National Restaurant Association Show 2024

Restaurant Industry Outlook

As we approach the annual National Restaurant Association convention in Chicago, we take a look at the state of the foodservice and restaurant industry as it exists in 2024. While the pandemic shutdowns now seem a distant memory to some, the industry is still reeling from lost revenue, and a sea change that led to rising costs, staffing shortages, and continued rebuilding after a tumultuous few years.

Many of these problems are ongoing. The future is not bleak, however. In fact, many would say foodservice industry trends indicate the opposite. New tools and technologies – compliance tools, automated labeling, food safety traceability software and more – are being introduced to help mitigate the worst effects of staffing shortages, rising costs, and tightening budgets.

These technological and innovative trends for restaurants and kitchens include:

  • AI (Artificial Intelligence) in both the front and the back of the house
  • Track and Trace food safety traceability software
  • Kitchen management software
  • Mobile apps
  • Cloud-based label software

Let’s take a look at a few of these top technological advancements and new tools in the restaurant industry more in detail:

AI in the Foodservice Industry

It would be almost impossible not to have heard something about artificial intelligence over the past year – everywhere you turn it seems AI is being implemented.

More than just predictive text or playful app editing, AI offers real benefits to restaurants looking to address staffing shortages and boost efficiency. It is one of the most prominent foodservice industry trends of 2024 and shows no signs of slowing down.

AI is helping full-service, quick-service and delivery restaurants with:

  • Enhanced Customer Experience – Using mobile apps and online ordering platforms, self-service kiosks, digitized loyalty programs and more make ordering quick and easy, improving customer satisfaction and loyalty.
  • Improved Operational Efficiency – Automation, first and foremost, removes the burden of manual tasks from staff. It helps reduce manual labor, minimize errors, optimize resource allocation, manage inventory, and process orders, all of which lead to cost savings and improved profitability.
  • Adaptation and Innovation – As consumer tastes change quickly and dining trends are constantly coming and going, the ability to quickly adapt to changing customer demands by offering new features, pricing, menu items, and ordering methods.

Track and Trace Food Traceability Software

Food traceability allows restaurants to follow the movement of a food product and its ingredients through every step in the supply chain – backward and forward. This sort of traceability involves documenting and linking the production, processing, and distribution chain of food products and ingredients to ensure responsibility and accountability.

While this has been used in some form for years, there is renewed interest – and scrutiny – in recent years, led by a push for new regulations from the FDA (Food and Drug Administration) –

“The FDA Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) addresses the need for rapid and effective tracking and tracing of foods. FSMA section 204, Enhancing Tracking and Tracing of Food and Recordkeeping, instructs the FDA to develop additional recordkeeping requirements for certain food.”

Investing in tools to help manage tracking and traceability of food production as well as to-go and delivery food orders not only helps restaurants engage in responsible behavior, but also helps restaurants maintain a strong reputation with customers and proves that safety and transparency is a priority.

Software as a Service (SaaS) for label printing

Labeling prep ingredients by hand takes up important time and space – and can lead to errors when staff are working under pressure. Utilizing apps, like the DateCodeGenie app produced by NCCO, saves time, reduces waste that comes of error, and ultimately saves the enterprise money.

Automated cloud-based label software designed for the foodservice industry lets busy kitchens create FDA compliant nutrition and allergen labels, grab & go labels, prep labels with use-by dates, MRD (Make, Ready, Discard) labels, branding and more with the simple press of a button – and, most importantly, frees employees up to focus on other, more important tasks.


Support Your Restaurant Kitchen, Increase Labor Retention, and Give Your Bottom Line a Boost

By investing in food and beverage compliance tools and engaging with emerging technologies, restaurants of all types can stay ahead of labor shortages and give staff the support they need to help boost employee retention as well.

The biggest benefit – and the biggest pain point for many restaurants – is employee retention. Good help is hard to find. While automation certainly isn’t going to replace a great server or chef anytime soon (or ever), these investments can take the pressure off and lessen the burden of menial tasks when good help is hard to find.

New tools and technologies like cloud-based label software and food safety management systems, food and beverage compliance tools, kitchen management software and food safety traceability software are leading the charge.

Interested in learning more? Innovation solutions to foodservice problems is what NCCO does best, and we’re here to help your restaurant thrive in 2024 and beyond.

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