2021 Technomic Outlook: Canada
by David Klemt
Technomic has been providing the foodservice industry with valuable insights on a global level for five decades.
The research and consulting firm has been one of my go-to information sources for at least ten years.
A few weeks ago, I reviewed Canadian food delivery trends from multiple sources. This week, I’m taking a look at Technomic’s foodservice predictions for Canada.
Unprecedented and Unpredictable
First things first: predictions are best guesses. Technomic’s approach is scientific and data-driven but it’s important to approach any prediction with caution.
As the firm itself points out in their 2021 foodservice report, the global pandemic has thrown the industry into unprecedented territory.
It seems the only predictable element related to Covid-19 is that restaurants, bars and other hospitality businesses will bear the brunt of closures and restrictions.
That said, I trust Technomic to lead the industry through unpredictable, unprecedented moments in time.
5 Key Trends
Technomic has made five predictions for foodservice in Canada.
- 2021 will represent the start of financial recovery for foodservice. Technomic predicts moderate sales growth this year, below levels of 2019. However, limited-service restaurants are expected to perform better than their counterparts and return to 2019 revenue levels. Not surprisingly, Technomic expects full-service restaurants to be the most challenged.
- Operators will make their stances on social issues known. Multiple sources say today’s consumers want transparency from the brands they support. They want to know what company’s believe about climate change, food insecurity, social inequalities, diversity and hiring practices, fair pay for employees, and other issues. Technomic expects more operators to “double down” on transparency.
- On-premise operations will invest in off-premise business models. Again, multiple sources have reported that significant percentages of consumers are uncertain or uncomfortable about returning to restaurants and bars for in-person dining and drinking. Technomic expects operators to invest in smaller dining rooms so they can offer more limited-contact and contactless options to guests: walk-up ordering windows, multiple drive-thru lanes, designated curbside pickup locations, and in-store pickup and grab-and-go stations. The firm also expects more operators to embrace first-party/direct delivery, along with technologies like mobile ordering and geofencing.
- Comfort, quirkiness and indulgence. Technomic expects comfort foods to continue to perform well and encourages operators to get creative—even quirky—with this category. They caution that health will still be a focus of many guests and suggest that some operators will “disguise better-for-you meals as indulgent.”
- Our home and native land. Hyperlocality will play a crucial role in driving traffic given the travel restrictions imposed throughout Canada. Operators will likely forge relationships with local farms to attract local visitors to their venues. Technomic expects to see grassroots movements promoting support for small regional chains and local independent operations to gain traction.
Bring it all Together
Chasing trends can be a fool’s errand. Not every prediction made by Technomic will work for every restaurant or bar in Canada.
Just like Technomic collects and analyzes industry data, operators must review their guest, sales and operations data to make informed decisions. This is another reason it’s crucial to own the guest journey in its entirety.
Click here to view Technomic’s “2021 Canadian Trends Outlook” webinar.