As we move forward into a new month of a new year, of a new decade, we continue to feel the impact of the significant changes we’ve lived through over the last two decades.
For the foodservice-and-hospitality industry, the future looks bright. At a Foodovation session held at Kraft Heinz late last year, economist Chris Elliott from Restaurants Canada told an audience of operators the foodservice industry stands strong. In fact, over the past decade, the restaurant industry has been the fastest-growing sector in the Canadian economy — ahead of real estate, finance and transportation. According to Elliott, from 2014 to 2019, the industry posted five-consecutive years of growth, with sales last year hitting a record $93.5 billion.
So, what can we expect on the horizon? This month’s Trend Report takes a look at some of the food trends making headlines this year. Interestingly, according to the Restaurant Outlook Survey produced by Restaurants Canada, one in three Canadians are considering reducing their meat consumption and, on the menu side, operators see the top-three food trends being requested by their guests as gluten free (79 per cent), vegetarian (66 per cent) and vegan 61 per cent).
Not surprisingly, digital ordering continues to grow at incredible rates — 76 per cent of QSR restaurants now offer online ordering or an app for takeout and delivery and 40 per cent of table-service restaurants offer electronic reservations. According to stats by NPD and cited by Restaurants Canada, digital sales at restaurants grew by an astounding 45.9 per cent in 2018 and 43.8 per cent in 2019. A total of 6.4 per cent of all sales now include third-party delivery with expectations that number will continue to soar. One of the most interesting developments in the past year has been the introduction of ghost restaurants (17 per cent of operators are looking to expand their businesses into ghost kitchens over the next two years).
Thanks to technology, the restaurant world as we know it has changed, with consumers now able to order from virtually any restaurant anywhere. As good a development as that is, the trend also poses challenges for operators as they continue to lose connection with their customers. And, in this changing world, who does the customer truly belong to? But, as Elliott reminds operators, 88 per cent of those surveyed by Restaurants Canada agreed Canadians will continue to place importance on social-dining experiences over the next five years and that bodes well for the industry as we move forward into the new decade.