Consumer foodservice recorded a collapse in sales in 2020 as Coronavirus (COVID-19) hit the region, with outlet closures, lockdowns and travel restrictions among the measures taken to try and control the pandemic. However, limited-service restaurants (LSR), often with takeaway and home delivery services already in place, as well as offering affordable menus, turned in the best foodservice performance in 2020. LSR will immediately return to positive growth from 2021.
LSR were recording healthy value growth rates of around 3% per year in the historic period up to 2020. Growth was down to a number of reasons, including affordability, the fact that on-the-go food is appreciated by busy consumers as it is convenient and fast and they can have it at the time of their choosing, and also the increasing demand for home delivery, which LSR are ideally placed to satisfy, helping to drive sales through this channel.
Western Europe saw dramatic sales declines for consumer foodservice in 2020, with this industry one of the hardest hit by the pandemic. With foodservice outlets only allowed to open for home delivery/takeaway during lockdowns, LSR were among the best suited operators for meeting demand for such services, either through their own operations or in conjunction with third party food delivery players. As a consequence, while sales were well down for LSR in 2020, the declines were less severe than for other foodservice channels.
The healthy lifestyle trend had already been increasingly influencing the LSR channel, with the pandemic serving to accelerate the demand for fresh and healthy food and drinks. The LSR commonly associated with fast food, have been making attempts to include healthier options, including vegetarian or vegan alternatives. For example, McPlant, the McDonald’s meat-free burger.
LSR will return to positive growth immediately post-2020, although, after the dynamic performances expected in 2021-2022, sales increases will return to similar levels (3%) over 2023-2025 to those seen in the pre-pandemic period. The LSR channel will therefore only see a relatively slow recovery in terms of regaining lost sales, with 2019 levels not expected to be reached until 2025.
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