The Caterer

Viewpoint: It's time to future-proof your business

06 April 2019 by

From 3D-printed meals to DNA-profiled diners and virtual chefs, it's not too early to ready yourself for the future of food, says Sarah Whiddett

The foodservice industry is changing. From tech to wellbeing trends, there are now more factors than ever contributing to the way our industry is shaped and defined. Anticipating consumer demands further down the line is as important as getting things right today, tomorrow and next week. We've all got the bigger picture in mind.

Digital technology is already a huge factor in our day-to-day lives, but by 2040 we think it is going to be an even bigger deal. So much so, the idea of calling another person on the phone to order a takeaway could seem incomprehensible. In this instant world of the future, customers could be able to take convenience one step further.

Keen to have your salmon stir-fry ready and waiting when you get home? No problem. Message your virtual assistant in the morning to trigger a dinner delivery for the evening and arrive home to a temperature-controlled box on your doorstep.

Disturbed by the concept of fleeting human interaction? You'll be part of a different demographic. As the antidote to digital, the connected world could find us all going back to our roots - from sustainable cooking to traditional dining. In this reality, we predict climate change and our carbon footprint will both have taken their toll, and people will be starting to respond.

We could see consumers shopping more responsibly, food deliveries arriving fuel-free, and green space providing an opportunity for businesses and families to grow their own produce. Behaviourally, customers could u-turn with long, social meals back on the agenda, and going out for dinner becoming a prized occasion once more.

Those who recognise this as a likely reality would be wise to consider how committing to a sustainable approach now could benefit both their environmental contribution and business longevity. Customers could soon be seeking evidence of real-world impact.

Trade in food delivery HGVs for bikes or electric vehicles, consider the quality and origins of the ingredients on your restaurant menus, and get rid of packaging that isn't necessary or recyclable. In this world, community would be increasingly important and the foodservice industry could choose how crucial a part they play in that. Our advice: stay relevant and think green!

Sarah Whiddett is chair of networking forum Aura and head of insight and customer experience at Bidfood

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