Before you buy your next bread slicer, there are a number of important questions to ask prior to making this investment. What’s your daily production volume? Loaf size? Hard crust vs. soft crust? Slice thickness? On-demand slicing vs. wholesale? And most important, what are the goals of your sliced bread program?
“It’s all about knowing your bread, knowing your customers and knowing what kind of in-store experience you’re looking to offer,” says Joe Gallagher, food equipment business leader for Oliver Packaging & Equipment Company.
For starters, a frame slicer is more suitable when you have a range of needs, while a variable thickness slicer does the job when you need to produce different slice thickness. Or perhaps you are looking for a self-service model to appeal to customers “who are looking for a premium assortment of bread but not looking for a relationship with the store,” says Gallagher.
Yvonne Johnson, director of marketing at Oliver, recommends that any retail bakery owner take a hard look at the bigger picture to plot your needs in a best-case scenario.
“They need to look at the big picture. Can this slicer do everything I want to do as I expand my product offerings?” she says. “Don’t buy based on what they are doing at this moment. Buy based on what they envision they want to do.”
Bakers sometimes overlook the fact that a new piece of equipment can catapult your operation into profitable new directions.
Retail bakeries, cafes and bread shops, for instance, may want to consider selling multiple types of sliced bread in one bag to appeal to customers, especially the growing number of single-person or smaller households in America, who want more variety but are less inclined to buy a whole loaf.
Offering three different sliced sourdoughs in one loaf is a great example of what may appeal to a lot of customers, Gallagher says. “The sky is the limit to reimagine how bread is sold,” he says. “Or make a sandwich with a certain kind of bread and offer a half loaf of the same bread for the customer to take home. Simple things like that can add a lot of breadth to the business.”
Variable Thickness Options
JAC-Machines recently unveiled a compact variable thickness slicer, which takes up less space than a frame slicer because of its vertical cutting system.
Paul Molyneux of JAC-Machines points out that slicer innovation has come a long way since the days of using a lever to push the bread through the slicer. The following are examples:
• no more exposed blades, as JAC slicers are supplied with an automatic safety cover
• state-of-the-art safety features, interlocking doors, safety covers and photo eye sensors
• much quieter than older models
• with customer self-service slicing a growing market, JAC has a range of self-service slicers including variable thickness models
Gallagher at Oliver says self-service is a growing trend, particularly among younger customers who are looking for a more fluid shopping experience.
New from Oliver, the SimpleSlice Pro-Serve and Self-Serve on-demand bread slicers easily slice up to 18-inch long loaves, the largest capacity in the industry. The Pro-Serve model is used by bakery staff, while the Self-Serve model offers consumers a simple and quick slicing experience.