Manufacturers are staying on top of the competitive grill market at this week’s National Hardware Show with the introduction of stylish models that cook more efficiently and steam food easily. Sources said without yearly improvements in performance and styling, it’s tough to survive in this established category. Nordic Ware, which made high-quality grills, was not able to reduce its costs or change styling or features on an ongoing basis, so it exited the full size business last year. Instead it is highlighting a best propane grill, among other products. “Functionally we made very good grills, but we didn’t make the cosmetic changes to meet the needs of consumers. You simply have to come out with new grills every year.”
The company is also advancing the Chef Centre grill it launched last year with a new version called the Chef Mate gourmet cooker, which has a multi-functional side burner. A Sunbeam spokesman said the new multi-functional cooker is the next generation of sideburners because it allows the consumer to cook steam or grill; whereas, the conventional side-burner only allows the user to cook or saute using a pot.
Thermos, another major player in the category, has a range of new products, having completely revamped its assortment into four lines that each offer specific consumer benefits. The electric grill line is aimed at consumers who want convenience. Features include a non-stick cooking grid, virtually no flare-up, no need for charcoal and gas and easy assembly. At the show, Thermos is unveiling two new electric grills priced below $299, making them affordable to the mass market. Last year, Thermos introduced a high-end electric grill with modern styling in the $300 price range. The best propane grill is designed to provide the strong cooking performance. To this end, the company’s newest gas grill has a high efficiency cooking system, which provides more uniform heat and improved flare-up control.
Thermos’ other gas grill lines are the Traditional and Limited. The Traditional line of gas grills is classified as value-oriented, while the Limited line has many different features for consumers serious about grilling. Char-Broil’s enhanced Professional Series line for 1994 also features improved cooking performance. Foremost among the features is Char-Broil’s Precision-Flame Cooking system, which provides a heating pattern so efficient that fewer BTUs are required to achieve and sustain the same cooking temperatures as grills with higher BTUs, according to the company. Visit http://bestpropanegrille.com/ to learn more.
New smokers are also on tap as they are seen as a complement to gas grills and offer a cooking method that can be enjoyed when the weather isn’t favorable for grilling, sources said. Following up on the success of its H20 Smokers, Char-Broil is adding an electric model to the line for 1994. The electric unit uses a UL-approved 1,500 watt heating element and can accommodate turkeys, hams and other large cuts of meat. In addition to its smoker function, Char-Broil’s unit is sectioned so it can easily convert to a small portable grill; it also acts as a steamer. Brinkmann also has new smokers under its Smoking Pit Professional Products as does Meco.
Referring to the new line, Brad Bartlett, senior vice president of marketing and advertising at Brinkmann, said, “The cooking principle is horizontal offset cooking where the firebox is placed on the side of the actual cooking chamber. So there is no direct heat under the food, which allows for real slow moist cooking.” Meanwhile, Weber-Stephen Products Co. is highlighting its range of charcoal and gas grills along with new barbecue accessories.
Conclusion: Barbecue grill manufacturers are introducing product refinements in both performance and styling to attract new customers in a highly competitive market. The pressure to provide new-looking products every year forces some manufacturers to make purely cosmetic changes to sound designs, while others seek to expand the features offered by their units. Among the improved features are better cooking efficiency and adaptations for smoking and steaming.