New Delhi. : The F&B industry world over has gone through a complete metamorphosis in the last one year. Many unthinkable trends emerged and the industry which is still in a state of flux is trying to find its lost ground after being through one of the worst pandemic the world has ever seen. Many shutters came down, some reopened with new vision, some re-defined themselves and many are forging ahead in their new avatars. Lot of rejig and re-invention has taken place with technology taking a big leap. Food establishments are going that extra mile to retain their loyal customers and adding new ones even as customers are lapping up all the attention from the comfort and safety of their homes.
Food deliveries have now become an essential element of the foodservice landscape
Changing trends in food safety, hygiene and more
New trends are still emerging as the F&B industry is seeing a mega shift from the way it has been functioning all these years. And leading the change is food technology. With stringent food safety norms in place, restaurants have shown much diligence in maintaining high standards of hygiene. Commercial kitchens are moving towards automation in order to maintain food hygiene, cut on manpower cost and overall serve customers better with the latest technology. State-of-the-art hot preparation systems are fast finding their place in Commercial kitchens including Cloud kitchens across the country and changing the way kitchens function. Latest in the block is RATIONAL iCombi Pro which is a smart combi-oven that can work wonders with minimal human intervention. The chef can curate his/her dishes with easy programming options. This smart combi-oven never compromises on quality, can multi-load and can self clean. Technology has also changed the consumer experience completely; from electronic menu cards to food ordering apps.
Rise in food deliveries. Gourmet food also takes home delivery route.
Another change that is here to stay, for quite some time, is the shift from dine-in experiences to home deliveries. The food delivery space in recent months has seen double digit growth and the graph is still very encouraging. In the last one year, the food delivery eco-system has evolved in many ways, making the home delivery system beneficial for both, the restaurants/cloud kitchens and the consumer. With almost everyone joining the home delivery and take-away bandwagon, consumers too are responding favourably. What is significant, however, is the fact that even the fine dining brands and leading 5-Star restaurants who are delivering a la-carte menus to their customers for the first time ever. An year back this was completely unthinkable. Name any leading hotel chain, and they all have some or the other food delivery programme that is serving their long deprived customers the most delectable gourmet spread. Tier II cities across the country too have taken to the new trend of food deliveries with gusto. Cities like Pune and Jaipur to name a few are showing increased traction alongside the metro cities.
Change as always is good
The pandemic has reshaped the industry in more ways than one. Suddenly, both, the chefs and the consumers are turning towards healthier options. Be it immune boosting mocktails to high protein salads, dishes are being reinvented like never before. The concept of seasonal and organic produce too is fast catching up as restaurants are directly sourcing from local farms. The past few months has also seen the comeback of regional and local dishes. Cloud kitchens are serving traditional dishes; from forgotten recipes to popular full course dinners. While it is a sure comeback of forgotten recipes, the consumers are loving it as many might have tasted them during family get- togethers but not many have the time or the skill to cook such elaborate dishes. Re-invention has become the norm and surely the customers are appreciating it.
Much needed normals
One thing that the current situation has made it mandatory is upping the food safety norms. Restaurants are majorly focusing on kitchen hygiene, automation and better packaging so that food safety is never compromised. Many hotels are packaging their food in one-time use biodegradable packaging while some are sending their food with ‘WeAssure‘ seal packs in plant starched clamshell boxes. Organic foods sourced directly from organic farms to innovating health menus, the industry is evolving only for better, and maybe this is one thing that we should all look forward to.
The author for this article is Mr. Vikram Goel, Managing Director, RATIONAL International India Pvt. Ltd.