What does the future have in store for the food and drink industry? As the industry is often known for its challenging and competitive environment, this is a question often asked to make sure your business stays on top of its game. Especially with the recent upheaval in all businesses due to Covid-19, knowing what may be in store for the future is important like never before.
The pandemic continues to remain the highest influence on trends this year, and we can see its effect in everything from what food we want to eat to how we want to eat it. Even why we want to eat it. This has provided space for both high risk and high reward, as we see businesses having to swiftly adapt – in some cases, rapidly.
Following Gulfood 2022, one of the world’s largest F&B events, Simon-Kucher and Partners have shared their expert insight into the three ways your business can keep on top of the latest trends in the food and beverage landscape, even increase your revenue whilst you do so.
- Look to adapt your business model
Technology has always been interlinked with the food and beverage arena. From fast-food to new ways to present dishes, technology can help businesses with increased desire for speed, achieving continuity in quality and keeping food at a good price. Now, technology is helping create an entirely new food service model. Cloud or “ghost” kitchens have proved in recent years that, instead of the radical model they were seen to be, they are not only here to stay, but competing well at that.
Cloud kitchens are where a business shares a kitchen, often using technology in different ways to establish orders, or deliver food. This new food service model has advantages such as easier expansion, increased efficiency, multiple brands under one roof and lower investment. This has led to this particular technology-based model being expected to exceed US $71.4 billion by 2027, whilst more than 70% of those currently using dine-in models in the UAE are looking to invest in cloud kitchens.
Across markets, we are also seeing an expansion in this cloud model. Kuwait’s first cloud-kitchen operator, KLC Virtual Restaurants, already has plans to double its current operations in the coming years, which will include ten new kitchens in Saudi Arabia, with kitchens in Bahrain and Qatar to follow. UAE-based brands Kaykroo and Sweetheart Kitchen are following suit with 45 more stories in Saudi Arabia on the horizon by the end of this year.
This suggests that more traditional brands in the food service sector should begin to explore these cloud kitchen models, or perhaps other ways of outsourcing, so as not to risk increasing competition. Businesses should look to understand what services could benefit from technology to further expand revenue opportunities and what business models will work the best for them.
- Keep an eye on the environment
This has been an increasingly important trend over the years, but now more so than ever. Consumers expect to receive sustainable and healthy products that fit into both their lifestyle and their ethical consumption, driven by a desire to reduce unethical eating practices and increase both environmentally responsible and organic produce. Consumers care about the planet, and therefore so should you.
In fact, consumers want to engage with conscious living so much that they’re willing to pay extra for it. Nearly 90% of consumers in the Middle East are not only looking for these healthier, sustainable eating options but are willing for them to have a higher price-tag, too. Meanwhile, more than 60% of UAE consumers have noticed the link between purchasing and whether the product has sustainable or natural influences.
This has led to rapid innovation and investment in the MENA region; the UAE have recently seen the launch of the F&B Innovation Lab, created concepts for the industry that are specifically linked to sustainability and health, whilst Sarya Holdings – the company known for launching vertical farming idea Smart Acres – has created its own health-conscious food line.
To get the most of this trend, keep one eye on the environment and how it plays into your products. There may be a way to revise an existing product to create a new, environmentally focused offering, or space to create new products altogether. As climate change awareness increases, it’s safe to say that this trend will only exponentially increase with it.
- The customer is always right
The age-old adage is coming into play this year as consumers, more than ever, are expecting to see personalization when they buy their food and beverage products. Product recommendations, promotions, deals and even direct communication are some of the ways that consumers are looking to feel that they are truly valued for their custom, especially in an increasingly digital environment.
The facts speak for themselves: nearly 90% of consumers in the UAE are more likely to buy from a platform that personalizes their content to the customer, whilst a majority of consumers will also actively seek out online stores that have specific, personalized content offerings.
Carrefour is an example of one of the leading companies using data collection to better target both existing and potential customers, using its centralized database, as well as real-time data and data from IoT devices, to align its promoted products to the correct customer through their preferred communication style or platform.
To keep on top of this particular trend, then, customer service is key. Making the customer feel as if they are the center of the business is the best way to keep on top of your game. Investing in personalization strategies, communications and customer engagement is the best way to use this trend to your advantage.
These trends in the F&B landscape are only likely to grow and become more established in 2022. Players able to adapt to new ways of thinking and see how their current offerings fit with new trends are those that will see increased revenue as consumers see that they are fitting their needs.