Statistics

by David Klemt David Klemt No Comments

Restaurants Canada Reveals Pandemic Impact

Two Years On, Restaurants Canada Reveals Pandemic Impact

by David Klemt

Canon accounting calculator

Restaurants Canada looks at the impact of the pandemic on the foodservice industry in their latest Foodservice Facts report.

Canada’s foodservice industry research and advocacy non-profit sees a return to pre-pandemic operations. However, the path forward toward pre-pandemic traffic and sales levels won’t be without its challenges.

“While nominal sales are expected to return to pre-pandemic levels before the end of the year, traffic still remains below what it was before,” says Restaurants Canada president and CEO Christian Buhagiar.

To access your own copy of 2022 Foodservice Facts, click here.

Industry Still Struggling

As an owner, operator, or foodservice professional, you probably have the answer to a specific question in mind.

When will we be “back to normal?” And, of course, the natural followup to that question. Will the industry surpass 2019 traffic and sales?

Restaurants and bars throughout Canada have survived six waves of Covid-19 over the course of two-plus years. There have been an inordinate amount of lockdowns that inarguably forced the permanent closure of far too many businesses.

As Restaurants Canada states (and the rest of us know all too well), there’s no telling if another Covid-19 variant will rear its ugly head. It’s conceivable (but with any luck unlikely) that Canada could face future lockdowns.

At the moment, according to Restaurants Canada, foodservice sales are currently 11 percent below 2019 levels. And yes, that’s after adjustment for inflation. Speaking of which, one reason traffic and sales remain below those of 2019 is consumer confidence. Many Canadians are concerned about a possible recession.

In addition, operators in Canada continue to face a labor shortage.

News Not All Bad

Now, anyone who read the previous section would be justified in lacking confidence in the industry. However, there is good news.

First, let’s compare Q1 of 2022 to Q2. Per Restaurants Canada, just 15 percent of restaurants were able to seat guests with zero restrictions. By April, though, approximately 90 percent of restaurants in Canada could serve in-person guests restriction-free.

Second, Q2 had more positivity in store for operators. According to Restaurants Canada, the FSR segment endured an 18-month decline in traffic when Covid-19 took hold. When restrictions were lifted, the floodgates of consumer demand burst. By Q2, traffic was a mere one percent lower in comparison to 2019.

Going a bit granular, QSR performance also improved in Q2. Per Restaurants Canada, QSR traffic lagged eight percent behind pre-pandemic levels. However, that number improved to just two percent under pre-pandemic levels by Q2.

Compellingly, Q2 still wasn’t done with foodservice industry positivity. While QSRs outpaced FSRs three-fold in terms of traffic, their numbers combined bring the industry back to 2019 Q2 levels.

Restaurant Canada’s positive outlook predicts that the industry will return to pre-pandemic levels by Q4.

Image: StellrWeb on Unsplash

by David Klemt David Klemt No Comments

Pumpkin Spice Season Descends Upon Us

Pumpkin Spice Season Descends Upon Us

by David Klemt

Jack o' lantern and smoke

Once again, the unstoppable march of the spooky season is upon us, bringing with it a frightening assortment of pumpkin spice items and expectations.

In the blink of an eye, hordes will descend on your restaurant or bar. “Pumpkin spiiiiiice,” they’ll croak.

Okay, so that’s overly dramatic. For the most part, pumpkin spice season is anything but scary. And really, very few people will transform into singularly focused pumpkin spice zombies.

However, fall is nearly here. So, you do need to finalize your fall/autumn menu. Beginning in September, that really does mean considering offering at least one pumpkin spice LTO item.

Interestingly, though, pumpkin spice may not deserve its perception as the flavor of fall. According to Datassential, there are ten flavors that index high enough to give pumpkin spice a challenge for the fall throne.

What are they? Well, it just so happens that Datassential has those answers, along with a bit of useful advice.

Lord of the LTO

Recently, Datassential released “Food Industry Trend Report: 2022 Pumpkin Spice Season.” As the research firm points out, pumpkin spice seems to be encroaching on summer more each year.

How far away are we, I wonder, from pumpkin spice claiming summer for itself? Will we be subjected to pumpkin spice dry rubs at summer barbecues? Is some intrepid operator going to create a pumpkin spice lemonade?

Those terrifying questons aside, pumpkin spice season coming earlier means more opportunities to benefit from LTOs. Just as it seems that pumpkin spice is descending upon us earlier and earlier, it also seems to dominate the LTO space.

In fact, per Datassential research, major chains executed 174 pumpkin spice LTOs. Now, that’s still with a five-percent drop in menuing for pumpkin space over the past 12 months. Further, that number doesn’t include small, regional chains and independents who also launched pumpkin spice LTOs.

