TORONTO — Foodservice operators have been forced to re-evaluate everything in the past two years due to difficult economic conditions and the changing consumer dynamics, noted presenters from the Chicago-based Technomic Inc. at the recent Foodservice Trends and Directions Conference.
The fast-paced, information-packed event, which attracted some 180 people, was held in Toronto during the CRFA Show. Chaired by Patrick Noone, Technomic’s director of Business Development, the company presenters were: Sara Monette, senior manager of Consumer Research; Melissa Wilson, principal; Kevin Higar, senior manager and Eric Thoresen, director. Discussion topics included everything from shifting consumer behaviour to social media opportunities to an update on the U.S. industry.
A turnaround in the Canadian foodservice marketplace is in sight, said Melissa Wilson, citing CRFA forecasts of 2.9 per cent positive growth in 2010, dominated by the Top 100 Canadian chains that represent approximately 21 per cent of the market.
Hot concepts in the multi-unit sector where identified as: Toronto-based, 12-unit South St. Burger Co, which has announced plans to start franchising; Calgary-based, 29-unit Good Earth Coffeehouse & Bakery, a food focused coffee restaurant; Regina-based, six-unit Brewsters Brewing Company & Restaurant, which features a family friendly atmosphere and Vancouver-based, 17-unit Mr. Mikes Steakhouse & Bar, known for its western appeal.
The key to success at today’s hot concepts was broken down at the conference. The findings were: a drive for freshness; visible social responsibility, including going green and local and sustainable foods; websites that facilitate online ordering and online reservations; building up takeout, including dedicated spaces for takeout; tight labour management; increased server training and promotion of customer interaction; and incorporation of grazing and sharing menu items.