Steam up

02 Aug, 13

Could built-in steam ovens rival microwave sales?

Coming out of the commercial kitchen, steam ovens have found a natural home, well, actually in the home. And certainly over the past two to three years, sales of these appliances have found momentum and actually built up…dare I say…steam. Product manager of built-in hot appliance at Electrolux, Robbie Prestedge gives an insight into the popularity of steam ovens when he states: “Steam oven sales have more than doubled over the last year. The last year has seen steam ovens grow by 107%” However, he is keen to point out: “But even with such an increase in sales, steam only accounts for 1% of single oven volume in the UK.”

Increased availability

So, although far from mainstream, steam ovens sales are a growing and lucrative market. However, Joan Fraser, product development and training manager for Smeg UK, points out: “This is not all unexpected, as more manufacturers have extended their product portfolio to include steam ovens and steam oven combinations. This has resulted in a higher awareness of steam appliances which has, in turn, led to increased consumer demand.”

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Steam ovens have also been made more accessible as they have filtered down the market, from luxury products for the top-end into mid and even entry level. Danny Lay, sales director of Caple, concurs: “Steam ovens are available at more affordable prices, which makes them available to those who wouldn’t have previously considered them.”


Steam combi lead

With the array of steam models now available, from compact to combination models, what are proving the most popular? Neil Pooley of Miele says: “Combination steam ovens are the biggest growth area for Miele in terms of cooking.” And it’s easy to understand why. If a customer doesn’t have the space for a dedicated steam oven, having a steam function in an otherwise conventional oven provides additional benefits. 

And this added convenience may even rival the microwave for cooking convenience. Sales and marketing director of De Dietrich Kitchen Appliances, Richard Walker comments: “Our research highlights that up to 90% of the fresh foods placed in a microwave can be cooked, defrosted or reheated in a steam oven, and this is worth considering if promoting one or other appliance to customers on the shop floor.”  

Certainly the interest in steam cooking is at an all-time high and only likely to grow. Neil Pooley of Miele suggests his company expects to see double digit growth in steam oven sales. So now is the time to capitalise on consumer interest and get steamed up about these appliance sales.

The full article appeared in the September 2013 issue of Kitchens & Bathrooms News