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10 Trends Shaping Hospitality and Wholesale (Hint: They’re Not About Coronavirus)

Covid-19 is impacting people and the economy. But there are also many other issues that are causing lasting change in wholesale and hospitality. We present 10 trends.

No doubt about it: the global pandemic is affecting virtually all aspects of life and work. Measures and restrictions have had a massive impact, particularly for restaurants and hotels. Yet many other trends are also shaking up hospitality, trade and wholesale – and will likely continue to do so even in a (near) future not completely dominated by coronavirus. Here are 10 trendsetting developments in the food sector.

Functional Foods

Multitasking is a must – not just for employees, but also for food: ‘Functional foods’ are expected to provide more than mere nourishment. Enhanced with additional ingredients, functional foods are designed to deliver health benefits. Examples include probiotic yogurt as well as juices and breakfast beverages enriched with calcium or antioxidants like vitamin E. The positive effects, however, are not always scientifically proven. This trend originated in Japan, where it is skyrocketing.

Convenience food is all the rage. In 2020, Europeans consumed an average of 20.1 kg of these products per capita. This figure was around 17 kg in 2019, and the forecast for 2021 is 18.7 kg. Whether you’re eating in your home office between meetings and childcare or during a normal workday at your regular office – sometimes speed is of the essence. From ready-to-eat sushi to re-heatable soup, the convenience range is growing, and it’s affecting both wholesale and the hospitality industry.

Easy as pie
Protein, please

High-protein foods have long since ceased to be niche products for the bodybuilding scene. The wholesale and food retail industry as well as cafés and bakeries now also stock items such as high-protein bread and rolls. Loading up on protein while cutting down on carbs is the recipe for success – and this makes the products both tasty and filling.

While it may sound like a contradiction of trend no. 1, ‘less is more’ in fact applies to the number of ingredients many consumers now prefer. The idea is that the shorter the list of ingredients, the better. Of course, this is not entirely compatible with the demand for convenience products, which cannot always do without preservatives and other additives. But that also points to huge development potential for the food industry: creating ready-made meals that contain as few additives as possible.

'Free'-dom
It’s all clicking into place

In the hospitality industry, it’s the individual experience that makes a visit special, while in retail it is personal service. Digital solutions can enhance both – with options such as ordering and reservation tools, or dynamic digital shelf labels in wholesale stores. Recent studies have shown that digitalisation is on the rise in hospitality. A full 72% of businesses say that digital measures have boosted their ability to compete during the pandemic.

Organic and regionally sourced meats are not the only meat trends that are finding favour lately. In many countries – chiefly in northern and western Europe – consumers are eating less meat. But when they do, they are choosing better quality. Also, meat substitutes are growing not only more flavourful, but also noticeably more popular.

'Meating’ new needs
Regional and seasonal

Most people in Germany prefer to buy regionally sourced food that is in season (with some exceptions, such as avocados and oranges). Consumers consider regionally sourced products fresher, higher quality and more nutritious. As is so often the case, the sweet spot – especially for hospitality – is to be found in a combination: Wholesale and regional sourcing complement each other and guarantee optimum quality for customers.

Whether it’s zero waste or innovative packaging, sustainability is one of the megatrends that relates to many other aspects, from procurement and production all the way to external communications. Consumers don’t just want to buy a ‘good feeling’ – they demand transparency and genuine engagement. Commercial operators can harness this to make an active contribution toward protecting the environment – by reducing their restaurant’s carbon footprint, for example – while also appealing to new target groups and inspiring their guests by offering sustainable products.

The sustainability spectrum
Not what, but how

Hand-stirred, slow-baked, cold-pressed – the production and history behind the products are playing an ever greater role in customers’ expectations. The result is treats like slow-brew beer and overnight oats. Who would have thought just a few years ago that cafés would be selling porridge like hotcakes at breakfast time? 

Many restaurants and dishes that used to be considered unusual are now far from exotic. The gastronomy landscape is growing ever more diverse, as are the inspirations on our stovetops at home. Fusion and crossover foods go a step further, combining ingredients that are, culinarily speaking, worlds apart. To name just a few: sushi burritos, cronuts (donuts made from croissant pastry), cruffins (muffin-shaped croissants), doner kebab pizza. Retailers are adjusting their offerings accordingly. So, regardless of whether physical travel is possible or not, we can at least take a culinary journey. It’s a trend that will certainly be around for a while – with or without coronavirus.

International cuisine – takeaway, eat at home

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