After a turbulent 2020, there are really high hopes that 2021 will be a year of recovery for the food industry. While this is entirely possible, the pandemic is still set to have a profound impact on the food and beverage industry. So here is what the industry experts are predicting for the immediate future.
The latest restaurant trends show full-service restaurant operators have gone lean, fast. Forced closures and social distancing has pushed restaurateurs to rapidly reduce inventories in order to create menus that require less ingredients with fewer staff members. Menus also shifted to allow for take-away travel. While this may have been born out of necessity, it has also shown restaurant owners how to trim the fat off their offering, operate with less costs and still satisfy their customer’s needs. With this in mind, you can expect these trimmed-down menus to be around for some time to come.
Before the pandemic, 80% of full-service restaurant activities took place on site. But March 2020 changed all of that, forcing the industry to pivot. Now the focus has shifted to off-premises operations, with a strong focus on take-aways and deliveries. As well as to dark kitchens where multiple restaurants operate from one kitchen, white labeled for take away.
Here many customers are opting for meal kits from their favourite restaurants. Particularly with the millennial and Gen Z market who are asking for pre-measured ingredients that come with clear instructions, in order to make their favourite meals in the comfort of their own homes.
This subscription service refers to where customers sign up to get meals at various intervals in the month for either collection or delivery. Meal subscriptions are appealing because they come at a discounted rate. Many customers surveyed said they would sign up for this option if offered by their favourite eatery.
Getting on board with health and immunity
The pandemic forced the world to focus squarely on health. This attention has now seeped into food choices and more than ever, consumers are really caring about food that boosts their immunities. Resulting in ingredients like elderberry, probiotics, turmeric and moringa making their way into menus.
Last year the media was filled with coverage of outbreaks from food and meat at the production source. This has resulted in consumers looking very carefully at what they are eating and where it’s being made. This trend will continue into next year, with technology aiding in making food and manufacturing processes safer and more transparent.
New next-generation plant-based options
Over the past few years we’ve seen a major trend in the production of plant-based food. This trend is set to intensify in the coming year with experts predicting that manufacturers will find new ways to use these ingredients. Currently the plant-based production space is dominated by soy, pea and wheat protein but in the coming year we will see the introduction of other interesting ingredients like traditional berries, butterfly-pea flower and moringa.
Consumers have become even more interested in new and novel tastes. Due to lack of travel and less eating out, consumers are now looking for ways to introduce interesting flavours into home-cooked meals in order to get a bit of novelty and interest that would normally be found elsewhere.
Restaurant Industry Overview
The food industry was arguably the hardest hit during the Pandemic. Things are definitely on the mend but the knock-on effect will be seen in the way that trends that were already in the zeitgeist beforehand, will now be accelerated in the coming years. Most notably around the way restauranteurs operate, as well as with a strong focus on health and nutrition. This is actually an exciting time for those operating in the food industry, and for anyone able to embrace change, there could be many exciting opportunities in the mix.