Of course, there are also other fall flavors that deserve a place on operators’ menus. And they’re perfectly cromulent as LTO drivers.

Fall Flavor Favorites

To inspire operators to create LTOs that entice consumers this fall, Datassential has identitied ten flavors on which to focus. Helpfully, they separate them into two main categories.

Top five sweet fall flavors:

  • Vietnamese cinnamon
  • Spicy ginger
  • Allspice
  • Eggnog
  • Pumpkin pie

Top five savory flavors:

  • Coconut milk
  • “Oktoberfest”
  • Mustard cream
  • Turkey gravy
  • Cranberry sauce

Personally, I can see operators and their teams needing to get creative to leverage mustard cream and turkey gravy. Interestingly, Datassential suggests a few flavors not on either list above.

According to their report, Datassential expects apple and blood orange to be popular for LTOs this year. According to the firm, apple was popular last year. When it comes to blood orange, Datassential says 38 percent of consumers like or love the flavor.

Whichever flavors you choose, Datassential has the following advice, which we co-sign: Ensure your LTOs are fresh; make sure they’re easy and quick to make; and don’t discount them. In fact, you should create premium LTOs that come with a premium price.

Image: Colton Sturgeon on Unsplash

by David Klemt David Klemt No Comments

Hotels, Guest Data and Guest Expectations

Hotels, Guest Data and Guest Expectations: A Chat with SevenRooms

Fountains outside Bellagio Las Vegas

We sit down with Austen Asadorian, vice president of sales at SevenRooms, to chat about pent-up demand for travel.

People are eager to get back out there and hotels, of course, play a crucial role in their travel plans. However, we’re not engaging with the same guests we were pre-pandemic.

No, today’s guest demands more from the hotels and resorts they select. And a key to delivering on guest demands is collecting guest data.

But while operators know they’re supposed to be collecting guest data, there’s some uncertainty about what to actually do with it. Enter: SevenRooms.

More accurately, meet Austen Asadorian of SevenRooms. Not only can he address meeting guest demands through tech, he can address how to use guest data responsibly and effectively.

Hi Austen, thank you for taking the time to speak with us. Can you tell us a little about yourself and your role at SevenRooms?

Thanks, David! My name is Austen Asadorian and I’m the Vice President of Sales at SevenRooms. I first started my career in hospitality early in high school, getting a job at a local restaurant in New Jersey, learning everything from protein fabrication to catering and dealing with daily customers, even managing events. I continued working in hospitality through college, while going to the Culinary Institute of America for a degree in hospitality management, and ultimately, landed at Hillstone Restaurant Group where I ran back of house operations as well as the company’s Manager Training Program. Before joining SevenRooms, I worked as Peloton’s Director of Sales, leading their go-to-market strategy for retail growth and expansion from 2014-2017.

Today, I support SevenRooms’ global expansion efforts to accelerate our goal of being the best-in-class solution for hospitality operators around the world. Having previous experience in the hospitality industry, I joined SevenRooms because I was hyper aware of the pain points in the industry surrounding technology and the need for better guest management after having lived it day-to-day for several years. More importantly, I believe in SevenRooms’ vision and have a true passion for helping hospitality businesses, big and small, drive revenue, and create loyal guests for life.

Let’s talk hotels. What does the hotel industry look like two years after (or into) the Coronavirus pandemic?

When the pandemic struck, travel came to a complete halt and hotel occupancy in the US fell from 70% in March 2019 to less than 25% in March 2020—rooms were empty. Now, as the world is back to what we can consider a new “normal,” we’re seeing an extreme surge in travel and hotels are busier than ever.

However, what guests expect from hotels experience-wise has changed and they demand more. They’re making up for lost time and they want to make it count. Coming out of the pandemic, hotel operators are taking a harder look at their entire tech stack. It’s no longer optional to have a tech stack that is fully integrated from top to bottom across their operations—it’s a must-have—and technology providers are adapting to meet those needs. Additionally, operators have put a strong emphasis on the importance of ownership over their guest data. Both trends have positioned SevenRooms incredibly well within the hotel sector, as this has been our business philosophy from day one.

How can hotel operators and managers live up to these high expectations?

The simple answer is by taking advantage of technology solutions into their everyday practices and processes. These tech solutions can be anything from a QR code for mobile order and pay, allowing guests to order food and drink from anywhere on the property without ever needing a server to approach them, to an integrated customer relationship management (CRM) platform that speaks to and pulls data from their F&B CRM, easily sharing that information across teams at the hotel. For example, passing information along to a guest services team to ensure that in-room amenities don’t include nuts if a guest has a peanut allergy.

Operators and managers should also make sure they’re utilizing loyalty programs. According to a recent SevenRooms survey of American consumers, 44% say that loyalty programs play a part in their hotel choice and there are certain incentives that will bring them back.

