What’s next for hospitality?

Understanding the ever-changing hospitality sector is key for wholesalers as the nation reopens, according to KAM Media Managing Director Katy Moses

Many industries have suffered during this pandemic, but the effect on UK hospitality has been heartbreaking to see. KAM carried out research in April and found 66% of operators didn’t think they’d survive if lockdown measures continued for a further three months. That’s two thirds of hospitality businesses at risk. So, what’s next for the industry?

Evolving eating-out occasions

The way we live our lives has changed, meaning the way we consume will change too. It’s likely the huge increase in people working from home will continue long-term; this gives ‘neighbourhood’ outlets the opportunity to capture ‘home-working’ trade during the day. Remote working space within a venue will be important for some – decent coffee and wifi and well-placed power points are critical here. Simple food-to-go-style lunches become relevant as a low-cost, quick, everyday lunch alternative to eating at home again.

Eating out, at home

Delivery is now providing hospitality with a much-needed source of income. Consumers have been forgiving of new delivery services during lockdown, but operators now need to get professional – competition will be fierce and not all will survive. Expect the best operators to not only provide food to eat at home but to offer the entire experience too including drink pairings, tableware and playlists. DIY meal packs and ‘finish at home’ signature dishes are emerging as crowd-pleasing concepts. 

2019 trends in a 2020 landscape

Remember sustainability? Once the industry moves out of survival mode, this will be back on the agenda. Plastic takeaway boxes may have been OK for panic buying in lockdown, but they’re not going
to be acceptable longer term. The same goes for veganism, local, low- and no-alcohol and all those 2019 buzzwords. These things haven’t gone away. Simplified menus may be around for a while but that doesn’t mean they should lose any of their relevance and flare. Trends for 2020 and beyond? Physical menus, cash payments, shared condiments and buffets are definitely off the menu, with ‘contactless dining’ the next big thing.

Great value consistently

Many menus have been simplified and include value options. We’re heading towards a major recession and many consumers will be spending more cautiously. Menus need to reflect that. Operators
will be keeping a close eye on margins. They will seek out a strong
and stable supply chain, where they can predict prices and guarantee availability. Food producers, wholesalers, retailers and operators need to consider how to future-proof the entire supply chain to navigate similar shocks, which will undoubtedly come along.

Support the underdogs

Some areas of hospitality will need more support than others. City or town centre and travel venues are likely to have to wait a lot longer for footfall to grow. Younger customers are likely to get back to their pre-Covid habits much quicker
than over-55 year olds, meaning those with an older customer base may           suffer for longer. Small, independent venues may be more at risk. Remember some businesses will need more support than others, so tailor advice and solutions accordingly.

Commit for the long-term

It’s going to be a long road to recovery and we’re inevitably going
to lose some outlets, with 82% of operators not expecting customer numbers to reach pre-lockdown levels for at least six months. Wholesalers need to think about how they can support their customers for the long-term. But if there’s one thing wholesale is good at doing, it’s adapting to ensure it continues to serve its customers.

Read more from July/August’s issue of Wholesale News for free online.

coronavirus covid-19 Foodservice hospitality KAM Media Katy Moses wholesaler