Heinz creates contactless sauce dispenser for Covid-wary diners

It was a common sight on the table of many restaurants from greasy spoon cafes to gourmet burger joints – but had to be removed amid fears it could help to spread coronavirus.

Heinz's new sauce dispenser is contactless.
Heinz's new sauce dispenser is contactless.

Now Heinz has created a contactless tomato ketchup dispenser, as cafes and restaurants shun putting a glass bottle of the traditional condiment on tables in a bid to stem the spread of the virus.

The company said that demand for individual pots of the iconic sauce – and other products such as mayonnaise and Barbecue Sauce had rocketed since the outbreak began and restaurants turned to takeaway service.

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Cafes which would usually put bottles of the sauce on their tables have removed them, amid fear that multiple people touching the bottle could spread the virus. Restaurants have opted for as contactless transactions as possible – with many replacing physical menus with apps, where diners can order for themselves using their own mobile phones. Meanwhile, cash payments have been outlawed in many restaurants and cafes – including most branches of coffee giant Starbucks – with venues preferring contactless card payments.

Dominic Lowdell, head of marketing for Heinz Foodservice, said: “Here at Heinz, we are committed to launching innovations that serve our consumers across the globe and meet their evolving needs including new flavours and equipment. The new contactless sauce dispensers have been created to meet a very real need by creating safer solutions for consumers who are dining out, and an affordable solution for any operator to purchase.

"In the UK, there has been a surge in individual portion usage to meet new hygiene regulations – the dispensers can be wall mounted and take under a minute to refill, saving time, reducing the amount of packaging used and without impacting storage. This year more than ever the hospitality industry has had to evolve, and we’re committed to continuing our innovation and product development pipeline to benefit the sector.”

Customers will be instructed to place a dish or takeaway pot under the sensor, and wait for a dollop of the sauce to appear.

Steph Hynds, manager of Snax Cafe on Buccleuch Street in Edinburgh, said: "It’s quite a clever idea. Before coronavirus, we would have had bottles of sauce on the table – we usually have caddies on each table than ave everything in them, but we had to take everything away. Now, we use single sachets, but if people take more than they need we can’t use them again, so we have to throw them away. I don’t know why people take eight sachets for one bacon roll, but they do and it means we waste a lot more than we use.”

She said that the dispensers could also prove popular with staff working quickly to produce takeaway food.

She said: “When we’re doing takeaway rolls we have big bottles of sauce at the prep station and it would be a lot quicker to use a dispenser. It would save us a lot of money as well as we’d waste so much less. I think it could work.”

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