For example, some want loyalty points to enjoy on property restaurants and bars, whereas others want a personal greeting when they check in, or a complimentary glass of champagne waiting for them when they get to their room.

Technology and loyalty programs both play into an exceptional experience and it’s important for operators to use both to create the total package.

You mentioned collecting guest data. Can you tell us a little bit more about why that is so important?

When we talk about data and hotels, we’re talking about using it to power a one-of-a-kind unique experience. We don’t mean taking or selling personal information, and that’s an important distinction.

The data we’re collecting for operators centers around a guest’s profile—who they are and what they like. This can be anything from their dietary preferences to their favorite table in the hotel restaurant’s dining room, to what dessert they order most often when they visit.

By having this data, operators can build a direct relationship with these guests and, in turn, build an incredible experience that keeps them coming back. For example, if a guest stays at a specific hotel on their vacation and takes full advantage of the pool cabanas, the data collected on those visits can then be used to retarget them with a special marketing promotion or offer to visit their local hotel property for a staycation, complete with a discount on a cabana day rental.

Creating these unique, personalized experiences not only increases revenue for operators, but also drives loyalty, as a loyal guest is more important than a one-time guest.

About Austen

Austen Asadorian is the Vice President of Sales at SevenRooms, where he is tasked with supporting SevenRooms’ global expansion efforts and accelerating the company’s goal of being the best-in-class solution for hospitality operators globally. Prior to joining SevenRooms, Austen was Peloton’s Director of Sales, leading the company’s go-to-market strategy for retail growth and expansion. He started his career at Hillstone Restaurant Group where he cut his teeth learning how to run efficient and profitable restaurants at scale. Austen was ultimately promoted into an executive role where he oversaw the company’s Manager in Training Program and Back of House Operations. Austen graduated from the Culinary Institute of America (CIA).

Image: Antonio Janeski

by David Klemt David Klemt No Comments

This Year’s Big Trend: Moderation

This Year’s Big Trend: Moderation

by David Klemt

Two drinks in mason jars

Beverage-top media platform Ripples is reporting 2022’s big drink trend, focusing heavily on Gen Z imbibing habits.

The unique company produces devices that make it possible to print images atop drinks. With beverages of all types as their focus, the company is a great position to study drink trends.

Interestingly, Ripples focuses primarily on Gen Z drinking habits. However, the company’s data identifies an intriguing trend that transcends a single generation.

Let’s jump in.

Zero-proof Beverage Growth

At KRG Hospitality, we appreciate numbers; we’re a data-driven agency. Well, amongst all the stats Ripples latest findings reveal, two are massive.

First, in comparison to 2019, zero-alcohol products are up 166 percent. Second, the non-alcohol category is growing four times faster than its low-ABV counterpart.

Another impressive number? Non-alcohol spirits have grown by over 113 percent since 2020.

Per Ripples, Gen Z is driving the growth in the no-alcohol space. According to the beverage-tech company, this is likely due to social media presence.

I’m sure you read articles at least from time to time about Gen Z social media habits. Those written by their older counterparts make it seem like Gen Z doesn’t understand the risks of recording their every action.

Well, it’s highly likely that much of Gen Z would rather not have their drunken shenanigans on display on every social platform.

Values Drive Purchase Decisions

Beyond risk aversion, Ripples identifies values as key to Gen Z purchase and consumption decisions.

Generally speaking, members of Gen Z value transparency and authenticity. Brands that share those values are more likely to succeed with Gen Z.

And, again, speaking broadly, smaller, independent brands are often perceived as more transparent, authentic, and responsible. Large, mainstream brands are often seen as anything but green and responsible, never mind transparent or authentic.

Ripples posits that small indies aren’t encountering daunting barriers to entry. So, small-batch, craft non-alcohol brands are apt to find Gen Z support.

Craft sodas, RTDs offering health benefits, and zero-proof cocktails in cans or bottles are flooding the market. And they’re finding success. In fact, according to Ripples, RTD sales are up 400 percent on Drizly since 2019.

The Big Trend

If you’re a listener of our Bar Hacks podcast you’ve likely heard our episodes with David Allison. If you haven’t heard them, they’re episode 46 and episode 67.

As the founder of the Valuegraphics Project, Allison isn’t a fan of focusing on demographic stereotypes. Instead, he recommends a focus on values in conjunction with demographic and psychographic data.

In part, the Valuegraphics Project approach encourages business owners and operators to identify and target their customers’ values. This is, according to Allison, far more powerful than focusing on age and sex. As important is the fact that demographics tend to divide us, and stereotypes are dangerous.

So, he and the Valuegraphics Project team probably wouldn’t like all the focus on a single generation in this article and Ripples’ findings. Well, there’s some good news and it pertains to what’s likely this year’s biggest drinking trend.

