Food Business – Current trends and the Biggest Challenge

If you are in the food business you must have been taken up with the growth the food service sector has been experiencing across the UK for several years, largely in restaurants, casual dining, quick service operators and a growing coffee culture.  The food service sector in fact did well in 2015 and the market research company, NPD Group UK forecast a growth rate of 1.5% for 2016.

In order to stay ahead of the game and cash in on the opportunities the industry is providing, know the current trends and the big challenge ahead.

Some restaurant trends such as saving customers money, exotic cuisine and food safety never go out of style. And here are some current trends that are here to stay and in fact will increase in importance with time.

  1. Sustainability will drive the business model

Sustainability will remain the top trend for 2016 and food businesses that embrace sustainability will do better. With the increasing push and support for green and sustainable practices from governments, authorities, service operators and customers, there is no getting away from adopting green practices. Green practices in general means reducing waste, whether it’s energy, refuse

or resources and serving sustainable food products.  Environmentally conscious and media savvy customers  who are well informed and do their homework before choosing a food business to patronise demand locally sourced, fresh, healthy  and sustainable food products. Businesses who adopt sustainable practices are rewarded with loyal patronage.

  1. Growing sophistication of the taste buds of customers

Customers are more educated and informed about their rights, choices and what’s good for them and the environment.  They use the social media and mobile to collect advice on where they should dine. While they want their taste buds to be tantalise with exotic and new cuisines, they are mindful and want to be served food that is fresh, less processed  and with fewer artificial ingredients. In fact organic food is quite the vogue now. It is not only healthy but good for the environment too.  Adapting your meal offers to their needs and habits is key to winning over potential customers.

  1. Social Media for Restaurants
    Gone are the days of depending only on pamphlets and a signboard in front of your shop. With growing numbers of eating outlets and media savvy customers who are spoilt for choice, social-media based marketing for your food business is very important and continues to grow and evolve.   Almost everyone google an eating outlet before starting their journey to satisfy their hunger pangs.  You need to put your business on facebook and twitter. Not only is the social media site used to locate you, but it is an opportunity to get reviews posted - ahem.. good ones that is!  You can even promote your special events and promotions on the site.
  1. Sustainability and Local Foods
    As part of the sustainable practices, more and more food businesses are buying local or even growing their own food  with garden allotments, on the rooftops or outsourcing to a local farmer. This is partly to go further on the sustainability route and partly to meet the growing demands of customers for local food. Customers   are increasingly aware of the source of their food  and featuring locally produced food on your menu will be an attraction
  1. Public Health Concerns
    With obesity on the rise, food businesses are under pressure to not only create healthier meals but smaller portions. We see more variety on the menu by way of varying portions, senior’s and kid’s meals. Kid’s meals are also becoming healthier with fruit packs instead of sugar laden pudding for dessert.

The biggest challenge

Food waste has been in the spotlight for quite a while now. Based on WRAP’s research, the cost of food being wasted yearly in the UK Hospitality & Foodservice sector is estimated to rise to £3.0bn in 2016. This is the equivalent of a quarter of the entire food procurement budget for the whole sector. More and more businesses are realising the benefits, especially to the environment and obviously the cost savings that food waste reduction brings. Businesses that employ and publicise their food waste reduction practices will definitely win patronage. There are ways and technology to help monitor and track food waste.

Food wastage is a significant and a natural occurrence in food business. The challenge is to recognise the opportunities available to remedy it and reap the benefits.