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Technomic’s take on what’s to come in 2021

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Digital innovation, championing of social causes and grasping new opportunities likely to feature in foodservice in 2021

At the end of this most unpredictable and disruptive of years, US market insight company Technomic has published a first report attempting to predict the big trends that the foodservice industry needs to keep an eye on for the next year.

Foodservice and hospitality businesses need to be agile and quick to act in the best of times; 2020 has pushed the entire sector to new limits and many business have closed their doors for good. For those that remain Technomic has predicted seven areas to watch out for:

Menu cleansing

The trend for a clean diet is expected to continue, potentially boosted by the pandemic. Diners were already focused on a purer free-from diet, and after the experience of the last year, this is expected to continue. Boosting immunity to stay healthy will be front of mind for many.

But menus will be cleansed in other ways too; operators will focus on optimization and making the menu work harder for them.

Investing in digital differentiation

Another by-product of the pandemic the push for advanced digital operations will speed up. Facial recognition along with touch-less and contactless ordering will be at the core of a safe and convenient experience for guests. App orders for curbside pick-up and delivery will continue the current upwards trajectory.

Revisiting the big three international hotspots

According to Technomic our current inability to travel will spark a  renewed interest in particular global culinary popular cuisines: Mexican, Chinese and Italian.

Social justice: beyond the buzzwords

A younger and more socially aware generation of diners will carry forward the campaigns for social equity that have accelerated in the past couple of years. Gen Z customers expect companies to act beyond the rhetoric of inclusion and diversity; following on from recent movements, including Black Lives Matter and MeToo, commitment from foodservice businesses to make a difference needs to be more than skin-deep.

New-mami flavor exploration

Every year brings buzz-word flavors and 2021 is no different. Technomic cites non-traditional fruit vinegars, new unfamiliar mushrooms, next level non-dairy “milks” such as corn and tamari sauce as some of the products expected to make waves in foodservice in the new year.

What will stay and what will go?

Dining concept hits of recent years – communal tables and food halls spring to mind – are likely to be cast aside for a while. A sector that was boosted by anything that empahsised social interaction is having to reckon with a new reality that sees operators enforcing social distancing and strict sanitation. Many brands have already come up with ingenious ways to incorporate new rules into their operations  in order to keep business going. With Covid-19 likely to linger for at least part of 2021, those operators unable to work around the Covid-secure rules might find it hard to stay in business.

An industry unleashed

The wider industry is still reeling from unprecendented disruption caused by the pandemic, but foodservice will now be loooking to the eventual recovery and those who make it through this challenging year will adapt a positive approach. There will be plenty of opportunities in the wake of a major crisis and the Technomic team predicts operators will stand ready to seize them.

Tina Nielsen