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Four hypothetical scenarios facing the foodservice industry after lockdown

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A new report from IGD and industry analyst Peter Backman has outlined four scenarios to help foodservice companies plan for the post-lockdown future.

The boundaries between eating at home and out-of-home have been broken down enormously during the coronavirus pandemic, resulting in unprecedented changes to supply and demand of food and drink in the UK.

In 2019, the split of consumer spend on food and drink was one third (36%) in foodservice and two thirds (64%) in retail.

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In 2020, Covid-19 and the resulting lockdown measures and closure of all non-essential shops, pubs, restaurants, and cafes, will have a dramatic impact on the balance of consumer spend in retail and foodservice.

The Eating In Vs Dining Out report, produced by IGD in collaboration with foodservice consultant Peter Backman, explores four scenarios that address the possible path of the virus and performance of the economy – from a relatively manageable virus to multiple outbreaks, and an economic performance that quickly recovers to a hard-hit economy, slow to rebuild.

The four hypothetical scenarios are:

1. The Great Reset

 This most positive scenario sees food and drink consumption largely shift to home. Retail sales remain high but flatten as lockdown restrictions gradually lift and people start to eat out again.

Safety and hygiene in out-of-home settings have higher value for consumers and become a key factor as they choose where to eat and drink. Eating out returns to levels experienced in 2019 in two years’ time.

2. Decade of Drift

In this scenario, the virus is manageable, but the economy takes longer to recover and the financial impact on households and businesses is severe.

Companies accelerate cost-cutting and efficiency programmes to demonstrate value to consumers. Demand for eating out among consumers is high, but many are unable to afford it.

3. Technical Isolation

The path of the virus sees businesses and consumers turn to technology and digital services, which reshapes the retail offer; online is seen as the safest way to shop. Businesses divert investment from stores and shopping is a functional activity.

Eating out is functional and severely constrained. Stores and foodservice sites that cannot be repurposed to increase online capability will close.

4. Globalisation reversed

The most severe scenario, combining bad outcomes for both the virus and the economy. Globalisation regresses, putting pressure on supply chains and businesses to find operational efficiency.

For the commercial foodservice sector, deliveries and takeaway services are almost the only option due to increased costs and complexity.

Rhian Thomas, head of shopper insight at IGD, said: “Covid-19 has resulted in the boundaries between in-home and out-of-home consumption breaking down further and faster than any of us could have imagined. The future is unpredictable; we don’t know what path the virus will take or how lockdown measures will affect markets in the medium to longer term.

“In this highly uncertain environment, foodservice companies must balance customer focus with practical operational issues and working collaboratively with partners will help achieve this. Much thought must be given to the best time to re-open and foodservice companies must be prepared to re-write their business plans with a start-up mentality.”

Mr Backman said the hospitality industry has taken an unimaginable hit, but many operators have used it as an opportunity to “pivot their businesses and redefine both their offer and the way it’s delivered”.

He added: “The entrepreneurial spirit and dedication to save a much-loved industry has been refreshing for all to see. Consumer demand will drive and shape the eating in and dining out markets more than ever before, so suppliers, foodservice operators and retailers will need to react, adjust and innovate to allow for evolving scenarios. The food industry has always been fast-paced; it’s about to get faster.”

Tags : foodservice industryPeter Backmanresearch
Andrew Seymour

The author Andrew Seymour

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