Food Prep Equipment Buyers: “Why the Heck Is Nemco So Expensive?”

Michelle Wibel, CFSP

Michelle Wibel, CFSP

CEO at Nemco Food Equipment
March 13, 2023

Fair Question. But the More Informative One Is, “Who’s Buying?

Let’s say a foodservice operator, ready to save labor on fresh food prep, does a quick online search for a Nemco commercial tomato slicer.

Sticker shock might not even be the right word—especially when competitive units appear right alongside Nemco for less than a quarter of the price.

Even if that operator suspects those demonstrably cheaper models are offshore imports (and it’s highly likely that they are), it’s understandable why the next question would be, “Is that enough to explain the price gap? Is the labor differential really that wide?”

Well, full disclosure, no. Nemco’s pricing is not completely tied up in the cost of its U.S. manufacturing. 

And, for that matter, not all imports are “junk.”

So, why is Nemco priced so much higher? And who, in spite of that, still thinks it’s worth paying so much more for Nemco? Because, after all, someone’s buying this stuff.

And that’s the key.

Clearly, Nemco is found in all kinds of commercial kitchens. But it’s no coincidence that many of those kitchens belong to today’s top 50 restaurant chains—places that have brand managers, menu developers, process engineers and other food marketing specialists who all have procurement influence.

This isn’t to say Nemco is only right for big, growth-minded foodservice corporates. But it is telling that when those buyers are specifying Nemco food equipment, they have several criteria in common that go beyond the kitchen task itself to address other factors relevant to their overall business goals.

Meeting those more strategic criteria is where the price differential starts to expand.

You don’t have to be a major chain to find or leverage the value of a Nemco product. But the best way to answer the question, “Why is Nemco so expensive?” is to frame it in terms of 3 underlying objectives so important to these enterprises.

Bottom line, chain or not, you should buy a Nemco if :

1. Your Food Prep Equipment’s Output Quality Matters

When choosing kitchen equipment, growth-driven foodservice brands place top priority on optimizing flavor, presentation, yield efficiency and—wait for it—consistency.

Unlike overseas suppliers that are generalized factories willing to build just about anything with whatever materials will effectively keep cost down, Nemco employs an engineering team dedicated to food applications and, then, specifies only industry-certified materials.

The result is the creation and production of original equipment designs (the very designs that the imports half-heartedly mimic) developed specifically to produce a cleaner cut, maximize yield and, in many instances, automate a labor intensive prep process that comes with some kind of exciting menu innovation.

In the end, those who pay so much more for Nemco are buying the precision to maintain the integrity of the food’s taste, appearance and nutritional value; the quality-and-speed combination to expand margin; and, on top of all that, the repeatability that’s absolutely necessary to build brand across locations and kitchen-staff experience levels.

2. Your Food Prep Equipment’s Life-Cycle Cost Matters

Without question, for many operators, cheaper equipment alternatives make sense. No one is passing judgment on, say, a start-up or any other kitchen in tight-budget survival mode. (Need we cite examples after 2020?)

Naturally, the decision to buy cheaper comes with trade-offs, however.

The materials, engineering and manufacturing costs built into a Nemco price—the kind of things that stabilize a pinion from breaking or ensure the push blocks won’t crash the blades—affirm a durability and performance longevity differential. 

It often takes three or more cheaper models to achieve the lifetime output of a single Nemco unit, such that the overall spend will outstrip the Nemco price.

Interestingly, when those cheaper models do fail, it’s well known in the industry that the manufacturers inherently direct their customers to Nemco for replacement parts—especially when it comes to the blades.

There’s a reason for that.

3. Your Food Prep Volume Matters

All of the points associated with number 2 above are compounded when productivity is intrinsic to the operation’s success.

If a kitchen is cutting 500 tomatoes a day, a low-price-point equipment unit might make sense.

Cutting 5,000 tomatoes a day? That kitchen is flirting with costly downtime and adding more replacement scenarios into the total cost equation.

Circling back to the operator in that online search moment, the question is, “How would I know any of this?”

And that brings in another reason why Nemco is priced so much higher. It’s reflective of the cost of employing consultative sales and service departments that focus on nothing but commercial kitchens all day, every day.

Those who pay more for Nemco are also buying applications expertise, faster human response to questions and troubleshooting, and 24-hour parts & service response that are all especially valuable to high-volume business operations.

It All Comes Down to Food Prep Equipment ROI

From national chain headquarters, all the way down to the back office of a serious growth-minded independent, Nemco is priced the way it is to serve them in their demand for a higher return on investment.

Pay more for Nemco? Yes. Achieve more to maximize long-term profitability? Also a resounding yes.