Across all generations, one drinking trend is common: Moderation. An interest in no- and low-alcohol beverages is shared among all generations.

In fact, according to Ripples, 78 percent of consumers purchasing zero-proof drinks aren’t doing so exclusively. These consumers are still buying they’re favorite full-alcohol beverages.

Takeaway

Leveraging the moderation trend is fairly simple. The growth of all zero-proof categories means operators can succeed with alcohol-free spirits, beer, and wine.

RTD cocktails—full-, low- and zero-proof—are selling very well and work in restaurants and bars.

In short, ensure you have low-ABV and zero-alcohol versions of your full-ABV drinks on your menu. Include these in a dedicated non-alcohol section.

Operators don’t need to be afraid of guests drinking more moderately. The stereotype that guests who choose zero- or low-proof drinks are bad for the bottom line simply isn’t true.

Image: Chris Curry on Unsplash

by David Klemt David Klemt No Comments

Square: 2022 Threats & Opportunities

Square: 2022 Threats & Opportunities

by David Klemt

Square terminal in restaurant kitchen

As all hospitality professionals know, the past nearly two years is imposing rapid change on the industry, necessitating rapid, strategic adaptation.

The key word in the above sentence isn’t “adaptation,” it’s “strategic.”

Of course, it’s hard to make strategic choices without as much information as possible.

To that end, we’ve reviewed Square‘s recently released “Future of Restaurants: 2022 Edition.” This is the company’s second annual Future of Restaurants report.

Square partnered with Wakefield Research, surveying 500 operators and 1,000 consumers to identify 2022 threats and opportunities.

Threat: Labor Shortage

Most operators aren’t going to want to read this prediction from Square. However, we can’t identify and adapt for opportunities if we don’t acknowledge threats.

Per Square’s report, the labor shortage may never see a correction. In other words, welcome to yet another new normal.

More than 70 percent of operators say they’re facing a labor shortage, per Square. Just over 20 percent of available positions were, at the time the survey was conducted, unfilled.

Instead, operators will likely, according to Square, need to make operational and work culture changes:

  • Improve working conditions. For example, encouraging and acting on team feedback. Another example? Modernizing scheduling.
  • Ensure workers are being mentored and not simply managed.
  • Hire, train, assign tasks, and schedule more strategically to operate with a smaller team.
  • Offering incentives that entice higher-quality candidates to work for you.

One participant quoted in the Square report claims that QR code ordering dropped their labor cost percentage by 150 percent.

Threat: Lack of Tech

As SevenRooms suggested when looking forward to 2022, technology solutions can lessen the burden of labor shortages. That leads us to another big threat: failing to embrace tech.

Some operators bristle at the word “automation.” For many, it conjures an image of robots in the kitchen and delivering food to tables.

Obviously, we’re opposed to replacing staff with any form of automation. However, we support automating tasks if that means team members are better utilized.

Why not automate inventory? Why not automate online order filling? If it improves operations and the guest experience, automation is less threatening.

According to Square’s report, 62 percent of operators think automation is appealing for managing online, delivery, and contactless orders. Ninety percent of operators say that back-of-house automation—if staff can focus on more important tasks—is a good idea.

More than 90 percent think automated inventory is an appealing solution.

It has taken a lot of time for hospitality to catch up to other industries in embracing tech. But Square reports that 36 percent of restaurants upgraded their business tech in 2021.

Of course, automation will become a threat if operators lean too heavily into it and stop paying attention to detail.

Phrased another way, be tech-savvy, not tech-reliant.

Opportunity: Omni-channel

Square see implementing an omni-channel strategy as the way forward. In fact, their general manager for Square Restaurants, Bryan Solar, said the following:

“We see the time of the dine-in only or takeout only as largely done forever.”

Going omni-channel (diversifying) in the restaurant space means making online ordering and delivery important elements within the overall business strategy. To that end, Solar posits kitchens will grow in size to better handle online orders.

Square’s survey reveals some intriguing numbers:

  • 13 percent of consumers say they’ll avoid restaurants that don’t offer online ordering.
  • Among restaurants with online ordering, those channels generate 34 percent of their revenue.
  • Over the past year, 54 percent of restaurants either added or expanded online ordering channels.
  • Online ordering is likely here to stay: 69 percent of respondents plan to offer it post-Covid-19.
  • 24 percent of operators are planning to allow guests to order alcohol from them online.

Another interesting set of numbers pertains to first- and third-party delivery. As we’ve stated several times, we much prefer operators offer first-party or direct delivery. According to Square, 49 percent of operators plan go direct delivery. More than half—62 percent—will pursue third-party delivery. That suggests that some operators will offer both.

