The global consumer foodservice industry stands at a tipping point. Surging investment in delivery and online ordering has placed the industry in a similar position to retail 3-5 years ago, with online commerce growing rapidly, but with live “experiences” holding their ground. This briefing serves as a guide to the current state of play, running through key regional trends as well as the five most important global trends for the next five years.
One of the most important shifts is the rapid rise of delivery-optimised virtual restaurants and ghost kitchens, both which will likely lead to further declines in the cost of delivered food. Over time this could lead to a tipping point, driving further acceleration in delivery sales.
As more occasions migrate online, an ever-larger portion of daily eating occasions involve some kind of prepared meal or snack - but not necessarily from a restaurant. Grocery retailers, tech giants food and drink manufacturers, foodservice players and others are all turning fresh ingredients into meals and snacks, on-demand.
While delivery services are still a relatively expensive luxury in many markets, this is changing, particularly as automation and innovations such as dark kitchens change the economics of delivery. This is changing the role of the physical restaurant, creating new nodes of product discovery, driving app usage, and elevating the importance of experience.
If the global development of foodservice in the 20th century was in part driven by American consumers in cars, in the 21th century Asian consumers with smartphones are likely to form the vanguard. From delivery to super apps to the next trendy cuisine, Asian markets can be expected to lead the way.
As interest in veganism, “flexitarianism”, and plant-based products grows, restaurants are adapting, both as a means of serving new consumer needs and as a means of differentiation. As more products can be grown, fermented, and cultured in-house, restaurants have new opportunities to build, extend, and deepen their brands.
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