Is there light at the end of the tunnel?...... the Vaccine has landed, but what does that mean for our hospitality industry?
Lock down, No lock down…… restaurants, bars, events all shut down, but yet….. supermarkets, malls, dentists, car washes, all open, .... what classifies and essential?
People have to eat, supermarkets are classified as essential, but in this day and age, how many people know how to cook for themselves?...... it’s interesting to walk around the supermarket to watch how people shop during this pandemic, so many people completely uncertain on how to shop for cooking at home, people walking around with a cell phone in hand looking online at recipes for what to buy, looking at ingredients online, what actually is it? they say ...... I guess a silver lining would be that people are now educating themselves on food, the how, what, when and where….. will that mean a more diverse appreciation for our business, what it takes to prepare, plan, execute, service and put food in front of someone? …… I’m thinking so.
BUT …..it begs the question…… why are restaurants not classified as essential?
It’s essential that people eat to stay healthy and alive, Healthy, how about all those fast-food drive through restaurants where during normal times you might see 4, 5 maybe 7 cars lined up waiting at the drive through…… now we see so many more, a local fast food chicken chain close to me, I see 30, 40, 50 cars zig-zagged through their neighbors parking lot, waiting to get through that drive through, what does that tell you…. people do not want to, some people do not have the time to, and or the patience to cook at home.
Again, if you can walk though an indoor mall, why can you not sit in an indoor / outdoor restaurant all be it with the correct measures in place? Why?
How do we look forward to 2021……
Overnight, the pandemic has turned the entire food industry upside down, deliveries, take-out, contactless purchases, sanitizing protocols….. and many more substantial changes than that, so, what is the real impact, and what does the future hold for our food industry?
The entire food and beverage (F&B) industry, including retailers, suppliers, farmers, producers are now operating very differently than they did some 6-8 months ago. The pandemic has brought immense shifts in what we do, top to bottom, and perhaps most importantly, also turned consumer preferences upside down.
To accommodate all these protocols and preferences, some of us have stepped up to innovate in attempts to survive, many others just cannot survive, the notion of ever going back to the norm, back to the way it was, its almost gone as we think about how many of these newly introduced procedures will stick around for the long term.
Moving into 2021, hopefully post COVID, what will be the main trends and traits defining the food industry as a whole?
The pandemic brought radical changes to our everyday lives, and it’s clear that many of the newly adopted behaviors won’t disappear overnight.
Every crisis, past & present has always sparked innovation, and the food industry has certainly been a part of that. Innovation & technology has played an important role enabling interactions that would otherwise be impossible, these processes are likely to stick around well beyond the latest Pandemic.
Due to consumer hyper-awareness of safety and sanitation, the whole food industry will continue to be defined by safety practices, so many people are now more careful about washing unpackaged fruit and vegetables than before the pandemic.
Online Grocery Shopping, some out of necessity, has gained popularity, will be here for the long term and will only grow and engage new demographics.
Even though COVID-19 is transmitted through airborne respiratory droplets, and the risk of contracting the virus through food is low, people around the world are concerned about that very possibility.
What has to be address is the problem with the so called underground house parties, non socially distanced protests, unmasked street carol singing gatherings, unnecessary air travel….. just to mention a few.
The restaurant market amongst many others has been one of the direct victims of this pandemic but has shown impressive elasticity in adapting to the new regulations and realities, but after fighting to stay afloat and spending hard earned money to meet these constant changing rules, keep getting knocked back by local government authorities implementing further restrictions and lockdowns.
Many businesses have introduced service extensions such as deliveries and take-outs, enjoying some level of popularity and success, these options will stick around far beyond the pandemic.
Therefore, restaurants are likely to continue diversifying their services, experiment with different dining options, even luxurious in-home chef visit experiences as an alternative to high-end restaurant dining, but many will just close the doors and cease to operate.
It’s clear that the future of the F&B industry will be significantly marked by this pandemic. Its prolonged nature will also cause the recently adopted habits to become further solidified—and many processes will have to adapt to match them. Businesses are working hard to make these habits as efficient as conveniently possible, making it unlikely that such investments would be erased overnight once COVID-19 is no longer a threat.
So where do we go in 2021?