Opportunity: Direct Ordering

When it comes to engaging online guests, operators need to control the experience. As I wrote for another publication years ago, a restaurant or bar’s website is still very important.

This statistic proves that statement true: Per Square, 68 percent of online guests want to order via a restaurant’s website or app, not a third-party.

More than likely, a significant portion of those guests want to know they’re supporting a restaurant and its staff directly. Hence the importance placed on ordering via the website or their own branded app.

So, operators would do well to ensure their websites feature an ordering widget. Or, they can opt to have an app built (or at least skinned) for their business.

Opportunity: Kiosks

According to Square’s survey results, 79 percent of consumers prefer ordering from kiosks over ordering from staff.

Most consumers and operators likely associate ordering kiosks with fast food restaurants. However, other categories can also benefit from these devices.

Close to half—45 percent—identified it as a preference when ordering at a casual-dining restaurant.

And fine dining isn’t immune to the convenience of tech. A little over 20 percent of consumers prefer to order via kiosk in the fine-dining space.

Overall, kiosks speak to the guest desires for convenience and safety. More than a third indicated that ordering via digital menu is appealing because they don’t have to touch a menu someone else has touched. And 37 percent like a digital option because they don’t have to wait for a server to bring them a physical menu.

Eleven percent of Square survey respondents will avoid a restaurant if they don’t offer digital menus.

Nearly half (45 percent) of restaurants are planning to offer QR code menus post-Covid-19. Another benefit of digital menus is dynamic pricing. As costs fluctuate, operators can increase or reduce prices easily without printing new menus.

Outlook

Representing a stark contrast from 2020 survey results, nearly 60 percent of operators say the survival of their restaurants is a concern in 2022.

That’s still a high number but vastly lower than how operators answered about 2021. Last year, 92 percent of operators surveyed said they were worried about survival.

According to Square’s report, operators are looking past surviving and making long-term plans. That’s a welcome sign that confidence is improving.

To review Square’s “Future of Restaurants: 2022 Edition” report in its entirety, click here.

Image: Patrick Tomasso on Unsplash

by David Klemt David Klemt No Comments

SevenRooms Predicts 2022

SevenRooms Predicts 2022

by David Klemt

SevenRooms guest data image

As we near the end of a tumultuous 2021 we must look ahead to 2022 to set our industry up for best strategies, innovations, and recovery.

SevenRooms is doing just that, looking at what operators should consider to meet guest expectations next year.

In a blog post on the company’s website, SevenRooms reveals what they believe are the keys to success in 2022.

Let’s jump in.

More is More

The first quarter of 2022 will mark two years of the pandemic and its affects on the industry.

As SevenRooms says, some guests will not have been out of their homes for two years. The company predicts this contingent will be looking to unleash pent-up demand.

Of course, that represents an opportunity for operators. Another wave of pent-up demand can mean a boost in traffic and revenue.

However, guest expectations will be sky high. That cliché that less is more? Yeah, you can toss that right out.

More will be more for this contingent of guests looking to dine and drink out after feeling cooped up for month after endless month.

Sure, some guests are aware that operators are facing labor shortages, increased costs, and other pandemic-driven challenges. They know that workers are overwhelmed and finding themselves in hostile confrontations they certainly don’t deserve.

And sure, some guests are sympathetic to those struggles. However, they have their demands and expect restaurants, bars, and hotels to meet them.

What can operators do to meet those demands? In fact, what can they do to anticipate and overdeliver on guest expectations?

SevenRooms has a couple suggestions.

Collect guest data. At this point, this should be a given. How can an operator engage with and retain guests if they don’t really know anything about them?

Embrace more tech. Platforms like SevenRooms can handle a restaurant or bar’s reservations quickly and easily. This is a feature that, per SevenRooms, more than half of guests expect a restaurant or bar offer. Some platforms can also automate marketing; send guests post-visit surveys; and tackle review aggregation.

Convenience Reigns Supreme

Here’s a quick, impromptu survey:

Do you prefer a seamless restaurant, bar or hotel experience, or do you like frustrating dining, drinking and lodging experiences?

I’m going to go ahead and assume you prefer the former option. In other words, you like what your guests like: convenience.

Well, SevenRooms is predicting that the desire for convenience will only grow stronger among guests.

Yes, delivering on the increasingly important topic of convenience will rely on collecting data. But rather than view it as just one more task, SevenRoom suggests looking at it in a more positive light.

A number of the conveniences guests expect can be automated. They can even help ease the burden of the labor shortage somewhat.

For example, contactless ordering and contactless pay are close to becoming standards. Offering those features to guests means meeting expectations, thereby delivering an excellent guest experience. On-demand ordering and paying can also ease some front- and back-of-house pressure.

Collecting guest data allows management and front-of-house staff to add personal touches before a guest is even seated. Again, seamless, excellent guest service.

