Luke Saunders, founder-CEO of the Farmer’s Fridge vending company, has a piece in Fast Company in which he makes 10 predictions about how the food business will change in the next five years, shifts that will be a direct result of the stresses place don the industry over the past few months.
Those changes include:
• "Food safety as the new norm … Expect 'Tell me about your food safety' to become the new 'Is it organic?' for discerning consumers."
• "A less-diverse food scene - in the short term … Many customers will have to trim their food-away-from-home budgets out of necessity, and the economics of running under socially distant protocols won’t make sense for many eateries."
• "Closing the kitchen to the public eye … it won’t be as easy for patrons to digest the visual of just how many people touch your lunch or dinner before it makes its way to you. It will also be easier to keep the food safe in more highly controlled environments, out of sight for customers."
• "No more 'serve yourself' … The future is pointing toward individually packaged, contactless, grab-and-go food options in places like grocery stores, restaurants, and business and university cafeterias."
• "Restaurants will get a face-lift … think 50% fewer tables; dividers between cashiers and patrons; UV sterilization lights used over tables between seatings; antimicrobial coatings on most everything; face masks worn by front of house AND back of house employees; dedicated safety personnel; and separate handwashing/sanitizing stations for patrons to use outside of the bathroom."
• "Lines? No, thank you … Rather than a sign of success, crowded restaurants may be seen as poorly managed places to avoid."
• "Embracing a more limited menu … As supply-chain interruptions become the norm, menu offerings will shrink and could change more often as certain ingredients fluctuate in price and availability."
• "Tech dominance … In a post-COVID food scene, ordering through a touchscreen or with your phone will soon feel as normal as giving an order to a server or cashier does now."
• "The evolution of the server … In this new world, their role as a guide for the customer will be critical as they are leaned on to orchestrate safety and direct customers through their restaurant journey."
• "Restaurants will be back … While these changes might seem daunting, I firmly believe that restaurants as we know and love them will be back. It might take time, but there is no replacing the energy, excitement, and buzz of a night out at a new–or beloved favorite–restaurant. And when our thriving, diverse restaurant community does return, I predict they’ll be even better poised to weather the next storm."
- KC's View:
All of this seems reasonable, but in some ways the first nine predictions work against the final one - because all those things make the restaurant experience seem a lot less compelling, at least to me.
There are just so many unknowns. For the moment, I think I'll just stay home and cook.