What’s Next for Foodservice

Tuesday, August 24, 2021

Find out where we are and where we’re going.

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WHAT'S INSIDE

Chapter 1: Taking It All In

  • Welcome Back
  • Hospitality Cues
  • Safety and Sanitation Reign

Chapter 2: Community Counts

  • Protecting Customers and Employees
  • Keeping the Team Safe

Chapter 3: Off-Premise Rules

  • New Rules for Off-Premise
  • Menu at Work
  • Let It Be Seamless
  • Ghosts in the Works

Chapter 4: A New Kind of Customer

  • Serving the Post-COVID Customer Base
  • Coffee Breaks 2.0
  • Meal Kits and Family-Style Dining

Conclusion

Over the past 18 months, the COVID-19 pandemic changed everything it touched. What’s next as the foodservice industry recovers?

Lives were lost. Businesses closed. Sales evaporated in what surely has been the worst global crisis in over a century. For the food and beverage industry, survival has favored the most creative adaptations, many of which carved out uncharted territory. Operators learned to pivot to takeout and other business models.

Consumers came to expect new levels of convenience and transparency. And throughout it all, there was a new appreciation of the interconnected role played by communities and foodservice establishments, especially the employees who put their lives on the line and the customers who were there during the most difficult times.

Many lessons have been learned, including:

  • Doubling down on hospitality and safety
  • The importance of taking care of customers and employees
  • New models for takeout, delivery, and other off-premise service
  • Adjusting to a different customer base

In this report, read about some of the many challenges the industry faced, and the solutions that operators in every segment devised to keep their customers fed and their businesses afloat.

Data graph of 2021 pandemic labor shortages

Protecting the Community—Customers and Employees

One thing the pandemic revealed is the importance of people—the customers who supported their favorite places as well as the employees who put their lives on the line to serve them.

Events of the past year and a half—and the way local news and other media reported on them—seem to have created a wider awareness of the difficult realities of the food and beverage industry. Keeping customers safe during the pandemic has always been a priority, but many operators have also committed to their employees as a core value—reopening or bringing back more workers only when it was safe to do so for the staff.

Bellwether companies and forward-thinking independents have raised wages, worked with employees to help them secure unemployment benefits, and pivoted staff to everything from preparing meals for first responders to hosting pop-ups to making deliveries to keep them employed.

In addition, employers:

  • Supported mask mandate
  • Provided resources for vaccination
  • Changed tipping structures to make them more equitable.

Many observers and operators hope that addressing issues of worker equity, work-life balance, and keeping the happiness in food becomes one of the silver linings of the recovery.

data graph of 2021 how many people are now working from home

Serving the Post-COVID Customer Base

It’s a different world out there, for customers as well as food and beverage operators. The pandemic caused numerous consumer lifestyle changes that affect foodservice, from reliance on off-premise dining and more limited travel, to working and/or learning from home to actual physical relocations.

Building off the pent-up demand angle, restaurants are going to chase customers in ways they hadn’t before. New occasions will be up for grabs with fewer restaurants in the mix, especially concerning demographic shifts tied to COVID, like young families migrating from urban to suburban markets. Also, the expansion of digital outreach and how it’s enabled restaurants to introduce themselves to first-time users.

Substantial changes are afoot:

  • Millions of Americans moved out of cities to the suburbs and beyond
  • Many white-collar employees will continue to work from home
  • The definition of the“coffee break” is changing
  • Meal kits and family-style meals have become consumer mainstays

In addition, there has also been a fundamental shift in how many consumers view the interconnected role of food and health as a result of the pandemic. Staying healthy and living longer became a top wellness goal, with more focus on such concerns as immunity, stress, and gut health.

WHAT'S INSIDE

Chapter 1: Taking It All In

  • Welcome Back
  • Hospitality Cues
  • Safety and Sanitation Reign

Chapter 2: Community Counts

  • Protecting Customers and Employees
  • Keeping the Team Safe

Chapter 3: Off-Premise Rules

  • New Rules for Off-Premise
  • Menu at Work
  • Let It Be Seamless
  • Ghosts in the Works

Chapter 4: A New Kind of Customer

  • Serving the Post-COVID Customer Base
  • Coffee Breaks 2.0
  • Meal Kits and Family-Style Dining

Conclusion

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