact and CO2 footprint

Check if the manufacturer has incorporated climate-friendly procedures and materials into the production. Is it possible to recycle all or part of the equipment? Is there a possibility of repairing and procuring spare parts that can mean longer life for the finished product?


Work environment

Good production equipment is designed to support a healthy working environment. Therefore, always examine, for example, noise level and ergonomics. Are user interfaces intuitive and user friendly? Are working positions correct? Heavy lifting and poor ergonomics can lead to work injuries and expensive costs for treatment and sick leave for the users of the equipment.


Food safety

Hygienic design is essential for food safety, as well-designed equipment prevents bacterial growth. Check if the production equipment meets current hygiene standards. Does the manufacturer have documentation on food contact materials? Also check how easy the equipment is to clean. It has an impact on the daily kitchen hygiene and work process.


The CE label

EU legislation prescribes CE marking. If production equipment is not CE marked, it will not be considered by purchasers at all. According to the legislation, it is up to the manufacturer’s own risk assessment whether the equipment complies with the Machinery Directive – and this allows for interpretation of the legislation. By introducing an auditing body, one could remove the responsibility from the manufacturer, and ensure that all manufacturers compete on the same parameters.

In conclusion, one can conclude that there are many factors beyond just the price that need to be considered before deciding to invest in new production equipment. While it may cost a little more up front, it may very well pay off in the long run.

Learn more about our products

Varimixer manufactures mixers based on in-depth knowledge of users’ needs and daily routines in professional kitchens and bakeries. See our products here

*Source: Survey by Katrine Dalgaard and Nina Gringer, DTU Food; Minka Hickman, Varimixer A/S; Alan Friis, Force Technology 2021