Cedabond’s Foodservice Innovation Showcase and Awards event on 12 May saw Future Foodservice’s Simon Stenning give a keynote speech on the future of hospitality.
Stenning noted that currently the hospitality industry has experienced a £47bn decline since 2019, and will still be 7.5% down on 2019 by 2022. He predicted that 2023 will see the industry recovering to 2019 levels and believes trade will only rise at between 3-5% annually unless growth factors change.
According to Future Foodservice’s data, the fast food sector was the least worst affected by the pandemic, only dropping by 30% as delivery services helped it to survive. At the other end of the scale, branded restaurant chains in city centres felt the most impact, with a 21% decline in the number of outlets.
Nevertheless, Stenning outlined there are strong, positive drivers for the foodservice industry in 2021, including pent-up demand from customers and the economy looking less scarred than expected. Plus the current VAT cut means there is a 15% improvement on all sales.
He analysed that prevailing concerns involve a recruitment challenge, with the non-return of European workers, as well as fears of global inflation increases.
Predicting a different working model for city centre dining, he forecast that workers will gradually move back to offices from home, though this may be a 2-3 day split either way. But with many people increasing their savings, there could be further rises in foodservice spending later this year, including over the Christmas period.
Stenning believes that staycations will drive tourism spend too, after visits were cut by 50% in 2020 from 40m in 2019. However, he cautioned that as inbound tourism brings in a lot of money, it will take a while for those numbers to catch back up.
Overall the forecast is a £65bn increase in foodservice trade from 2020 to 2021, but this is still £30bn below 2019 figures. Faster food formats such as drive-throughs look to be growing in popularity, while Stenning underlined that employing new technologies can deliver benefits in service while not increasing costs for operators.