While both industries are considered “essential services” providers, consumers simply weren’t ready (or able) to return to in-house dining at pre-pandemic levels—even with the widespread availability of vaccines by mid-2021.
Both industries felt the pinch of supply chain problems and labor shortages—trends that are expected to continue through 2022. These global supply chain disruptions have made it challenging for restaurants, grocers, convenience stores, and other foodservice establishments to maintain a steady inventory. Changing consumer behavior and new pandemic food trade policies are key factors that have contributed to the supply chain crisis.
What trends can restaurants and grocers expect for 2022? And what can business owners do to fortify their operations—no matter what the new year throws their way?
1. Labor shortages will continue.
Staff shortages have plagued the hospitality industry during the pandemic, and restaurants and grocers are scrambling to adapt. Nearly three quarters (74%) of restaurant operators say recruiting and retaining employees is their top challenge, according to the National Restaurant Association.
Amid grueling work and increasing abuse from customers, the pandemic years have been a period of soul-searching for workers in the hospitality industry—from servers to back-of-house workers to grocery stockers—with many ultimately deciding to call it quits.
In the coming year we can expect to see a surge of grocers and restaurateurs trying to woo candidates with higher hourly wages, healthcare benefits, 401(k) plans, family leave, and perks like emergency childcare.
But even with these changes, it’s going to be difficult for the industry to hire and train people quickly enough to bring operations back to pre-pandemic levels. Which means technology will likely be employed to help streamline and supplement operations, not only now but as the standard going forward.
2. Food safety will continue to take center stage.
Consumers may no longer be obsessively disinfecting their groceries like they did in the early days of the pandemic, but food safety is still of paramount importance.
Baby Boomers especially cite concerns about food safety and cleanliness, followed by Millennials, Gen X, the Silent Generation, and Gen Z.
It’s not enough for restaurants and grocers to say they take food safety seriously. Consumers need to see it. That means well-spaced interiors, thorough surface cleaning, visible food prep safety, and other safety measures.
More than half (55%) of consumers are even willing to pay more (10-15%) to know about the safety and cleanliness measures surrounding the preparation and transport of their food, according to Deloitte.
3. Consumers will continue to demand convenience.
One thing the pandemic has taught us is that, more than ever before, consumers want convenience.
A survey by Deloitte found that 61% of consumers order takeout or delivery at least once a week, compared to just 18% two years ago. And they want good food fast. Nearly three out of four survey respondents said they don’t want to wait more than 30 minutes for their food.
In the grocer space, fresh foods—especially prepared foods—have thrived during the pandemic. Four out of five grocers (81%) say that sales in “perimeter categories” have increased, according to Supermarket News, with grab-and-go, prepared meals, and made-to-order representing some of their “biggest sales wins.”
Convenience is now a permanent fixture of restaurant and grocery landscapes. The good news is that there are many ways for operators to deliver quality food quickly—from curbside pickup to delivery to fully automated stores to pickup shelves.
With the growing demand for convenience, digital systems will definitely play an increasingly central role in every aspect of foodservice.
2022: The Year to Make the Transition to Digital Food Safety
Most foodservice organizations devote a huge amount of manual labor to food safety. This is not only inefficient, it also makes operators more vulnerable to problems caused by human error.
This is where digital food safety technology provides the help and support needed.
Digitizing food safety protocols can help streamline your operations and give your employees more time to focus on what matters: activities that boost your bottom line.
When employees are able to focus more of their time and energy on customer service and back-of-house (BOH) efficiencies, your business thrives. An effective BOH staff is a key element of any successful establishment.
It’s no wonder the FDA has emphasized digital technologies as a major pillar of its “New Era of Smarter Food Safety” program.
As restaurateurs and grocers adapt to the changing demands of this new era, finding reliable safety solutions will be even more critical.
ComplianceMate’s robust digital monitoring and checklist system helps food retailers monitor temperature, safety, and quality issues before any problems strike. And it alerts managers in real time.
ComplianceMate is the first and leader in the use of powerful LoRaWAN wireless temperature sensors to transmit data on temperature and humidity levels. The fully customizable wireless temperature monitoring system provides 24/7 monitoring and real-time data at your fingertips.
See how the ComplianceMate system can help you streamline your BOH operations, increase your team’s efficiency, and meet HACCP compliance requirements in the ever-changing foodservice landscape.