This has been a year of learning. A year to look at life beyond numbers, understand fears, challenges and figure our way from there. The last few months have been extremely trying for the hospitality and F&B sector with many losing jobs, shutting shops and bracing themselves for uncertain times ahead.
For many, the focus has just been to stay afloat, to manage with the very basic and tailor-make their offerings to best suit the situation at hand. It has not been easy. This meant going back to the drawing board and planning their survival almost on a war footing, not knowing how long they will have to continue this for.
The business of food and beverage is a very dynamic one, dependent on people’s behavior and their socio-economic situation. Unless you feel upbeat, physically and mentally strong, you are not going to be looking at going out to eat and throwing big bashes and celebrating special occasions. With the availability of the vaccine still a few months away at the least, below are some of the trends we are likely to witness in the F&B space
Menus becoming shorter, simpler
2021 will see easier and quicker to make things on the menu rather than the slow-cooked meats and the more expensive delicacies. The focus will be on dishes that are fresh, locally-sourced and quick to whip up so as to ensure lesser wait time and quicker dining time for customers who do not wish to spend too much time in restaurants. The emphasis would definitely be more on native produce and ingredients which are familiar, easy to procure and order. This will also support local farmers, livestock breeders and fisheries. The imported items on the menu are going to be hugely rationalized with only those ingredients retained that are sure to be ordered and have a larger ordering
Weekend specials or specials of the day
With menus becoming smaller, there will be the issue of repetition and boredom for regular diners. Introducing a daily special and a few weekend special dishes will take care of this issue easily. This not only keeps the customers excited about what they can expect next but also keeps the team better engaged because they are constantly learning, experimenting and even inventing new dishes in the kitchen. Dishes from the special menu which become popular, can always be introduced later into the main menu.
With footfalls being slow and not expected to go up by 100%, many of the signature/speciality dishes which is labour intensive will only be available if pre booked. With inventories becoming leaner to minimize wastage, a lot of dishes will go under this pre-order label
Set menu to go
We are also likely to see outlets designing picnic baskets so people can buy the preset menu and eat in the park, on their long drive and their day out knowing their food has been prepared with utmost care, in hygienic surroundings. We might be seeing more people go on day trips and excursions, rather than fly out to other countries like they were pre-COVID. Hence, there is a possibility of a surge in demand for boxes of restaurant quality food, brunches packed as picnic baskets for those leisurely day-outs in the open with friends and family. Also, with cities like Bengaluru dotted with lakes and parks, there are plenty of choices for people to indulge in a little bit of frolic under the sun
These are surely going to stay for a while seeing they are not just a safe way to consume outside food but also a fun way where people can get children and even adults involved in assembling the food. Customers also get a chance to figure out how a dish is put together, add their own finishing touches and consume the food fresh and hot as they would if they were in the restaurant itself.
Having said all this, the main thing for restaurants will be to be prepared at all times, to adopt a lean model which allows them to think on their feet. The smarter thing would be to keep an ear on the ground and navigate their way based on market reactions. Trends are nothing but reactions to people’s likes, wants, availability of things influenced by social, economic and political situations sometimes. Hence, they are subject to change so, the quicker we get up, brush off the dust and move on, the better chance we have of surviving all situations.
Read | Travel Trends for 2021