The pandemic has shaken the hospitality industry and it may never be the same again. However, not all changes are bad. There are some really cool and interesting things happening, like faster and smarter food ordering, robotic staff, and personalized meals based on your DNA.
We spoke with RC Show food futurist Tony Hunter to give us all the tea on what the future of food looks like and here are some of his predictions.
8 Drive-thru, delivery and take-out
Previously, you could only get pizza and Chinese food for delivery and takeout, but now you can easily and conveniently, without putting on pants and without leaving your house, get your favorite meals at home. Since delivery and takeout were necessary during lockdown, we have since grown accustomed to the fact that we can have any type of food and experience at home, at the touch of our fingertips and we don’t let’s not let that go.
7 Contactless experience
Remember you had to wait for a waiter to bring you the menu, then come back to take your order, then bring you the bill, only to have it ruined and have to wait longer to get it fixed and brought back ? We erased it from our memories because contactless ordering and payment became the trend and it’s here to stay. Turns out, it dramatically improved the dining experience. Technology options such as QR codes for menus and ordering and contactless payments through apps have actually allowed restaurants to make more money with higher turnover, saving money reducing human error and making the dining experience faster and much more enjoyable.
6 diversified income streams
Restaurants are coming up with creative ways to keep customers coming back for more than just their food by diversifying revenue streams and adding other verticals, like retail. Many restaurants have started offering subscriptions, grocery and retail, pre-packaged meal kits, and make-at-home cocktail kits. It’s a win-win for restaurants, bars and people who want to enjoy the comforts of their home and it’s likely to stay.
5 Smart technology
With 180,000 people leaving the big cities to return home or to the suburbs where it is cheaper, there has been a huge labor shortage. Restaurant owners are turning to technology to cope with shortages and operate more efficiently. This can be done with contactless ordering and payments (as mentioned above), online order automation for pickups and delivery, digital technology to streamline back-end processes, and it’s where it gets really fun and Jetson type robots. Robot servers, robot cooks and robot bartenders. Although they’ve been something we’ve seen teased at conventions and high-end restaurants in Las Vegas and Hong Kong, they’re increasingly becoming a daily occurrence to help address the shortage of human workers. , or to help flip fries, like Flippy the robot at White Castle.
4 pop-up restaurants
With the rise of the sharing economy, pop-ups were becoming a big part of our culture, but now with the added uncertainty of the world, pop-ups seem to really matter. Before the pandemic, pop-ups were mainly for themed events, super exclusive chef-focused events or to bring a concept elsewhere, but now they are also used for cohesive concepts, to test a concept or menu before to commit to brick and mortar.
3 ghost kitchens
Talk about brick and mortar, sometimes it’s overrated and all you need is a kitchen, it’s not your home. We’ve learned that not every dining experience has to be in a fancy restaurant and that a restaurant without seating means less overhead due to smaller rental space and no servers. Enter the Ghost Kitchen or Virtual Kitchen. They’ve become hugely popular in San Francisco’s downtown tech district, where you’d grab yourself and head back to your desk, or enjoy one day a month when it was quite pleasant to sit in the sun. It also works well in a city that is too expensive to have the extra space.
2 Health and well-being
Whether for dietary reasons, to save animals, save the planet or just to be a little healthier, people are eating less and less meat. Restaurants that are typically meat-heavy are beginning to (finally) understand the importance of being open to all and are incorporating more plant-based options. As well as for non-drinkers or those who want to drink less. Having menus with mocktails or non-alcoholic spirits is becoming increasingly important to be inclusive of everyone who wants to go out and not be intoxicated.
1 DNA-Adapted Food
This is perhaps the most exciting part of this list, for those who wish to eat for their personal needs. How many times have you gone to a restaurant and tried to modify a dish to suit your needs or dietary preferences, only to be turned away because the restaurant or chef “doesn’t make modifications”? (insert raised hand emoji). The chef’s realm is collapsing because people are different with different needs in what they should consume. A restaurant in London, UK called Vita Mojo is the first take-out restaurant to offer ultra-personalized meals or eat exactly what your body needs. You send them a sample of your blood and they analyze it to determine your allergies, sensitivities and needs and store it so you can order personalized meals for your body.
About RC Show
RC Show is a trade show and conference with thought leadership content and networking events, which began in 1945. With 20,000 industry professionals in attendance, RC Show is the largest catering and hospitality event in Canada bringing the industry together to shop, taste, learn, connect and grow their business.
Owned and operated by Restaurants Canada, the voice of foodservice for Canada’s $93 billion industry, this annual event offers education, the latest product innovations and culinary events designed to provide an experience as well as lead, inspire and motivate the industry.
When | May 9 to 11
Where | Toronto and virtually
About Tony Hunter
Tony is a global strategic foresight consultant, food futurist, food scientist and speaker specializing in alternative proteins and the future of food.
He passionately believes that AgriFood Tech offers tremendous opportunities to solve sustainability issues and feed the growing world population.
He provides strategic foresight services to major clients around the world using his unique combination of scientific, business and futuristic skills. Tony travels the world using this unique combination of skills to convey to his corporate clients and event audiences how new technologies will impact the food industries. This combination of skills and knowledge gives him a unique perspective on the future of food.