Another convenience? Online ordering. SevenRooms isn’t the first to predict that on-demand ordering is here to stay. In fact, a suite of conveniences will be important moving forward:

  • Online ordering during in-person visits and for delivery or pickup.
  • A user-friendly reservation system that goes deeper than just picking a date and time. Why not allow guests to select seats and even request upgrades?
  • A virtual waitlist. Not only is this convenient, SevenRooms says this feature can boost walk-in traffic and reduce abandonment.
  • Contactless, mobile paying options.

There you have it. Two seemingly basic predictions—higher expectations and a desire for even more convenience—with the potential to boost traffic, loyalty, and revenue.

Image: SevenRooms

by David Klemt David Klemt No Comments

Canadian Trends 2022: Technomic

Canadian Trends 2022: Technomic

by David Klemt

Yellow neon "butter" sign and scaffolding

Curious about what to expect in 2022 as a Canadian restaurant, bar or hotel operator?

Technomic has some predictions for next year.

Reviewing their “Canadian Trends: Looking Ahead to 2022” report, creativity and streamlining will be keys to success.

Let’s jump in!

Butter

Yes, this is why I chose the image above. Technomic is very specifically identifying butter as an important 2022 F&B trend.

And no, they don’t appear to be predicting the popularity a particularly rare or esoteric butter. The industry intelligence firm means butter will prove important in 2022.

In large part, Technomic is pointing to comfort food as a driver for butter.

Generally, the firm points to how versatile butter is in the kitchen. Browned and herb-infused butters, says Technomic, will find its way into cocktails.

Flavor and texture will play an important role, extending the butter prediction into buttery foods territory. For example, Technomic predicts butterscotch, buttermilk and ghee will see a boost in usage and demand.

Additionally, the plant-based movement will help nut butters grow more popular. In fact, Technomic says nut butters will find their ways onto burgers and into cocktails.

Interestingly, the firm’s butter prediction gives operators two larger trends to watch: comfort food and plant-based.

Cross-utilization

You don’t need me to tell you that North America—and the rest of the world—is facing supply chain issues.

I know you’re exhausted from just the past nearly two years of constant adaptation and pivoting. In 2022, you’ll have to continue with your creative problem solving.

The supply chain challenge (there’s an understatement) requires creativity in several areas. This includes the kitchen and menu.

Technomic suggests that one path forward through supply chain problems involves ingredient preparations:

  • Pickling
  • Candying
  • Salt-baking

The firm says these creative takes on ingredients operators already have will extend product life; add new flavors to dishes; and deliver new textures. Those last two offer guests new experiences.

In addition, getting creative with the ingredients you may be able to get more readily will help streamline and update 2022 menus. However, revising your menu will require careful consideration of your supply chain and cross-utilization, with a heavy helping of creative prep.

Running Lean

Smaller footprints. Shrunken staff. Streamlined menus. Smaller, shrunken, streamlined, optimized, leaner…

Call the process whatever you want, Technomic is predicting that operators will need to “optimize” (read: make smaller) their businesses.

Of course, there isn’t a one-size-fits-all solution. We’ve read and heard predictions since last year about what will need to shrink moving forward.

While some recent news reports say that ghost kitchens are out, Technomic seems to think that’s not the case. Technomic suggests ghost kitchens will remain viable for operators who want to expand without investing in real estate.

Additionally, Technomic’s report suggests something that should come as no surprise. In short, if it works for a brand or location, smaller may be better and here to stay.

Growth

Now, this is the most promising of Technomic’s predictions: Growth.

Per the firm, the foodservice industry in Canada was down 29 percent in Q1 of 2021. Pre-pandemic, sales reached $95 billion. That represents a loss of nearly $30 billion.

However, there’s reason to be optimistic in 2022, according to Technomic.

The firm expects growth of 21 percent in 2022 over 2021, or sales of $74.8 billion. Should this prediction prove accurate, 2022 would close just three percent under pre-pandemic sales.

Technomic identifies full-service as the foodservice segment to experience the most growth next year at 26.2 percent. In comparison, the firm predicts limited-service to grow 7.3 percent.

Next year won’t be easy. 2022 won’t be a magical return to normalcy. But there is room for optimism if Technomic’s predictions are correct.

Image: Jon Tyson on Unsplash

by David Klemt David Klemt No Comments

Hard Numbers for the Holidays

Hard Numbers for the Holidays

by David Klemt

Classic vintage Dodge pickup truck with winter wreath on grille

From comfort foods and specific seasonal flavors to LTOs and traditional tastes, data reveal what consumers want this holiday season.

As we reported last week, there’s reason to be optimistic about this year’s holiday season.

According to Datassential, consumers are eager to visit sit-down restaurants this month. One of their key findings was that the average group size will likely be smaller than normal.

