After witnessing a global shut down, the Food & Beverage industry is getting back to its feet by adopting means to adhere to the new normal. With changing consumer needs and industry demands, companies, especially new-age start-ups, will have to base their offerings on the same and pivot from the existing services to the ones that will hold relevance.
The Rise & Rise of Ghost Kitchens
The future of food has become increasing take-out and delivery-heavy. This has given rise to fully operated ghost kitchen models or what people call “placeless” restaurants. Having just a kitchen cuts rentals, servers, furniture, electricity cost and much more. This way, the kitchens are able to serve you the best of the high-quality ingredients and dish out the best menus at lower costs.
Takeaway models have become the need of the hour to stay financially viable, especially amidst the new normal of “social distancing” norms. Restaurant layouts are also being planned or revised to accommodate delivery and takeout functions, including drive-in windows and curbside pickup. Third-party delivery will also remain a growing (and consolidating) player for an extended period of time.
Reduced Menus/Aspiring Home Chefs
The ‘simplicity’ trend is here to stay. The necessity of maintaining social distancing has led to many outlets having fewer staff in the kitchen to check overheads, leading to a reduced menu which is easier to maintain. Also, for guests, a smaller menu indicates more freshness. Chefs are altering the fine dining style to more simplified comfort food that is easily transported for takeout and delivery diners.
This surge in demand for home-cooked food has also given a boost to home chefs, local home cooks and bakers.
Outdoor Dining/Private Dining Pods
A lot of restaurants are seeking outdoor sitting permits with some setting out tables on sidewalks, in parking lots and alleys, and even on streets partially closed to traffic. There is also a rising trend of individual dining structures, also known as igloos, bubble tents, and domes. However, this trend seems temporary as it would be difficult to maintain these exclusive pod dining experiences, post the pandemic.
Go Digital: Contactless Menus, But Personal
Digital menus, payments, feedback are becoming the new normal. Restaurants are leveraging technology to effectively communicate with customers in the most contactless way. Besides QR codes, we may also see apps like OhWaiter that would connect tables to servers’ phones where they can communicate menu information, specials and suggestive sales, rather than just having the customer rely on a digital copy of a one-dimensional menu.
With work from home becoming the new norm, ‘ready/easy to cook’ kits have become extremely popular. Just pick one from the supermarket and the hassle of ‘what to cook’ is gone.
Packaging, Design and Labels
Labels and menu descriptors are getting more and more informative. It’s a product differentiator, especially at the times of shelf-shopping. Besides, food nutrition information and design aesthetics for food packaged companies, restaurants (dining/takeaway) are also moving towards sustainable packaging with respect to serving. Recyclable, minimal, sustainable and not containing hazardous chemicals packaging is the latest buzz. For instance, Diageo recently launched the Johnny Walker Black Label paper bottle, keeping in mind the latest trend.
Go Healthy: Nutrition Hacking, Immune Health & Functional Foods
There is a paradigm shift in food consumption towards healthy dishes, especially the younger generation which is more than keen to adopt vegan (plant-based food), gluten-free and protein-rich and nutritious-rich food lifestyle. In future, we will see more and more such products, especially specific ‘functional foods’, which would be more based on repositioning of products to include new health and label claims. For example, ingredients that provide immunity boosting, a beverage that also works as a sleep aid, and kombucha as a functional beverage. Along with this, there is an increasing penetration of food and beverage products that support immune health.
Also, there is a trend of curating ‘nutrition-packed’ food/meals that use specific ingredients to achieve individualised goals.
Ready to Cook Kits
With work from home becoming the new norm, ‘ready/easy to cook’ kits have become extremely popular. Just pick one from the supermarket and the hassle of ‘what to cook’ is gone. These kits come with a lot of variety, especially low carb meals. These meals have all the ingredients and give people the satisfaction of a safe home-cooked meal.
Spicing Up the Pantry
Speaking about new food products, this one is slowly gaining traction. With more and more meals being cooked at home, consumers are looking for a quick and easy way to spice up pantry with handcrafted shelf-stable sauces and spices.