5 Thoughts for Competing in Our Challenging Business Environment
Based on our "10 Observations from our Juicing Across America Tour" blog post and Recent European Travels
COVID has definitely changed the way we all work, travel, socialize, shop, get meals, and conduct business. Some trends have gotten stronger, while some entirely new trends and consumer behaviors have arisen due to COVID.
Earlier this year, to help kick-start the business and reconnect with our customers, we increased our travels. We’d like to share our findings and observations with you in this post:
- Juicing Across America Tour covering 25+ states and multiple industry events
- Visit with Citrocasa in Austria, in October 2021
- Visit to HOST Milan trade show in Italy, in October 2021
5 Thoughts for Competing in Our Challenging Business Environment:
- Recognize that specific trends and business challenges will long outlast the COVID crisis, so build in extra flexibility to deal with them
- Deliver outstanding customer experiences that are memorable and delight the senses
- Provide fresh, healthy, safe products to your customers
- Support efficiency with equipment solutions and training programs that help compensate for limited staffing and higher employee turnover
- Communicate (show & tell) to your customer base what you’re doing to innovate, provide a safe, clean work environment and supply high-quality food & beverages
JUICING ACROSS AMERICA
Starting in April 2021, Citrus America kicked off our Juicing Across America tour. We’ve been in 26 states and have participated in multiple industry events covering Grocery, Bars, Restaurants, and Hospitality. In addition to the industry events, we’ve also visited with long-time customers and met new potential customers.
We experienced first-hand that the USA is made up of many different geographies, climates, and economies. We encountered different accents, traffic patterns, and behaviors across the country. We were delighted to experience the determination nearly everyone we met showed to overcome the challenges we’re facing, with a focus on labor issues, logistics delays, and travel hurdles.
A number of trade shows and events in 2020 and 2021 were canceled. However, starting in June 2021 some trade shows and events still took place and we participated in them. In addition, we visited a number of customers and are extremely grateful that nobody canceled on us. In some situations, we made juice and gave demonstrations outside, while other customers were fully open for business and invited us in for meetings and juicing.
No matter where we were and who we met with, we tried to be as respectful and responsible as possible and would like to express our gratitude for everyone’s patience, understanding, and flexibility in having us as exhibitors, guests, and visitors. It’s been an amazing year in so many ways despite all the challenges we’ve all had to face.
Clearly, we all still need to eat and drink. In general, we all want to eat and drink great food. Most people are very actively trying to stay healthy but still want to have great experiences.
NIGHTCLUB & BAR SHOW
The Night Club & Bar Show (NCBS) was an amazing event. It seems so long ago, but just five months ago, back in June 2021, this was one of the first industry events to take place in the post-vaccine environment. This was an extremely exciting event with a lot of great customers looking for innovative solutions to help them run their operations more profitably and successfully.r
THE NGA GROCERY INDUSTRY EVENT
One great seminar at the National Grocery’s Association (NGA) event focused on five (5) critical themes grocery stores are facing today:
- Health – delivering healthy products to customers
- Personalization – delivering more personalized products and experiences to customers
- Digital – providing digital solutions and options to customers and leveraging data
- Innovation – continue to drive forward on innovative products and business models
- Transparency – be highly transparent with customers about nutrition, ingredients, environmental impact, worker safety
We had some amazing discussions on the trade show floor with existing customers and we also met some new customers, who are just getting into juicing. It’s always great to meet customers personally and hear about their experiences and get direct feedback and, naturally, we’re delighted to welcome new customers into the world of juicing.
In addition to participating in the trade show and the executive event, Citrus America had a great time making fresh juice for the Women Grocers of America (WGA) at their early morning poolside wake-up yoga event. This was an awesome outside event, which took place at the base of the Eiffel Tower – the one located in Las Vegas!
In addition to these topics, multiple reports coming from highly respected consultants, such as Deloitte and McKinsey, have focused on important topics that have gained in importance and accelerated due to COVID. Some of these topics are very generationally driven, while other topics cut across generations and represent opportunities for retailers to capitalize on
HOTEL EVENTS IN FLORIDA & VISITS ACROSS THE COUNTRY
Staffing for hotels has reached crisis levels with some of our customers. Despite major increases in wages, some of our customers are having real challenges hiring the staff necessary. These labor shortages are forcing them to re-think how to provide basic housekeeping services and how to still provide outstanding customer experiences to their guests.
Nevertheless, some hotels are implementing fresh juice and craft cocktail strategies which leverage fresh ingredients, especially freshly squeezed citrus juice. We’re grateful for their business and delighted to be able to help them offer fresh juice and up their cocktail game.
VISITING CITROCASA IN AUSTRIA
In visiting with the Citrocasa engineers in Austria, we discussed some of the highly exciting trends they’re experiencing across the globe. There is increasing demand for efficiency, which is driven by labor challenges across all the continents. In addition, there is heightened awareness around hygiene and safety, driven by COVID-related issues. We have many Citrocasa customers in different countries that are demanding solutions that support increased hygiene and efficiency and Citrocasa continues to be the global segment leader in terms of quality and innovation.
