Yesterday, McCain Foodservice partnered with Google and leading food and drink experts to launch future thinking on flavour, craft, menus and how consumers choose where to eat.
The event launched as part of McCain Talking Points Live, kicked-off at Howling Hops Brewery in East London, and identified key trends and insights to show operators how creating the right talking points on the menu can build reputations and lead to customer recommendations.
The Google research, developed on behalf of McCain, showed how ‘Micro Moments' in consumer search habits are impacting eating out.
Three key factors were identified:
The importance of ‘best' and how, mobile searches for ‘best' have grown 80% in the past two years, with specifics such as ‘best local restaurant (+85%), and best fries (+75%) up significantly in the last two years.
The expectation of ‘close' and consumers wanting experiences that are tailored to their immediate location and the need for ‘now' with consumers becoming more reliant on their smartphones to make spur-of-the-moment decisions.
The research compiled by Think with Google also showed search trends, such as:
• Breakfast is the new brunch: searches for ‘breakfast near me' far exceed searches for meals throughout other day parts.
• It's about ultra-convenience: searches for branded restaurant apps that enable things like reservations, tracking orders, and discounts have grown 120% year-on-year. Search interest in ‘open now' has tripled in the past two years.
• It's about influences: Seasonality is a key driver of food interest.
• Confirming dietary changes: vegan restaurants and menus are number one in rising trends.
• Rising cuisine types: In one-year Peruvian is up 200%, Korean (+150%), Japanese (+95%), Southern States (+80%), Cambodian (+75%) and Algerian (+70%).
• Speak the language of search: consumers overwhelmingly search for chips not fries. Chunky, dirty and spicy are among the most searched for types of fries
Shane McNamara, beer sommelier for the Beer & Cider Academy, also collaborated with McCain on the project, and explained: "The right combination of food and beer can be the difference between a good meal and a great one. It's also the difference between standing out from your competition or not. That's the business case for introducing matching on your menu, offering customers a great experience, and another reason to keep choosing you in the face of increasingly tough competition.
"I worked with McCain to put together a selection of classic meals and suitable beers to pair them with. Recognising how the two can work together is vital in ensuring that your customers are both satisfied and keep coming back for more. But don't let that scare you off, the basic principles are easy to pick up and the guide is full of off-the shelf solutions and inspiration that any pub can put into action.
‘Billy Smokes' Barbecue Bootcamp', enabled guests to experience barbecue techniques and menu development from the Hackney based fire and smoke experts.
Will Griffiths, founder of Billy Smokes, said: "Modern barbecue is a long way from standard bangers and burgers served in the pub garden. Chefs from premium and even more high-volume food outlets are mixing flavours and barbecue techniques from a variety of cultures to develop their own unique takes on barbecue cuisine. That clash of different ingredients, cultures and cooking techniques ensures there is scope to create a unique offer.
Chris Edwards, menu flavourologist, cocktail consultant, and owner of The Shrub & Shutter and First Aid Box bars in London, shared insight on the importance of next generation flavour trends and his top tips for making the most of them: "As consumers seek more exciting food experiences, the desire to be exposed to a broader palette of flavours is increasing. So, operators should be prepared to have an open approach to flavour - mixing new ideas for modern consumers, challenging taste buds and bringing sensory experiences to the fore is key.
Edwards flavour movement advise included:
• Botany, modern plants, interesting plants, sea, land-forage, exciting vegan, flexitarian, functional ingredients made interesting e.g. fermented, pickled, eat raw
•Roast, burnt, raw and plant
Jo Holborn, McCain Foods marketing and category controller, summed up the event. "Competition for customers is increasingly intense so operators need to be able to find an edge if they want to stand out, make themselves discoverable and remain relevant.
"Creating talking points that help you stand out in the right way can excite customers, build reputations and lead to recommendations, whether that is word of mouth or good Trip Advisor reviews. However, it is easier said than done when you've got a business to run, and that's we've curated and are sharing the latest thinking on flavour, menus, craft and innovation, whether that is introducing beer and food matching, inspiration for how to use the most in-demand ingredients, or even how best to shout about what you're doing to new and existing customers.
The full report can be downloaded here http://www.mccainfoodservice.co.uk/innovation-think-google/