It has been almost two years since the Covid-19 outbreak turned the food and beverage industry upside down, and restaurateurs are now hoping for a return to complete normalcy. As the rest of the world adjusts to a new normal, numerous restaurants and chains are working hard to meet the demands of their customers, while adhering to set safety protocols.
Innovation at the centre stage: In the midst of it all, restaurants have opted to alter their menus to cater to the country’s want for comfort food. Takeaway menus were introduced to compensate for shut restaurants because people were a lot more comfortable eating in the safety of their own homes. Ghost Kitchens, also known as Cloud Kitchens or dark Kitchens, soon became one of the many evolving business changes that restaurants implemented, to combat the pandemic's economic demands and the hit they took, financially.
Safety is the key: While the opening of restaurants was uncertain through the lockdown phases, things began to look up in 2021 – the roll out of vaccinations saw a drop in positive cases. However, it was an unspoken fact that nothing was going to ever be like before. Precautionary measures had to be taken and the safety of food had become a huge, but crucial priority. Restaurants adopted more stringent hygienic practices in food preparation and daily temperature of the staff were recorded.
Technology is the future: Another step that was observed was the increase in contactless payments, across industries. This was due to the rising concerns of contracting Covid-19 through contaminated surfaces. This measure was swiftly adopted by restaurants and hotel chains, across the globe. Menus were digitized for the aforementioned reason and a QR code had to be scanned to access the menus and place orders.
The rise of conscious eaters: For many of us, the pandemic has been a great teaching and learning experience. We've learned that our bodies and immune systems require attention and effort, and that the unhealthy lifestyle we had up until this point, where meals were few and far between, while also putting our bodies through the mental stress of surviving a pandemic no one knew about, was detrimental to our health. As a result of the populace's fear of the unknown, they willingly shifted to a more healthier diet, taking supplements, going on juice detoxes and cleanses, and going on walks, but little did they realize that it was all for naught unless one important factor—our diet—was changed. As time passed, many people realized the same and thus conscious eating became took the center stage. Adapting to these demands, brands across the Food and Beverage industry tweaked their offerings to a cleaner and healthier version.
Ensuring portion control: The pandemic has altered and shaped people's perspectives, experiences, and expectations on the daily. As consumers sought to establish their footing in the new universe of options available to them, food has served as both a source of comfort and aggravation. Food that is leftover by the consumer is one of the worst types of wastage because it cannot be recycled. This motivated the discontinuation of over serving and ensuring portion control. Keeping safety protocols in mind, individual plating gained increased popularity during the pandemic.
The rise of home chefs: Another very interesting concept that came around during the pandemic has been budding Home Chefs. With the ‘work from home’ concept, many rekindled their passion for cooking and worked on fine-tuning their culinary skills. Over the past year, we have seen many budding home chefs turning to entrepreneurship. It is wonderful to see the variety and innovation in the food they have created.
In conclusion, the year 2021 has been yet another challenging year for the food and beverage industry, but with the acceptance that change is the only constant, this industry just like the rest, will adapt and carry on to its best potential. Here is hoping year 2022 proves to be the light at the end of this tunnel.
Eat healthy and stay safe!