To borrow a term from Latin, nothing describes 2020 better than “Annus Horribilis.” COVID-19 caused major turmoil across various industries worldwide, particularly in the food and beverage industry.
But despite the outbreak causing several offline food chains to entirely shut down and supply chains to be disrupted, online food deliveries became trendy, and businesses concentrated in packaged food and beverages witnessed a surge in demand.
As another year starts with the promising hope that COVID-19 cases would subside with the availability of vaccines worldwide, let us see what is in store for the food and beverage industry this year.
Maintaining Safety and Health Standards
Most of 2020 was plunged into Coronavirus, and as the new year rolls in, there is no sign yet that any time soon, this pandemic would dwindle. But as we can use our “crisis mode” strategies for long-term solutions, we will see more health and safety measures put up by businesses in the food and beverage sector.
Consumers are all the more concerned about sanitation. Details such as how their food was handled and who handled their food are now major areas of scrutiny.
Transparency Is Critical
In line with the growing concern of consumers as to safety and health standards observed by their preferred food and beverage merchants, transparency has clearly become more critical. According to a recent survey, six out of ten consumers wanted to know more about the origin of their food.
The condition brought by COVID-19 not only caused problems on the supply and logistics aspect of food and beverage businesses, but it also paved the way for “food criminals.”
The surge in demand disrupted the supply chain, and the economic downturn meant people wanted to put food on their tables and shelves as cheaply as possible. This scenario makes a perfect concoction for cunning operators to move in. Since the outbreak, much staple food has been subjected to adulteration, including honey, meat, and sage.
Because of this problem, consumers are more vigilant now in making their purchases. They are concerned about how their food is prepared and how the people who prepared their food are treated.
The threat of COVID-19 is real, so transparency is the key for businesses in the food and beverage sector to garner and keep loyal customers.
Ghost Kitchens and Contactless Service
Even with vaccine rollouts, ghost kitchens and online food delivery services will continue to be a hit in 2021 and even beyond. The omnichannel distribution will continue to rise as consumers have more access to eat what they want, whenever they want, and wherever they want it.
Nowadays, it is super convenient to order different items from different venues. Say you want to order a burger and ice cream, but another person wants to order pizza. You could have all delivered on the same tab with the same delivery service.
Restaurants are also finding ways to bring in dine-in taste at home as there are people who are still hesitant about the traditional dining experience. Meal kits and starter kits provide not only a convenience for consumers but also a new and richer experience.
Along with this, seamless tech solutions such as touchless pickup and payment are here to stay.
Return to Comfort
Chefs and restaurant owners are just trying to get a sense of balance this year, as 2020 has proven to be a year of struggle. Furthermore, after many months of staying-at-home and home cooking, people would want to go out. And when consumers do go out this year, it will be for a memorable dining experience.
As people wanted to socialize while feeling safe, restaurants will opt to provide their customers with feel-good food to provide them a sense of nostalgia and comfort – a pre-pandemic feel which we all are craving.
Events and catering businesses are also picking up as the public gains more confidence in the efficacy of the vaccines. Nonetheless, sanitation and safety guidelines will continue to be observed. For example, expert bartenders continue to provide superb service while observing coronavirus protocols.
The climate crisis continues as the global market faces problems relating to COVID-19. Though in recent years, the food and beverage industry was among the forerunners of eliminating single-use plastics, the use of plastic wrapping has crept back. This is heavily due to consumer concerns over virus contamination.
Though health concerns outweigh environmental awareness, grocery stores and markets still highly encourage reusable grocery bags. Nonetheless, mitigation measures need to be observed to eliminate pathogenic agents in this item.
Pandemic and Beyond in the F&B Sector
As we journey on for another year with the COVID-19 crisis still looming in the corner, let us continue to reflect on the past. Amid the chaos that this pandemic has brought upon us, examining these rising trends in the food and beverage industry only cements the thought that something good will come out of any challenge.