A cook making a salad

Future Trends in Food Service

In early December, MarketWatch released a report on the Global Food Service Restaurant Market and covered everything from growth analysis to industry trends and future development. One especially interesting detail included was COVID-19 impact on the overall industry, including full-service restaurants, quick-service restaurants, cafes and bars, and 100% home delivery. While the report didn’t touch on hotels or the hospitality industry, it attempted to make broad predictions and assessments about the way the food service industry overall was affected by Coronavirus.

If you’d have asked a futurist a year ago their predictions for the food industry in 2021, they’d likely have spoken about emerging tastes, textures, and the next of the moment condiments from abroad. They might even have extolled the virtues of techniques that would have sped up the process or kept food fresh longer. What a difference a year makes, even in terms of long-term predictions.

As we now realize from this vantage point, the global food service industry will change most drastically in the years ahead because of the lingering effects of a worldwide pandemic. This means that beyond understanding that hotels, restaurants, bars, and larger venues must change the way food is produced and distributed, we also have to look into the longer-term ways we will keep staff safe and connected throughout the process.

These are some of the trends we think you can expect in food service in the near future:

  • A more streamlined service network: Alexandra M. (who chose not to reveal her last name here for professional purposes) has worked in food service production and management for over a decade. She explained that the foodservice production areas aren’t centralized in hotels, but rather “there’s this massive service network all over the place.” That meant that staff had to walk through kitchens and hallways and elevators and other areas simply to retrieve and then deliver food to the dining rooms, rooms or anyplace else food could be consumed.

Foodservice trend prediction: We believe that as restaurants, hotels, and larger venues consider reopening in the future, there will be small satellite kitchens or food service production areas. This way, they can minimize both ingredients and prepared food, potentially becoming tainted or coming into contact with too many people or being exposed to needlessly.

  • Better cleaning protocols: A food service executive who chose to remain anonymous said that in the not-so-distant past, food service trays were rarely (if ever) disinfected and cleaned only once or twice daily before being reused repeatedly. With many restaurants still only open for takeout, food service production experts are brainstorming ways to create a safer process overall for producing and distributing food.

Foodservice trend prediction: While most consumer-facing industries are completely overhauling how they connect and serve their clientele, food service production has an even greater challenge. This industry must create universal methods and requirements of keeping all places of food production disinfected while also creating the reverse of touchpoints. Instead of finding ways to connect with their clientele and guests, they’ll have to develop rigid ways of maintaining the utmost cleanliness in all public areas of their workspace.

“To avoid food contamination, food service workers will have to communicate at lightning-fast speeds.”

  • A radically updated communication system (hint: new walkie talkies are a must!): Alexandra explained that walkie talkies were essential to anyone’s working life in food services. She was also “grossed out every single time she picked one up” when her shift began. Since these mobile devices were generally shared by staff and rarely cleaned, “they were almost filthy and grimy.” Interestingly enough, Alexandra had no idea that better options existed. We recently shared five signs that it was time to ditch your old-school walkie talkies. We probably should have added a sixth reason. It’s time to ditch your old-school walkie talkies if you share them within your crew or team. At this point, it isn’t about having a gadget that’s cooler than the competition; it’s a potential health hazard to use the same walkie talkie that is shared throughout your team of workers.

Foodservice trend prediction: What good is it to continually disinfect your work environment if the device you use and share and then share again might be carrying germs – or worse – from employee to employee? We predict that as more food service companies understand that it’s easier to overhaul their walkie talkie system than pray for the best, more will implement modern systems like Relay. You can also customize your setup based on your staff or need. Relay provides a walkie talkie alternative that allows you to create customized groups, as well as private one-on-one conversations. You can easily limit access to some while granting it to others.

  • Plant-based food production increase: While vegetarians and vegans were once looked at askance when asking for special meals, plant-based food production is one of the fastest growing micro-industries within the food service production space. IndustryResearch.com published a paper in November 2020 detailing some of the ways in which global plant-based food will be developed, sourced, produced, marketed, and distributed.

Foodservice trend prediction: Unlike more shelf-stable ingredients, plant-based food has to be stored and shipped differently for optimum freshness and taste. That also means that the food service industry will have to closely monitor any growing issues or reports by the CDC about potential recalls. This means that to avoid food contamination, food service workers will have to communicate at lightning-fast speeds. As plant-based foods become a standard on all menus, food service staff will have to immediately inform each other if there are ever any potential issues.

Relay is the first real-time communications solution specifically designed for the desk-less worker and used by hotels, resorts, and event venues across the country. Contact us to set up a live demo.

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