For anyone lucky enough to have visited (or exhibited at) this year’s NRA Show in Chicago, you’ll be aware just how important this show is for predicting foodservice trends over the coming months. The show is huge (great for the fitbit count) and covers every aspect of the foodservice and hospitality industry, from global brands to clever, innovative start-ups. But it’s the seminar programme that offers real insight and gives a handle on what’s hot and what’s not in foodservice. I wasn’t lucky enough to get to the show this year, but feedback from various quarters indicates a number of trends that we need to take note of:
Adaptability is the current buzz word for casual dining brands – casual dining continues to grow apace but brands need to evolve in order to keep up with changing demands. Anticipating trends and adapting menus and branding to remain fresh and relevant is key.
Third party online ordering is another hot trend – the concept of growing your business through partnering with a third party, is catching on – witness the growth of Deliveroo in the UK. But it’s not without its challenges – just how far do you trust a third party to deliver your dishes in the best possible condition?
Many discussions at this year’s NRA focussed on Millennials – they expect the best quality, are hooked on customer service and have strong values in terms of sourcing (traceability), sustainability and health conscious habits. Building relationships with Millennials through social media is critical to their experience of the brand – and Chris Newcomb highlighted in his seminar that the experience of the brand is more important to this influential segment than food, quality and event price.
It’s also clear from the show feedback what a positive vibe there is in the foodservice/away from home sector currently, so much innovation, creativity and positivity can only make for a great year ahead.