Specifically, most groups will probably consist of seven to 12 guests. Crucially, Datassential sees potential from people eager to gather with family and friends for the holidays. Even better, of all options, sit-down restaurants are the top choice for gatherings outside of homes.

But drilling down deeper, what do guests want from restaurants during the holidays?

The Numbers

So, when it comes to the holidays, Datassential wants operators to remember that December includes more than Christmas and New Year’s Eve.

To that end, the first numbers I’m presenting are dates:

  • Hanukkah: November 28 to December 6 (ends this evening!)
  • Soyal: December 21
  • Christmas: December 25
  • Boxing Day: December 26
  • Kwanzaa: December 26 to January 1
  • New Year’s Eve: December 31
  • New Year’s Day: January 1

Those dates reveal something compelling: Plenty of opportunity to get creative and ramp up limited-time offers. Per Datassential, nearly half (44 percent) of consumers look forward to seasonal, holiday-themed LTOs.

In fact, roughly two out of five consumers find seasonality to be an important factor in their decisions to order LTOS and new menu items.

However, it’s important to know your audience and brand when coming up with special menu items. That’s because according to Datassential, 62 percent of consumers, at least for 2021, want classics and comfort food this season.

So, Datassential cautions operators against veering “too far” from traditional seasonal menu items and comfort foods. That said, you should know how far outside the box you can push your guests.

The Flavors

We’re not technically out of the fall just yet. The start of winter is December 21.

It can be smart to begin transitioning from fall to winter flavors over the next week or so. However, it may not be wise to toss fall flavors out entirely.

Datassential identifies the following as key fall flavors:

  • Apple cranberry
  • Butternut squash
  • Chestnut
  • Duck
  • Pumpkin pie
  • Stuffing

And these are important winter flavors, per Datassential:

  • Chocolate almond
  • Candy cane
  • Lobster cream
  • Lox
  • Red velvet
  • Toasted coconut

Those are by no means the only fall and winter flavors that will appeal to your guests. However, Datassential identifies them as top fall and winter flavors.

Something to think about when finalizing your winter LTO food and beverage menus.

Another thing to think about? Updating your listings to include holiday hours, LTOs, and other menu changes.

Image: Ryan Wallace on Unsplash

by David Klemt David Klemt No Comments

Global Cuisine Performance

Global Cuisine Performance

by David Klemt

Cook making handmade pasta noodles

We don’t have a crystal ball to help us see which cuisines will be most popular. Obviously, the same holds true for knowing which are just now getting recognition.

However, we do have the next-best thing: data from Datassential.

Recently, the food and beverage analytics firm ranked dozens of global cuisines according to their current state of popularity among diners.

Then, they shared that information in October during their “Around the World in 80 Trends” webinar.

“Ubiquity”

When analyzing food and beverage trends, Datassential funnels them into four distinct designations: Inception, Adoption, Proliferation, and Ubiquity.

Arguably, once a trend reaches Proliferation and Ubiquity it becomes a mainstay. So, we can more than likely stop referring to it as a trend.

Now, the two most precarious stages for a trend are Inception and Adoption. Plenty of trends die on the Inception vine. Several won’t make it out of Adoption.

When you see Datassential’s list of global cuisines that fly under the Ubiquity banner, I doubt there will be much surprise:

  • Italian
  • Southern
  • Mexican
  • Creole/Cajun
  • Tex Mex
  • Chinese

So, any shocks to your system there? Most likely not.

“Proliferation”

Another to label this Datassential designation is “second most popular.” Each of these cuisines has a clear shot at reaching Ubiquity.

In fact, I find one of the global cuisines in this category surprising. It’s the first one in this list:

  • Japanese
  • Regional Italian
  • Regional Mexican
  • Greek
  • Mediterranean
  • Regional US
  • Southwestern
  • Cuban

As you’ll see, the lists grow longer steadily as we move down from Ubiquity.

“Adoption”

For me, it’ll be interesting to review follow-up data from Datassential regarding global cuisines.

As such, I’m eager to learn which cuisine from the list below reaches Proliferation in 2022:

  • Caribbean
  • Indian
  • French
  • Regional Chinese
  • Oaxacan
  • German
  • Middle Eastern
  • Korean
  • Ashkenazi
  • Hawaiian
  • Vietnamese
  • Venezuelan
  • Spanish
  • Sicilian
  • Jamaican
  • Israeli
  • Thai
  • British

To be honest, my first reaction to seeing French cuisine under the Adoption banner was surprise. Of course, I then thought back to how many French restaurants we have here in Las Vegas.

Sure, this little city in the desert is a foodie destination. However, French restaurants don’t dot the landscape like those that focus on other cuisines.

“Inception”

That brings us to the first stage of any trend: Inception.

