A Market in Transition
This morning over tasty breakfast at AVEQIA EP presented findings from recent research. The objectives set were to sense check trends and feedback recently received. This included the fundamental changes in the Food Service market with regards to new priorities, influences and thinking. As well as how the changes affects all markets – Hotels, Restaurants and Food Service.
A room full of consultants, associates and clients discussed their thoughts and perceptions.
The main points discussed during the breakfast:
- Hotels – There is a new view that a strong F&B offer is becoming increasing important within hotels which may increase room sales. Growth of the outsourcing model of working with partnerships with proven F&B operators that are experienced in attracting audiences.
- Technology is becoming increasingly important and the market is changing at pace.
- Food tastes are styles are rapidly changing to be in line with lifestyle and work changes.
- Rise of the Community Restaurant brings with it the independents vs. branded restaurants debate. The key is deemed design, ambience and food quality.
- Food sits today at the heart of lifestyle and work.
- Research will show that the average person in City Centre’s will eat out 2.4x per week with an average spend in the region of £12-14.
- Breakfast, access to meals all day and nutrition are the key trends for restaurants.
- There are genuine changes today in lifestyle that need to link to the workplace.
All food service propositions should therefore take into account:
Relaxed environments and ambience.
Nutrition and healthy foods as increased emphasis in personal fitness and sports.
Other key topics discussed were:
- Fitness – executives seeking increased sporting/fitness facilities linked to the work place to support daily routines.
- Executives also want to eat out socially twice a week within safe, relaxed environments have come to the fore. F&B source of interactive entertainment.
- Social interaction increasing to create better communication and informal problem solving.
- Mental health is becoming a vital issue.
- Are we going to return to the past with a 1 hour lunch break and a 9 to 5 working day?
- Key drivers include value for money, informality, the environment and ambience, speed of service, the welcome, indulgence, healthy eating and provenance.
- Restaurant concepts – light, grazing food, health focus, good selection of wine and cocktails, good special design, strong visual impact and great service ethic.
- Food Waste is becoming increasingly important.
- Allergies and the role the sector must play is also becoming very important.
- Does the model need to change as over the years the model has moved from a secure low margin business to a low margin business with increased risk?
- However if there is a return to larger restaurants and spaces, will this lead to increased turnover/spend? It was only a year ago the trend was to work within smaller and smaller spaces and be more retail focused.
Will increased restaurateurs enter the traditional space of the Food Service Company and vice versa?
Other points of discussion:
Healthy eating was considered on the whole an important factor for the future but MD’s are known to not ban Coke due to popularity and sometimes people crave the unhealthy quick and easy options.
Allergies were considered to have grown in huge numbers in recent times due to varying factors. However, a point was made that research had shown that there were less compared to 3 years ago. Possibly due to a rise in confidence that food providers are taking concerns into account or the increase in legislation and regulation. The counter was that some people may just choose not to visit certain food providers due to their allergies.
The growth of Grab and Go was discussed as it is considered a more adventurous option but is this due to the busier work day and the need to eat on the go. If employees are encouraged to take longer lunch breaks will this affect the rise of this concept. Trends are driven by demographics and how the under 35 act will drive many agendas because they are considered the future.
Healthy food is being produced by entrepreneurs but the current supply chains are restricting this access. Some companies are changing their food offering set-up to encourage street food and start-up businesses but despite the quality it is hard for them to break through on a larger scale.
Mental health is quietly becoming an essential topic for the future. With 1 in 4 suffering at some point in there lives with stress, depression, bipolar, anxiety and psychosis. The question was asked that if fitness is becoming so important why are companies not considering the mental health of their employees? The two do naturally go hand in hand. There has been a rise of sport participation in the country but solo which goes against the need for community and interaction many crave.
Caterers may appear too rigid and the client needs to put more pressure on. Models are changing and people do want genuine food concepts with multiple touch points. The debate goes on and includes where does commercial opportunities lie, regional vs. city and the need for multi-functional spaces. The counter for the last point is that caterers are brought on at too later stage and after the buildings have been constructed.
In regards to the fitness and well-being the idea of Fitbits for employees was debated as on one hand they do encourage a healthy lifestyle, but are they also intrusive from an employer? From a room of 25, 5 had or were using them. An example was given were companies gift employees who successfully reach healthiness targets. Every smart phone has the ability built in so do employers need to latch onto this technology? Competition could be encouraged between rival companies with winners receiving funds into a charity of their choice. The privacy issue is also linked to insurance premiums who could also monitor health levels.
A takeaway was should the food service sector respond to change or create the change?