New Zealand’s love affair with food has retailers seeing the opportunity in small format retail, with Foodstuffs North Island Fresh Collective brand the first foray from the largest players in the market. The second Fresh Collective by New World store has opened in Mt Albert, Auckland, with a focus on delivering fresh food with convenience, recognising that the way New Zealanders shop and cook has changed significantly.
“We are really excited about giving our customers a smaller grocery store that answers that question of ‘what will we eat tonight’,” owner-operator of the Fresh Collective in Mt Albert Steve McClean says. “There are plenty of fresh, take-home meal solutions.”
Restauranteurs have known for years how to capture people through the beauty and drama that can be created by putting food preparation on public display. The Fresh Collective concept has taken fresh food centre stage and made an extensive deli island the Mt Albert store’s focal point. Pizzas are pulled fresh from the pizza oven; the smell of hot chicken basted to order from the rotisserie mingles with the fresh bread from the bakery; while sushi is prepared in front of you. Delicatessen meats are sliced to the thinnest of requirements and specialty meat cuts and seafood are prepared to order. The team have even installed a dry aging case for meat – a staple in Italian stores due to its ability to develop deeper levels of flavour and tenderness.
“We are seeing more investment into smaller format stores with many New Zealand retailers hoping to bring alive a European feel in-store,” Managing Director of EcoChill Matthew Darby, says. “New Zealand has developed a real love and appreciation of food and people are looking to know more about what they are eating and how fresh it is.”
Understanding how important refrigeration is to delivering a fresh food experience, Foodstuffs partnered with EcoChill, who have delivered some of New Zealand’s first natural refrigerant solutions, to design, build and install the cooling systems at the Fresh Collective store in Mt Albert. Foodstuffs North Island commissioned New Zealand’s first Waterloop refrigeration system at the Alberton Ave store, installing cooling technology that is the first of its kind in the country. “We were really pleased with the solution that EcoChill was able to provide, which represents best-in-class technology,” Foodstuffs North Island’s GM Development Lindsay Rowles says. “It continues from our work together, delivering some of New Zealand’s firsts in natural refrigerant technology, particularly in CO2”.
The advanced cold architecture was designed by EcoChill using leading global retail refrigeration technology from Arneg.
The system uses a closed circuit of water to cool refrigerant at the cabinets and coolrooms in the store and uses up to 90% less refrigerant gas than a standard supermarket. And by using a dry cooler, instead of a traditional chiller, the Waterloop system provides energy savings of up to 30% over a conventional system.
“Consumers have a lot more knowledge about the food they are eating and if it is sustainable – part of that is they are also seeing what the stores are doing to be more environmentally friendly,” says Matthew Darby. “As people are more aware about refrigerant gases and the fact they are one of the biggest contributors to global warming, we are seeing more businesses looking at how their heating and cooling is effecting the environment.”
Arneg also supplied cabinets from the Belgrado range in the new format deli island, as who better to understand the needs of a fresh market approach than those whose Italian origins, history and love of food have made them a leading global provider of retail refrigeration solutions. Afinox provided meat drying aging and under bench chillers and Oscartielle hot and cold tower cabinets to complement the offer.
By using the Waterloop system and Arneg individual refrigerated cabinets, Fresh Collective have gained a new kind of flexibility provided by the ground-breaking solution, as layouts can be trialled and adapted for optimal flow. Moving around layouts with standard systems is costly and difficult, as they require the dismantling and rebuilding of refrigeration infrastructure. In the Waterloop system refrigeration fixtures are easily moved by simply extending the water and power supply. This was a benefit that has supported Fresh Collective’s innovative approach and means further development of the layout can be supported as customer preferences are understood. The whole refrigeration solution, from display cabinets to prep areas and cold rooms is monitored by a full high-level interface managed in partnership with RDM New Zealand.