Maybe it is time to paint a new vision for food service- for business, for schools, universities, and beyond?
There is an argument that the food sector possesses a model that is, at best, in need for change. Margins are low. Costs are under pressure and purchasing/price has long been the dominant force. However change is the air for a whole number of factors that are coming together.
It has long been known that the model is in need of change and the question has been that it needs a disruptive force to enter the market to create that change. It was assumed that this would most likely be a High Street player entering the market and being a disruptive force but the change is more likely to be driven by the consumer and the need for new enhanced services that meet the needs and demands of both the end-user.
So why is change beginning to take place?
- The end-user is driving the change, quite rightly, as they are changing themselves in terms of diet, eating styles and a desire for healthier options.
- Technology is supporting this change as today’s professional or student is able to measure their lifestyle with greater accuracy through the use of fitbits but also new developing technology. Sports players have long been used to be accountable for all that they eat and how they live their lives. This attitude is more spreading into both the professional classes but also in the young – at school and students – who are eating more plant based diets, being fitter, drinking less and being more responsible.
- There is an increased desire for communities and new services that help engender the feel of increased community. One can easily argue that in-house restaurants play a key and pivotal role in this regard.
- Mental health is an issue on the minds of many organisations and nutrition is a central pillar to helping mental health. It is something that we do talk a lot about – how we all know about how to exercise our bodies but we invest so little into our mental approach and mind-sets which is arguably is more important as success as is as much mental as much as physical.
The food service sector has arguably found itself in a place where it focuses on the changing patterns of the workforce on a daily basis – how many people work from home, spend variations, risk, the cost of X – but maybe the future is about enhanced services, creating and supporting communities and culture, increased technology in measuring health, enticing the home worker into the work place through greater value add. There needs to be a shift towards a strong proactive focus on the end-user and how food service plays a central and important role in their lives. This then, naturally, in turn changes the value of food service.
The food service sector is, in many ways, a truly remarkable sector – it adapts and handles every demand with impressive skill. However just maybe a new landscape is beginning to emerge and the need for change is becoming ever closer?