2021 Technomic Outlook: United States
by David Klemt
Technomic has been providing the foodservice industry with valuable insights on a global level for 50 years.
The research and consulting firm has been one of my go-to information sources for at least a decade.
A few weeks ago, I reviewed American food delivery trends from multiple sources. This week, I’m taking a look at Technomic’s foodservice predictions for the US.
Unprecedented and Unpredictable
Before we proceed, keep this in mind: 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 plunged the industry deep into unprecedented territory.
It seems the only thing predictable about Covid-19 in relation to restaurants, bars and other hospitality businesses is that this industry will continue to bear the brunt of closures and restrictions.
That said, I trust Technomic to lead the industry through unprecedented and unpredictable moments in time.
7 Key Trends
Technomic has made seven predictions for foodservice in the US.
- Streamlined menus. Technomic expects the trend toward reducing SKUs to continue. However, that may lead to innovative and healthy items replaced removed items. Leafy greens, environmentally-friendly, and health-conscience items such as immune boosters are expected to be menued.
- Tech is the future. This prediction can be summed up quickly: If it’s a tech-based, can improve operations and help a brand differentiate itself from others, the industry is going to implement it.
- Top three cuisines. Chinese, Italian and Mexican food and drink are expected by Technomic to perform the best in 2021, particularly if operators move beyond the classics and incorporate lesser-known ingredients. However, Technomic expects more interest in West African and Caribbean cuisine.
- Social justice. Operators will have to be transparent about their stances on social justice issues and make meaningful statements—hashtags won’t cut it with younger consumers.
- Umami will reign supreme. Technomic uses the phrase “new-mami” to describe “intense, mouthwatering fare.” Think fruit vinegars beyond apple, candy cap mushrooms, seafood meatballs, and so much more.
- Communal concepts must adapt. Food halls, eatertainment concepts, and venues with communal seating will have to reimagine their spaces and how guests use them during an era characterized by social distancing, constant sanitizing, and off-premise business models. Traditional guest experiences may return but there’s no telling when that will happen.
- Revenue recovery. Technomic expects the industry to start recovering in 2021. However, sales levels are unlikely to reach those of 2019.
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 U.S. Trend Outlook” webinar.