It’s that time of year where we like to make predictions that could leave us looking silly – but as most of you know, our Executive Creative Director isn’t afraid to occasionally look foolish! So let’s jump into his top predictions for Food and Beverage in 2022.
1.Rise of the machines
The robots may not be coming to wipe us out yet, but they are coming for our jobs. I expect to see a lot more automation taking place in restaurants this year due to the huge workforce shortages in Australia right now. When you have restaurants offering employees free rent for a year in order to recruit staff, the case for automating becomes stronger and stronger. Along with this, I expect we’ll see some innovative solutions like foodifox’s contactless food locker concept. Plus, many more restaurants will be encouraging customers to order on their mobiles in-venue, helping to ensure quicker service (which is important if density limits are introduced due to the pandemic) and less contact between staff and customers.
2. Plant power
Some of you might not be aware, but last year I opened a chicken restaurant chain (The Jerk). While I absolutely love chicken, even I have to acknowledge that these days if you want to cater to everyone, you also need meat-free options. It’s not just about vegetarians and vegans either – lately, there are an increasing number of flexitarians and reducetarians (those aiming to reduce the amount of meat they eat). So it’s no surprise we’re going to see more plant-based options this year. At The Jerk, we offer five different meat-free pattie options for our burgers. In particular, I expect mushroom-based options to continue to boom. If you don’t believe me, try our Jerk Mushroom Salad or Jerk Mushroom Chips.
3. Virtual kitchens, real profits
Virtual (or ghost) kitchens are kitchens set up to service food delivery orders only. With customers ordering delivery more than ever before, these ghost kitchens will continue to grow at a spooky rate. It just makes sense. They’re more economically viable due to the fact they don’t need to be located in prime real estate areas (they don’t need foot traffic) and they don’t have many of the associated costs of running a restaurant (such as wait staff). In fact, I’ve also created a virtual brand called Southern Bucket that we run out of the same kitchen as The Jerk.
4. Don’t get stuck into the alcohol
While the past couple of years have certainly given us reasons to drink, the trend is actually heading in the opposite direction. Part of this is being driven by product innovation – with more low alcohol options and zero alcohol drinks that taste just like the real thing. I think it may follow a similar trend to the reducetarian trend with meat. People will alternate between the healthier options and the real thing. I suspect when people do opt for the real thing, they’ll be prepared to spend a little more – after all, if you’re going to indulge, don’t do it half-hearted. For this reason, I also expect premium alcohol options to do well.
Have we got it right or made a fool of ourselves? Let us know what you think will be the big trends in 2022.
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