Several questions we have received lately have dealt with our prediction of the foodservice industry and how it will look once we come out of the pandemic. The answer is, we don’t really know, but there are a number of components we believe will become permanent fixtures in the “neo-foodservice” industry.
For one, onsite management and non-commercial segments will see fewer onsite kitchens. With the growth of cloud kitchens that began to occur even before Covid-19, businesses have found that the division of labor once again prevails.
Labor has long been a headache for schools, healthcare and colleges – whether or not they are managed by a contract feeder. Cloud kitchens allow for a centralized production facility to satisfy the whims of shifting demand.
Also, many of us will continue to adhere to the measures put in place to prevent the spread of Covid-19 even after the last vaccine has been administered and herd immunity has been accomplished.
Markers in checkout lines, masks for food workers, sanitation of each table and chair after use, for example, will likely become permanent practices. In the long term then, foodservice will be among the most hygienic industries behind healthcare.
The following table shows our post-pandemic view of foodservice by certain segments:
Foodservice Segments Will Look Somewhat Different
|Full-Service Restaurants||· Cloud kitchen production
· Smaller kitchen footprints
|Quick Service Restaurants||· Delivery only stores
· Curbside and pickup lanes
· No dining area
|K-12 Schools||· Reduction in foodservice workers
· Offsite production
· Grab and go
· Remote school will become common options for public schools; privates will maintain foodservice
|College and University||· Reduction in dining plans
· Offsite campus dining/delivery will continue
· More reliance of foodservice contract firms
|B&I||· Vending and grab and go will become common
· Made-to-order will give way to offsite ordering
· Remote work will reduce onsite workforce
|Healthcare||· In-house kitchen staff will become more important and round-the-clock meals will become critical.
· Room service will become the norm outside of communal dining
|Retail||· Foodservice meals produced by central kitchens will increase.
· Retailers will rely less on self-serve food and more on crew serve
· C-Stores will see increased usage because of increased levels of sanitation
The truth is, many experienced professionals and consultants in the industry are not exactly clear on what will mark the end of the pandemic and how the population will respond. But many of the changes that were taking place prior to Covid-19 – like delivery, mobile ordering and cloud kitchens – have been accelerated and will likely remain far past 2021.