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Taste of the Future

26 September 2012

To investigate the key trends likely to have the greatest impact on the foodservice sector over the next three years, the Foodservice Consultants Society International UK & Ireland (FCSI) interviewed industry consultants from among its membership.

It surveyed 64 consultants on key sector trends, then conducted in-depth online interviews with many to investigate these trends in more detail. The research was carried out for FCSI by Allegra Strategies.

The report finds sustainability, economic challenges and healthier eating top of the industry agenda. Although sustainability is likely to have the biggest impact on foodservice over the next three years, the research revealed that the sector is still failing to take the issue seriously, perhaps reluctant to take on the sheer complexity of delivering a sustainable offer and the cost this entails.

Rising costs and austerity measures are highlighted as the second biggest trend. Consultants sound a warning to the sector against relying on cost-cutting during these difficult economic times. Investment in a quality offer and training personnel to deliver quality service will be vital for foodservice firms to remain competitive in this environment.

The study also reveals that healthy eating has reached a tipping point, and that foodservice must step up to fully support consumers to achieve the healthier diets they are striving for.

Chairman of FCSI UK & Ireland, David Bentley, says: “The foodservice sector has been squeezed on a number of fronts: persistently tough trading conditions; the VAT increase; a culture of discounting; a growing appetite for casual dining and an intensifying government focus on healthy eating in the face of rising obesity levels.

“If the last three years have been turbulent, the next three promise to be equally testing. But as Benjamin Disraeli said: “the secret of success in life is for a man to be ready for his opportunity when it comes.” For the foodservice sector, being ready will mean not just meeting current challenges, but preparing for future trends and prioritising the areas that will deliver growth. Our report sets out to outline the future issues and growth opportunities that the industry should be aware of.”

The Report concludes: “To deliver a truly sustainable offer, the sector needs to devote more than lipservice to the challenge. There is no doubting the complexities, but the sector should begin by taking a serious look at existing energy management systems and monitoring methods, developing more efficient waste plans and waste disposal systems, continuing to make use of the latest recycling technology and working with suppliers to put more local food on the menu.

“Cost is a significant barrier to creating a sustainable foodservice offer. But with imagination and determination, the drive to achieve this goal could actually cut costs in the long term.

“Effective cost cutting will be at the forefront of most business’s agenda in an environment of rising costs and austerity, but our consultants warn the foodservice sector against radical cuts. Firms should ensure that cuts do not reduce the quality of product or service, and with it their competitive edge.

To capitalise on existing opportunities for growth, the sector should instead be considering investing in its people, make the most of increasing tourism and looking at ways to deliver increased customer loyalty.”

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