Understanding current foodservice trends & how technology can help kitchens adapt & thrive
Despite the challenges and the unknown of the past several years, the foodservice industry has proven resilient. However, it will never be the same moving forward, especially as technology, shifting consumer behavior, and changing economics continue to shake things up.
This begs the question: how can the foodservice industry adapt and thrive despite the many changes?
For foodservice operations to fully rebound and thrive in a post-COVID era, they need to understand ongoing trends, the challenges they present, and the tools for overcoming them.
To discover what those trends are and how to adapt to them using current innovations in tech, check out the article below.
Trend #1: Increased emphasis on health, nutrition, & wellness
Did you know that most consumers have health in mind these days while shopping for food? It’s true!
According to Statista, 64% of consumers regard healthfulness as a top factor to consider when buying food and beverages. The International Food Information Council Foundation also found that 51% of Millennials and 45% of Generation X search specifically for healthy and nutritious options while grocery shopping.
Here’s what that means for foodservice operations: they need to offer a larger variety of fresh, healthy food options that appeal to an increasingly large segment of health-conscious consumers.
But offering healthy food options isn’t enough. Foodservice operations also need to ensure that these choices stand out to customers as healthy. That’s where proper food labeling can make a huge difference.
If an item—whether it’s a grab-and-go tofu wrap or a bottle of kombucha—displays a label that suggests health, freshness, and longevity, then customers will feel more confident in buying it. Logos, branding, and color all go a long way in giving customers the feeling that they’re making a choice that benefits their health.
But customers today also need the facts, which is also where proper food labeling can help. If a label clearly displays nutritional information, ingredients, and allergens, then customers will likely trust it more. Colorful branding just isn’t enough.
These days, customers want the facts. Younger generations especially are much more likely to ask questions and do their research before buying goods.
So, give your customers the information they need to do their own research on the spot. Make sure your labels have clearly defined ingredients and nutritional boxes in addition to solid branding.
Trend #2: Online ordering & delivery continue to grow
In 2020, online food delivery took the world by storm. That’s because nearly 112 million Americans ordered food through online delivery services, which represents a 17% increase compared to 2019, according to Statista.
And even though 70% of customers prefer ordering directly from a restaurant instead of a third-party app or service, online orders continue to grow in popularity and volume.
To meet the customer demand for this increasingly popular service, foodservice operations need sophisticated tools for keeping orders organized and moving out the door. Integration between systems will prove key here. POS systems must integrate with third-party apps and other systems used in the kitchen to relay orders.
But that’s just the start. Foodservice staff will also need nimble, digital labeling systems to create unique labels that help orders stay organized. These labels need to include customer names, order numbers, item information, and—in some cases—tamper-evident marks to provide customers with an extra reassurance that their food is safe and ready to enjoy.
Trend #3: Takeout & curbside pickup remain timeless—and essential
While as many as 31% of Americans order through third-party delivery services at least twice each week, many customers prefer to pick up food directly through curbside pickup and takeout.
Why’s that? Well, several factors make curbside and takeout more appealing to customers. These factors include:
- Dislike for the companies behind third-party apps: Many customers prefer to keep more money in the pockets of the restaurants they love, which means cutting out the proverbial middleman (in this case, the third-party services). Third-party apps have received criticism for taking a disproportionate share of the money made from each order, and that doesn’t sit well with a lot of socially conscious consumers, especially among younger generations.
- Convenience: In many cases, it’s still easier and faster for customers to pick up the food themselves—especially in walkable communities with a high density of restaurants, such as New York and San Francisco. Giving customers the option to pick up the food themselves means lowering barriers that might otherwise discourage them from ordering.
- Lack of trust: According to NPR and US Foods, 30% of delivery drivers admitted to sampling the food they were tasked with delivering. And although the dependence on third-party delivery services in the early days of the pandemic outweighed the distrust, many customers were still anxious about the safety of their delivery food. This is where tamper-evident labels can go a long way in boosting customer confidence.
- Freshness: The longer food sits in delivery boxes and containers, the less palatable it becomes. For that reason, many customers will opt to pick up food themselves to retain the flavor and freshness.
Appealing to today’s customers means making it easy and convenient for them to get a hold of their food. Offering pickup and curbside options in addition to more common delivery apps and services can go a long way in nudging customers toward your business.
The fact of the matter is, if you’re not offering all these different ways to serve your customers, you’re missing out on business.
Trend #4: A rising emphasis on food safety
For a variety of reasons, food safety remains a persistent concern among customers—a trend the pandemic only accelerated.
According to the World Health Organization, over 600 million people around the planet (one out of every ten) suffer from illness each year after eating contaminated food. 420,000 die every year because of those illnesses turning severe.
So, what does that mean? Here’s the answer: There’s room for improvement when it comes to food safety. And that’s where doubling down on food labeling can help—both for front and back-of-house operations.
Right now, kitchens need quick, easy ways to track use-by, prepared-on, FIFO, and sell-by dates for everything from food prep ingredients to takeout and delivery orders. Food ingredients especially need to display detailed, accurate, and legible information that protects their freshness.
And on top of that, kitchens need a quick, easy way to transfer ingredient and nutritional information to food labels so that customers are aware of what they’re eating (and the allergen risks that go along with it).
While food labeling might seem like a small detail, it can make all the difference in reducing foodborne illnesses, limiting errors, protecting customer health, and limiting harmful press exposure that results from food safety violations. Avoiding these pitfalls requires investment in automated and integrated labeling and menu management systems that can create and print up-to-date, compressive food labels whenever needed.
Now that the DateCodeGenie automated labeling system can integrate with CulinarySuite menu management software, foodservice operations have their solution for efficient, accurate food labeling. To learn more about how the two systems work together to benefit kitchens, click here.
Trend #5: Automation helps foodservice operations accomplish more with less
As outlandish as it sounds, WorkMarket estimates that automation can save employees around two hours a day, which adds up to almost 240 hours per person per year. In other words, automation can help existing employees accomplish more work with less effort.
And with labor in high demand and short supply, foodservice operations must increasingly rely on technology that automates basic, repetitive tasks and functions, such as food labeling or even menu creation. By automating small, time-consuming tasks, automation gives employees the extra time to pursue tasks that have a greater impact on the bottom line—even if that means something as simple as providing better service to guests dining in-house.
In the end, automation isn’t about replacing people or eliminating jobs. It’s about helping people do their current jobs even better. Again, automation can give people the chance to do what they’re best at, which means providing memorable service or cooking amazing food that keeps customers coming back time and time again.
Because of how many labels they rely on for both front and back-of-house, food service operations—whether they’re restaurants, caterers, cafés, or cafeterias—can start affordably automating repetitive tasks by upgrading to an automated labeling system.
Besides saving employees time, automated labeling can help kitchens reduce errors, increase uniformity, and adhere to health and safety inspections with greater ease. Again, that’s where the DateCodeGenie and CulinarySuite menu management software provide affordable solutions. Click here to learn more.
Discover an integrated solution that meets today’s foodservice challenges
Are you ready to upgrade the efficiency of your operation? Click here to discover how the DateCodeGenie and CulinarySuite offer an integrated solution to the trends listed above.
You can also request a free product demo and take the first step toward creating a more resilient, adaptable, and efficient foodservice operation by heading over to our “Contact Us” page.
Fill out the form and let us know that you’re interested in learning more about the DateCodeGenie and CulinarySuite.
To discover more about the DateCodeGenie automated labeling system, visit ncco.com/date-code-genie.