The food and drink services industry has 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. In order to survive, food and drink service providers have 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 - have proved their viability during this crisis. 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.
Up until the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, the food and drink services industry had been seeing consistent year-over-year growth in all of its sectors. Yet, while the pandemic has proved to be a difficult time for the industry, it is still predicted to see growth. In particular, the online food delivery market size is forecast to grow more than was expected prior to the pandemic in the upcoming years.
Many quick service restaurant (QSR) companies already offered online ordering and delivery services prior to the COVID-19 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, have also proved resilient. Meanwhile, bars and nightclubs have suffered greatly, as it has proved difficult to recreate their services in a home or virtual setting.
Consumer needs have changed significantly as a result of the coronavirus pandemic. These days, exceptional hygiene standards, online ordering, and home delivery have become essential requirements. Food and drink establishments have had to adapt quickly to these changing trends in order to survive. Even after adapting, many businesses are still facing difficulties due to changing restrictions in their regions forcing them to close their doors at short notice.
When it comes to food and drink service industry leaders, quick service restaurant companies take the top spots. U.S.-based, quick service behemoth, McDonald’s, has been the largest food service chain in the world for many years, with Starbucks holding the second spot. Meanwhile, when looking outside of North America, 7-Eleven in Japan accounted for the highest sales of any food service provider, with the country being home to more 7-Elevens than anywhere else in the world.
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.