In the foodservice industry, success is predicated not on what a restaurant operator has successfully accomplished in the past, but what is being planned for tomorrow. Nowhere is this more evident than in the franchise arena. For more than four decades, franchising has been the avenue of choice for fuelling growth and expansion in the foodservice industry while consistently spawning new concepts.
Although growth is certainly more measured these days, given that many of the industry’s most successful concepts are now reaching middle age, new concepts continue to come to the fore, with one significant difference. Now, emerging concepts are distinguished more by healthy fare, with an ethnic perspective, and less on the typical foods usually associated with QSR, such as burgers, fries and pizza.
Whether this trend is being driven by changing millennial tastes, aging baby boomers who are more concerned with their health or recent legislation in Ontario requiring foodservice chains with more than 20 units to post caloric information, the reality is that today’s consumers are looking to align themselves with healthier eating, opting for more wholesome foods while looking to consume less saturated fat. That means operators will have to shift their offerings to meet those changing demands.
Interestingly, while today’s franchise landscape is changing, the latest industry data from the Canadian Franchise Association shows that interest in the quick-service industry grew 131 per cent between 2015 and 2016, while interest in restaurants/dining rooms grew by 114 per cent. Not surprisingly, food franchises make up the largest sector of Canadian franchises, growing by 45.6 per cent since 2010 and now forming 40 per cent of the Canadian franchise market. And, with the fast-casual segment continuing to accelerate at the expense of full-service, many emerging concepts will fall into this category.
Certainly, burgers and fries will always form the backbone of fast food, but increasingly, tomorrow’s concepts will be healthier and more nutritious and even those stereotypical fast foods will be forced to evolve to become healthier. Clearly, healthy dining is not a passing fad, it’s entrenched as a hard-core reality. Look for meat-based dining to give way to an increase in plant-based menus, look for prominent use of pulses, grains and salads and look for less sugar and processed food. Through it all, expect local food to continue to be a huge driver in all segments of the industry.
As with all matters in our lives today, let’s not underestimate the impact of technology on the foodservice industry, which will continue to make the way the industry delivers the food experience quicker and more efficient.