Founding Director of the Foodservice Network
Over the past decade, food businesses have created detailed maps of the terrain they wish to 'conquer' and developed operational guides and strategic briefs on how to achieve this. With COVID-19, the maps are really no longer accurate and many of the accompanying operational guides, no longer instructive.
Planning failures and financial cuts are being exposed by the COVID-19 pandemic. In the world of food, too, planning is needed both to deal with short-term emergencies and to address longer-term risks.
The coronavirus pandemic has revealed just how much we depend on easy access to food. The beginning of the UK’s lockdown saw the closure of restaurants and pubs, and empty supermarket shelves. The number of people who are struggling to access food because of financial difficulties has dramatically swelled.
The arrival of online food delivery platforms, bringing greater choice and convenience, has revolutionized the way we purchase and consume food. The capability of ordering food for delivery with a single tap of your mobile phone, whether it be your weekly supply, a meal box or a hot and ready to eat meal is the result of a series of technological and digital innovations that have as yet to run their full course.
There has been a lot of noise on cryptocurrencies and Bitcoin of late. While some suggest cryptocurrencies are a fraud, others believe them to be the next biggest economic revolution the world has seen since the internet. Bitcoin has brought to light blockchain technology, which offers great potential for food safety and verification in the agrifood sector. Yet it is far from being the panacea for a range of issues affecting the industry — at least for now.
The exponential growth in home food delivery is changing not only the way we purchase and consume food, it is also changing the way Restaurants and Food Retailers design and build their restaurants and shops.
Amazon, without doubt, has been broadening the reach of the world's most advanced logistics platform and is now sharpening its focus on food. Food management (production, packaging, service, delivery, etc) is however a very complex business and Amazon's recent closure of its restaurant delivery service in the UK is very likely to be a full acknowledgement of this.
Food Delivery Orders (Deliveroo, Uber Eats, Just Eat) are said to be increasing 30 times faster than for the overall foodservice industry. Meal kits (HelloFresh, Gousto and Mindful Chef) now account for more than 5 million meals a month in the UK. In the US in 2018, Delivery orders in accounted for more than 9% of all restaurant sales. In London, the current figure is 12%.