With the world in the middle of the Fourth Industrial Revolution (as some are calling it) – disruption is the key word in the modern age and the Food and Hospitality industry is not immune. The concept of disruption has been a core philosophy of the tech industry, and has led to transformation in various industries such as communication, entertainment, and finance and most recently in the Food and Hospitality space with the launch of various meal ordering apps at pubs, restaurants and cafes now being the norm.
However, technology is not the only disruptor at play in the Food and Hospitality industry, there are another four.
Gen Z and Millenials
After decades of passively accepting the food industry’s offerings without a high degree of public scrutiny, consumers have increasingly demanded change. This emerging generation of 18 to 30 somethings want to make their own choices and not be fed a processed message. These Millennials want to see credibility and authenticity and they demand transparency in the way food producers label their products.
This generation are obviously also very keen on the environmental impact of venues – what are your venues doing to save the planet? From basic recycling to green energy to net zero credentials. A carbon neutral certification demonstrates an organisation’s commitment to decarbonisation, and the neutralisation of remaining impact through the support of environmental projects. All of these factors may come into it when they are deciding on their favourite venues to come to.
They are prepared to pay top dollar for food (either in restaurants or shops) but don’t expect a top seller to be a top seller for too long – they are a fickle bunch!
Changing Demographics of Sydney, Australia
There is an increasing sentiment that you can’t dictate what people eat, but you can make sure consumers are very clear on what they are putting into their bodies. With the latest census figures released a couple of years ago and a new census completed a couple of months ago, this confirmed that the major growth in population in cities (especially Sydney) prior to COVID19 is from Asian countries. With this obviously comes different food habits including being far more health conscious and different tastes.
Asia is one of the largest market potentials for Australian food distributors, where this very sentiment is taking hold. The Australian food industry has the potential to capitalise on this increasing demand for healthy food thanks to the reputation of freshness among our local products. The same can be said for our venues.
In America, the larger corporations and venues have a well thought out Latino strategy to capture that market – how many Australian venues truly study the demographics of their areas– don’t miss the boat!
As technology changes at a rate of knots, so too does the global cultural shift towards a desire to live more healthily. With some calling Australia, one of the fattest country in the world and already facing an obesity epidemic, Food and Hospitaity businesses and venues will therefore continue to face demands for healthier options. There are already loud calls for governments to continue to respond with new regulations and taxes, such as a call for “sugar and fat taxes”.
Food allergies and intolerances
According to the Food Authority of NSW, food allergies now affects 1 in 10 infants (children under five) and about 2 in 100 adults in Australia. Australia has one of the highest allergy rates in the world and it can be genetic. Food intolerance is even more common. Surveys indicate that up to 25% of the population believe they have a food intolerance. If your menus or venues are not advertising the fact that your kitchens can be flexible with these types of customers, consider what percentage of the population you are missing out on.
Technology and the COVID19 effect
Consumers are also shopping with their smartphones and have a wealth of information available about the food they buy and can now make smarter choices on the spot.
Over time production of food has become more automated with technology increasingly replacing human labour. Automated food manufacturing will enable consumers to more easily personalise their food and incorporate their personal and health preferences – it is already happening. The same is happening in venues with the multitude of food ordering and tip apps. With the rising labour costs and extensive staff shortages, the demand for technology over labour will only continue to get greater.
The one thing that is clear is that change is upon us. The food and hospitality industry has definitely been disrupted, and during a period of disruption the one thing venues can ill afford to do is nothing. Do not be scared of disruption – embrace it – it may well lead to the creation of new and more profitable revenue streams.
Not all ideas will be successful. However, if businesses do not react to these trends, then their established venues could soon be rendered unviable, disrupted by new ideas designed to serve up the ever-evolving consumer with taste and choice that suits their needs.