From the Editor: Food Forward

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Ever wonder why so many people talk about food? These days you can’t escape hearing about it. Whether you’re socializing at a party, attending a business conference with colleagues or simply talking amongst friends, invariably the conversation always shifts to the latest and greatest culinary delights. Whether the discussion is about a trendy new restaurant, an interesting recipe or a new cooking show on the Food Network, food, it seems, is always in fashion.

It’s therefore not surprising that, according to the Canadian Franchise Association (CFA), almost 40 per cent of all franchises are food-centred. In fact, when most people think about franchising, they invariably associate it with food, forgetting there are countless other business sectors that also offer franchising. That bodes well for the foodservice industry, because it shows the level of interest in restaurants is higher than for most other businesses. Still, according to StatsCan, there are more than 80,000 franchised locations in Canada with people who invest in these businesses coming from all walks of life.

Interestingly, though franchising remains a viable business model, it’s also reflective of the times. For example, take a look back at the ’80s, and it’s evident burgers and fries, fried chicken and pizza reigned supreme. Today, amidst a changing marketplace, where interest in health and nutrition is growing by leaps and bounds, more restaurants are featuring healthy food items on their menu, and increasingly fast-casual concepts are being launched that satiate the needs of an increasingly informed consumer.

Still, that’s not to say today’s consumers don’t want to indulge. After all, though burgers and fries may not necessarily constitute healthy foods, they do continue to be popular. The big difference is consumers now crave better burgers and are willing to pay more to sink their teeth into a patty that features quality ingredients. Similarly, pizza is more popular than ever, even though today’s toppings encompass more than just pepperoni and mushrooms, with authentic Neapolitan pizza made in a wood-burning oven now all the rage. The message is clear: in today’s marketplace, restaurants can’t afford to remain static but must continuously reinvent themselves
and evolve.

In fact, as consumers become more educated about food, and as their needs continue to evolve, operators will have to adapt to the changes fluidly and without fail. Whether there’s a need for more information about the food (where the food comes from, how it’s raised or prepared, or the number of calories it contains) or increased demands for greater variety in menu choices, due to food intolerances or allergens, one thing is certain, the rate of change will only speed up. Ultimately, how fast operators respond will make all the difference between failure and success.

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