Now, the first thing you’ll notice is that this category contains the most global cuisines. Whereas Adoption features 18, Proliferation lists eight, and a mere six have reached Ubiquity, Inception identifies two dozen.

They are as follows:

  • Brazilian
  • Mizrahi
  • Russian
  • Malaysian
  • Croatian
  • Moroccan
  • Lebanese
  • South African
  • Native American
  • Central American
  • Argentinian
  • Peruvian
  • Filipino
  • Appalachian
  • Sephardic
  • Ethiopian
  • Senegalese
  • Scandinavian
  • Sonoran
  • Nigerian
  • Iranian
  • Persian
  • Turkish
  • Polish

Again, there are some surprises here, at least for me. For example, I expected Ethiopian cuisine to have reached Adoption by now.

Takeaways

Of course, there are multiple ways to interpret this data.

First, you can embrace Ubiquity, leveraging their incredible popularity. However, standing out and building traffic will be challenging.

Second, you can feature Proliferation cuisine. Sure, these have yet to reach the Ubiquity stage. But they’re close to doing so, and you’ll also face stiff competition.

Third, focusing on cuisine from the Adoption designation involves taking a risk but mitigating it somewhat. These cuisines are developing a following and guest demand.

Finally, the riskiest move, depending on location: featuring Inception cuisines. But with risk comes reward. Identify a gap in a certain area—something we can do with our signature feasibility studies—and you may realize staggering success.

So, what do you think? Did you find any of Datassential’s designations surprising for certain cuisines? Let us know on our Instagram, Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn pages!

Image: Jorge Zapata on Unsplash

by David Klemt David Klemt No Comments

Things Looking Up For December

Things Looking Up For December

by David Klemt

Friends toasting with Champagne outside during the winter

Food and beverage research and analytics firm Datassential’s end-of-year insights point to a positive outlook for restaurants in December.

While many consumers still have reservations about spending time in public, others are eager to return to “normal.”

Restaurants and bars are expected to play an important role in reaching normalcy this holiday season.

Let’s take a look at Datassential’s 2021 Holiday Issue statistics.

Hesitancy Waning?

Let’s get the less-promising data out of the way first. Some consumers still find the idea of in-person restaurant visits uncomfortable.

Nearly half of Boomers surveyed by Datassential (46 percent) said they’re “significantly less likely” to visit a fast-casual or fast-food restaurant in December.

And, interestingly, 42 percent of men gave the same answer for visiting traditional sit-down restaurants.

However, of all the in-person options presented to participants by Datassential, restaurants performed the best.

More than half of all respondents—men, women, Gen Z, Millennials, Gen X, Boomers—plan to visit fast-casual, fast-food, and sit-down restaurants more in December than they have in recent months.

It’s most likely that anticipation for restaurant visits is driven by the desire to gather and celebrate the holidays.

Overall, 57 percent of respondents plan to visit fast-casual and fast-food restaurants more. And 47 percent expect to visit sit-down restaurants more.

That makes those two options the top answers.

Only 16 percent of respondents indicated they don’t plan on visiting any on-site foodservice venues.

Regarding bars, sports bars, lounges, and nightclubs, men are “significantly more likely” (23 percent) to visit those types of venues in December.

Holiday Opportunity

According to Datassential’s report, the opportunity for holiday bookings is out there.

More than likely, gatherings will simply be smaller than they were prior to the pandemic.

Asked about plans to gather at restaurants in December, get-togethers are expected to be “moderately sized.”

Almost half of survey respondents (44 percent) plan on gathering at restaurants in parties of seven to twelve.

Just over a quarter (29 percent) plan on get-togethers of six or fewer of people. Only 18 percent of respondents are planning large (13 to 18 people) gatherings at restaurants in December.

As far as parties of 19 or more, just nine percent of respondents plan “very large” gatherings.

Of course, individual operations’ results will vary. However, this information gives us an idea of what traffic may look like for many operators.

2021 Spending

This is where the news looks even better for restaurants, bars and nightclubs in December.

When asked about spending money on going out to eat and for drinks, just 18 percent of respondents said they planned to spend less this year than in 2020.

Very nearly half (49 percent) plan to spend the same as they did last year. However, 32 percent said they think they’ll increase their spending.

When it comes to New Year’s Eve, the numbers shift a bit. However, 50 percent of respondents plan to spend the same on NYE in 2021 as they did in 2020.

Twenty-six percent plan to spend more on NYE in 2021. Just 24 percent plan to spend less this year on NYE.

Per Datassential, Millennials are most likely to splash out for NYE this year.

So, things won’t be returning to pre-pandemic normalcy by 2021’s end. However, if Datassentials findings prove accurate, things are looking healthier for December.

Image: Christine Jou on Unsplash

Top