2020 was a year unlike any other for the foodservice industry.
1. Streamlined Menus
Fullservice operators got lean fast, reducing inventories and developing menu items they could make well with a smaller staff. These items had to travel well and be what customers craved. Expect menus to stay trimmed in coming months.
2. Off-Premises Takes Precedence
Prior to the pandemic, 80% of fullservice restaurant traffic was on-premises. Then in March 2020, most restaurants were forced to shut down on-premises dining. In what's likely the fastest pivot in industry history, focus quickly shifted to off-premises, via takeout and delivery.
3. Blended Meals, A Team Effort
Homebound, customers like to mix up meals - maybe make the main dish but order appetizers, sides or dessert from a restaurant. Millennials are especially big fans of the blended meal.
4. Bundled Meals? Considered Deals!
Why do any cooking? Customers' restaurant choices can be influenced by the offer of a bundled meal that perhaps includes an appetizer, entree and dessert in either family packs or for individual meals.
5. Meal Kits Make Cooking Fun
More than half the adults surveyed say they'd likely purchase a meal kit if it was offered by one of their favorite restaurants. That percentage rises to 75% for both Millennials and Gen Z adults. Kits package pre-measured ingredients and instructions to make the restaurant meal at home.
6. Meal Subscriptions
Customers sign up to get meals during the month for pickup or delivery - at a discounted price. More than half of consumers surveyed say they'd sign up if their favorite places offered this option.
7. Selling Groceries
Seems like anything that saves a trip gets a thumbs up. More than half of consumers surveyed would buy groceries (fresh, uncooked food items such as meat, produce, dairy, bread or pasta) if restaurants offered them.
8. Alcohol To Go
A third of off-premises customers (age 21+) say they included an alcoholic beverage with a takeout or delivery order since the beginning of the COVID-19 outbreak, and they'll continue to in the future.
9. Comfort Foods
Consumers say menus that offer a good selection of comfort foods influence their restaurant choice. From haute to homey, a third of fine dining operators surveyed are adding more comfort items - think burgers, pot pies, lasagna, soups, curries, sandwiches, pizza and noodle dishes.
10. Healthy and Diet-Specific Food
To the same degree the availability of comfort foods influences restaurant choice, so do healthful menu options. Diet-specific items (gluten-free, vegan, etc...) however are less important right now.