Self-service salad bars may still be on ice in the wake of the pandemic, but foodservice operators – including those at retail – can meet COVID-19 challenges with fresh solutions, according to Nestlé Professional.
In its new report, “Top 2021 Foodservice Trends: How to Succeed in the New Normal,” Solon, Ohio-based Nestlé Professional highlights several areas of interest that extend to foodservice-at-retail programs:
- A show of safety: Food safety and sanitation will (and should) move from behind-the-scenes actions to transparent, visible efforts, including regular wipe-downs between customers, touch-free trash receptacles, and reworked self-service areas that offer single-serve packets and employee-assembled customization.
- Outdoor dining: In the pandemic and post-pandemic world, outdoor dining has become popular, especially among younger customers. Grocers can take heed of this trend and convert outdoor spots like sidewalks and even parts of parking lots for customers who want to bring food and meals outside.
- More adventurous fare: As the events of 2020 spurred Americans to cook for themselves, it also made them savvier food consumers. Expect them to continue to seek out comfort food with a twist (i.e., new versions of fried chicken and nostalgic desserts) while also testing out a new sense of culinary adventure with globally inspired dishes like Middle Eastern shawarma, Vietnamese banh mi and Mexican tortas, among others. Consumers reported missing Asian and Mexican food the most.
- Shifts for new revenue streams: Reflecting the new omnichannel environment, restaurants enhanced or replaced dine-in revenues by adding dayparts, updating apps and – important for grocery competitors – pivoting to a “general store” model with specialty ingredients, pre-made sauces, and even cleaning products and paper goods for pickup or delivery. According to the Nestlé Professional report, 65% of operators planned to continue offering pantry and grocery items and 49% would keep selling nonfood and nonperishable items to customers.