This was a global meeting with juicing experts from around the world gathering to share our collective learnings on how to provide our customers with world-class solutions and the best in commercial juicing equipment. We discussed some of the most exciting juicing and cocktail trends from around the planet.
ORANGES: We discussed orange types and sizing from different countries. We compared notes on our own benchmarking studies documenting that Citrocasa juicers deliver juice with the lowest peel oil and best tasting juice with our unique Up & Down Soft Cut System. We specifically discussed some of our original lab studies from 2011 and that we continue to experience similar results juicing across different countries with a range of customers.
POMEGRANATES: In addition to citrus fruit, Citrocasa presented some exciting facts about pomegranates and juicing. There was a presentation on pomegranates and their history. Pomegranate growth has been incredible over the past 10 years and it’s clearly a superfood. We discussed successful strategies some of our customers are implementing for great success in juicing pomegranates.
COCKTAILS: We shared our own experiences in North America with being pioneers in the Craft Cocktail segment. Our own experience is that no other citrus juicer does as good a job consistently and reliably in juicing lemons and limes as the Citrocasa juicer. We shared different customer stories where they were able to reduce labor costs associated with juicing limes, in Mexican restaurants, for example, by approximately 80% (from five hours down to one hour) by switching from manually cutting and squeezing limes to automatic juicing on a Fantastic M/AS juicer using a Small Pressing Kit (SPK).
TRAINING, SUPPORT, AND HYGIENE: We were able to compare best practices in terms of training, processes, and cleaning materials to help support the most hygienic on-premise, on-demand citrus juicing strategies. In many cases, the experts in the room have been involved in the juicing business for more than a decade, with some experts being in juicing for more than 20 years. We had in-depth discussions about 304 Food Grade Stainless Steel and the multiple innovations on the Citrocasa juicers that support hygiene.
We talked about the challenges all grocery stores, restaurants, and hotels are having with labor and providing training to their employees.
HOST MILAN TRADE SHOW
The HOST Milan Show is an incredible industry trade show to visit if you’re a professional ‘Foodie’. The show is focused on what’s referred to in Europe as HoReCa, or the HOtel/REstaurant/CAfé segment. The trade show had more than 1,100 different exhibitors from around the globe and filled up multiple buildings.
In visiting the HOST Show in Milan, Italy, we were able to see the latest in equipment technology and innovation across a range of segments. In addition to experiencing the latest in equipment, we were also very fortunate to experience some amazing displays of fresh pasta, dried and smoked meats, unbelievable pizza, amazing cheeses, incredible bread, astounding pastries, delicious gelato, and stellar coffees.
GLOBAL TRAVEL, LOCAL EXPERIENCES, DECADES OF EXPERTISE
In our own experiences and in speaking with customers, suppliers, and industry colleagues we’ve heard a lot of common themes. It doesn’t matter if we were participating in industry events, visiting with customers in the USA, speaking with end-consumers, or sharing best practices with our global colleagues, there are many overlapping topics.
As travelers ourselves, we experienced different regulations, labor shortages, early restaurant closures, travel delays, and a range of other travel challenges made worse by COVID.
All around the world, grocery stores, hotels, and restaurants are being confronted with supply chain shocks, high staff turnover, limited labor resources, and are facing increased regulatory hurdles focused on hygiene and worker safety. At the same time, consumers are demanding fresh, tasty food while simultaneously becoming even more aware of health, hygiene, and safety.
The companies that do the best in managing these topics and addressing customer needs will certainly outperform the companies that are overwhelmed by them and don’t adapt to today’s realities.
HOW CITRUS AMERICA CAN HELP
We’re very focused on providing fresh commercial juicing solutions that provide the best taste, are extremely safe and hygienic, and are very efficient to use. Consumers want to have great experiences when they go shopping, go out for dinner, travel, or go out to a bar. We help drive solutions that help our customers deliver amazingly fresh experiences to the consumer.
Key trends, such as healthy living, transparency, fresh and natural, are all supported by well-run fresh citrus juicing programs. Nothing communicates freshness to the consumer more than preparing fresh food right in front of them: freshly baked goods, freshly made salsa or guacamole, freshly cut fruit, freshly shaken cocktails just to name a few.
We’re committed to helping our customers earn Healthy Profits from Citrus Juicing.
Click below to schedule a FREE 30-minute consultation with one of our juicing experts.
About Citrus America– Citrus America has been driving innovation and quality in the juicing segment for more than a decade in North America and the Caribbean. We’re the exclusive master distributor for Citrocasa and have driven many innovations and quality improvements in juicing equipment. In addition to equipment solutions, we provide tailored training and support strategies to help our customers earn Healthy Profits.
About Citrocasa – Citrocasa has been the pioneer in producing the most innovative and highest quality food grade stainless steel commercial citrus juicing equipment to the grocery, hotel and restaurant since 2005 across Europe. The Citrocasa 8000 Series was launched in 2005, with the 8000XB and the 8000SB. The 8000SB-ATS was launched in 2013. The Citrocasa Fantastic Series was launched in 2010 with the Fantastic M/AS. The Fantastic F/SB followed in 2011.