The food and drink services industry faced unprecedented change due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. Social distancing requirements and a range of ensuing safety measures meant that, across the globe, it was no longer possible to dine or drink in-house at food and drink locations. This forced the already established trend of digitalization to accelerate in the industry. Food and drink service providers expanded their digital presence by introducing online ordering and delivery services to stay afloat. Furthermore, virtual concepts, or “ghost kitchens” - restaurants in which only cooking is done, but no guests are served – solidified their place in the market. Today, the marketplace for food delivery and takeout is soaring, a trend that will likely continue to influence restaurant operations and reshape the dining experience for years to come.
While the coronavirus pandemic caused a decline in revenue across many of the food and drink services segments, figures have begun to reach pre-pandemic levels again and forecasts are predicting future growth, including that of the overall industry. In particular, the online food delivery market size is forecast to grow more than was expected prior to the pandemic in the upcoming years.
Quick services restaurants (QSRs) are some of the largest food and drink service companies in the world. This did not change during or after the pandemic, in fact, many QSRs already offered online ordering and delivery services prior to the pandemic. As a result, they were far more prepared for the crisis than their full service restaurant (FSR) counterparts. Coffeehouses, having a similar business model to QSRs, also proved resilient. Meanwhile, bars and nightclubs suffered greatly.
Consumer needs changed significantly because of the pandemic. These days, exceptional hygiene standards, online ordering, and home delivery have become essential requirements for many food and drink establishments. However, now consumers are back to in-person dining, companies are focusing again on trends like sustainability, vegetarian and vegan cuisine, and technological innovation like augmented reality (AR) menus and restaurant tours.
When it comes to food and drink service industry leaders, U.S. quick service restaurant (QSR) companies hold the most top spots. Coffee shop behemoth, Starbucks, has been the largest coffee shop chain in the world for many years, while world-famous QSR McDonald's is always high in the rankings. Meanwhile, when looking outside of North America, Yum China Holdings, Inc. accounted for the highest sales of any food service company in Asia.
The food and drink services industry can be broadly defined as the process of preparing, presenting, and serving food and drink to customers. It incorporates many different sectors, including quick service and causal dining restaurants, full service restaurants, cafes and coffee shops, bars, clubs, nightclubs, catering services, canteens, and more. Additionally, these individual sectors are subject to different trends, one example that is relevant to all of them is the rise of digitization and the online market. However, trend topics can also be more specific, for example, the demand for ethically sourced coffee in cafes and coffeeshops. New trends will continue to transform the outlook of this industry, the most notable of which being the coronavirus pandemic which is predicted to change food and drink services for years to come.