The following is a Q&A with Carolyn Bilger, marketing director, Hobart Food Prep Equipment.

How can automated equipment address some labor challenges for instore delis?

Hobart offers its HS series portion scale slicers with an integrated scale that precisely slice and instantly weigh product, so it is faster to serve customers with the available labor. It eliminates the time for employees to walk between a slicer and a separate scale for weighing and it eliminates guesswork.

Hobart has its HS6-1PS manual slicer and the HS7-1PS automatic slicer available. The HS7-1PS slicer includes a SmartSlice function that speeds production of grab-and-go meats and cheeses. This function allows the slicer to operate until it reaches an employee-selected product weight. A Stack function pauses the slicer when it reaches a set product weight, allowing the operator to place deli paper before starting the machine again. The Stack function can be used until the product weight reaches 10 pounds and provides a more accurate means of pre-portioning product for retail delis offering grab-and-go packages of meats and cheeses.

Hobart has simplified cleaning of the portion scale slicers and also its HS series heavy-duty slicers so that it takes less time for employees to clean them. They feature a patented removable knife and top-mounted Borazon sharpening system that are both dishwasher safe, along with a tilting and removable carriage that is easy to clean.

What is different in labor/automation in 2024, compared to the last few years?

Hobart has seen an increase in food processor sales. This equipment, particularly the continuous-feed food processors, significantly reduces prep time for processing vegetables for various salads compared to manual cutting. This allows delis to put their available labor toward other tasks such as cleaning or improving the customer experience with quicker service.

Are there any innovative solutions that are not as well-known yet?

Later in 2024, Hobart will be introducing a chicken slicing tool for its FP250 and FP350 continuous-feed food processors. This tool slices more than 22 times faster than manually pulling chicken, so it helps maximize labor in addition to improving sanitation. Since employees can process the chicken faster, it remains at room temperature for a shorter amount of time. Delis can use the tool to slice rotisserie chicken or cooked chicken breast for take-home meals like enchiladas or chicken salad for the food service side of the business. It’s an excellent way to expand the prepared menu offerings. 

Commissary Insider

The Hobart FP300i floor model continuous-feed food processor can process fruits and vegetables at a rate of 88 pounds per hour, making it an excellent choice for commissary kitchens.

It can slice, grate, dice and shred, along with cutting julienne, slicing crimps and cutting French fries.

This machine speeds production since it has a large, full-size feed hopper that reduces the need for pre-cutting.

An exclusive de-coring screw deflects product away from the plate hub to ensure complete processing.

This article is an excerpt from the June 2024 issue of Supermarket Perimeter. You can read the entire Labor & Automation feature and more in the digital edition here.