An in-depth look at foodservice trends in the next three years reveals significant challenges that lie ahead. As consumer tastes change, demand for increased specialization increases and technology introduces new innovative ways of handling finances; few can doubt that the industry will be reshaped in significant ways. Many of these transformations are already occurring, but they will become increasingly demanding and will lead to an overall restructuring of the nation’s foodservice industry.
Foodservice Trends to Consider
We are well aware that trends come and go. However, as a foodservice manufacturer, it’s imperative to pay attention to trends that may affect your bottom line. Let’s take a look at some foodservice trends that you need to pay attention to through 2020.
These foodservice trends will take place against a backdrop of increasing costs driven by increases in the minimum wage, labor shortages and higher benefit costs, particularly those relating to health care. Rises in commodity costs, regulatory fees, and transportation also will play a role, as will abnormal weather events.
Software solutions will help the foodservice industry become more efficient in dealing with the offset of rising costs. At the same time, the industry will face the challenge of demands for greater variety and transparency in food choices driven by changing tastes and a rising demand for value.
Rather than fear the changing trends, members of the foodservice industry should understand and adapt to them. By using them to their advantage, they will be able to grow and expand their services in new and innovative ways.
In a recent white paper, David Henkes of Technomic outlines what he sees as the vital forces that will transform the foodservice industry through 2020.
Here is a closer look at the trends that Henkes identifies.
Among the major changes in consumer choices that will shape food industry trends in the next few years is the move by consumers to make their food choices based on of health concerns. A growing number of consumers are seeking natural food that is free of preservatives, chemicals, and additives such as hormones and antibiotics. For them, these issues have become significant concerns.
At the same time, the industry is experiencing a demand for greater availability of ethnic food that consumers see as different and exciting. Higher-income urban consumers are demanding dining experiences that are not only convenient but also innovative.
Demand by consumers for food grown within about 150 miles of where they live is likely to continue to be among the key food industry trends through 2020. Sales for local foods in 2019 will be 66 percent above that for 2014, according to one estimate.
People believe food grown close to where they live is fresher, of higher quality, and more likely to be pesticide free and produced using sustainable farming methods.
Because they are their neighbors, the farmers are seen by many consumers as more likely to be socially responsible people who are concerned about quality.
The foodservice industry will need to adopt more and more to this new trend that will affect all aspects of the industry in a major way. Sourcing, purchasing, and marketing will be impacted the most, followed by menus, distribution, and general operations.
This evolving foodservice trend points to an increasing number of people demanding transparency, so they know what ingredients are in the food they are eating and how it affects them.
Consumers will tend to be suspicious of hidden ingredients put into their food without their knowing about them. They are concerned that additives not included in the menu descriptions or not disclosed in some way will affect them, particularly when it comes to allergies such as gluten.
Here, too, consumers are likely to want to know more about the ecological aspects of food production, including organic and sustainable farming, the humane treatment of animals, the hormones and antibiotics ingested, and the effects that this might have on their food.
As a result, menus are likely to have to include more information about the ingredients in each item, and food servers are likely to face more questions along these lines.
- Technology/Big Data
This trend is likely to work to the benefit of the industry if the foodservice manufacturers are prepared to take hold of it and use it to maximum advantage.
Increasing use of technology will enable such aspects as claim acquisition, payment of invoices and general streamlining of financial procedures to be processed more efficiently and more rapidly. The result will be cost savings that can offset rising costs in other areas.
The use of big data also will increasingly enable foodservice companies to track trends within the industry more accurately. They will be able to track more precisely what consumers are eating when they are eating it, and how tastes are changing. This information will enable better planning and more effective marketing. It will also assist in the production of a variety of products.
Consumers are becoming more polarized in their choices between what they perceive as value for money and their demands for service.
As food and labor costs edge upward, we will see rising prices passed on to consumers; the middle-income market will be less inclined to eat out. According to a recent Reuters survey, consumers ate out less frequently over three months earlier this year, following no growth last year.
Estimates are that consumers will either eat at home or tend to move toward eating out where they will spend less, but which they believe will still provide quality and therefore value for money. The challenge will be for the industry to balance pricing and profitability.
At the other end of the spectrum are higher earners who are not concerned about the cost of eating out when the quality of the food and the service is top-notch.
This polarization is set to continue, challenging the foodservice industry to cater to both ends of the spectrum.
As the industry changes, so are the ways of providing food likely to change. Some will cope with the rising forces of cost and demand for value by providing alternative ways of providing meals. Personal service and an enjoyable experience might get replaced with innovative alternatives such as snack boxes, advanced vending machines and home delivery of meal kits.
Being aware of trends that are happening in the foodservice industry will help manufacturers better forecast and prepare. Investing in a trade promotion management solution for trade optimization is a step in the right direction to getting visibility into what’s happening with your trade spend dollars. Trends can affect your growth and profits. Don’t miss opportunities to improve your bottom line – make sure you have access to the data that’s driving your business.