Flexibility is key. Joe Carbonara, Editor in Chief of Foodservice Equipment & Supplies, continuously stressed this in his presentation at the NRA Show in Chicago back in May of this year. I attended his educational session on “The Impact of Today’s Foodservice Trends on Foodservice Equipment, Design and More” and the big idea was that in order to keep up with today’s trends, it is critical for the foodservice industry to be flexible in order to stay relevant and meet customer demands.
The top 5 key takeaways from Joe’s presentation on emerging trends that I personally have seen supported through my discussions with clients and industry research are:
- Menus are getting back to the basics. Trends such as scratch cooking and local/seasonal sourcing of foods are impacting the need for commercial cooking equipment. Many foodservice operations are looking closely at their refrigeration needs, purchasing more refrigerators over freezers in order to keep ingredients fresh.
- Technology is on the rise. Millennials are gaining more influence in the foodservice industry and demanding easier, more efficient service. Technology like ordering kiosks, apps and innovative equipment can help speed up service and reduce labor costs. ROI is driving the innovation and acceptance of these new technologies.
- Space is a premium. In order to maximize space, the restaurant back-of-house is shrinking which increases the need for kitchen equipment with smaller footprints.
- Sustainability is key. Foodservice operations are constantly looking for ways to reduce costs, waste and inefficiencies. Foodservice equipment manufacturers must develop innovative solutions to meet this demand and help operators have more sustainable kitchens.
- Equipment must facilitate a great customer experience. Combination cooking equipment to increase flexibility, beverage service equipment, rapid cooking equipment to keep up with the demand for faster food preparation and equipment for merchandising and display items for the increase in grab-and-go eating are among the most desired and necessary equipment for today’s operations.
As the industry continues to evolve, it’s crucial to stay ahead of the trends impacting foodservice operations. After all, the ability to solve challenges and continually innovate to meet customer demands is what ultimately gets results.