According to Bord Bia’s 2019 Irish Foodservice Market Insights Report, Irish consumers will spend €8.55 billion on out of home food & beverage in 2019, up 4.5% on last year. The report shows that everyday foodservice occasions continue to drive growth and are less likely to be affected by changes to consumer sentiment. 2019 has been described as ‘good’, although not as robust as in previous years. Industry observers note that there are some cautionary tones starting to appear headed into 2020, many of which are linked to Brexit uncertainty around sourcing and tourism numbers. The report states that the industry should expect some maturity and deceleration over the next three years through to 2022, with overall island of Ireland growth forecasted to be 4.2% per year.
This year the Bord Bia report also includes findings from qualitative consumer research to provide a first-hand look at the breadth of ways consumers use foodservice in their daily lives, and the factors that influence their dining decisions. This showed that busy lifestyles are driving consumer reliance on everyday foodservice occasions, along with a need for reliable, convenient meal solutions away from home. It also found that while Brexit was top of mind for all consumers, few were actively making preparations on how it would affect their daily lives.
Maureen Gahan, Foodservice Specialist, Bord Bia said, “The Irish foodservice industry has been growing at robust levels for several years, but warning signs are on the horizon and industry operators and food and drink suppliers alike should be examining options and alternative strategic plans in the event of a possible slowdown.
It is important for food and beverage suppliers to the industry to stay close to the needs of today’s consumers and think about how their product can be part of a final solution that meets those needs. Our 2019 report includes detailed feedback from a range of individuals that shared first hand insights into what is important to them when eating out and where they feel the industry could be doing better.”
5 key opportunities for the foodservice industry identified in the report include:
1. Healthy options for all ages - Respondents across all life stages indicated an increase awareness and desire to eat healthier foods. While there are concepts in the marketplace that satisfy this need, the availability of ‘good tasting and good for you’ options at an everyday affordable price remains a consumer pain point.
2. Customisation and choice in meal options - Consumers cite a desire for increased customisation in their foodservice options. The ability to prepare a meal the way they want it represents a level of control that consumers associate with at-home meals, and remains a whitespace for foodservice offerings. Consumers also expect greater breadth of choice, including a variety of high quality beverages and more plant-based options. While many operators acknowledge that strict veganism still only accounts for a small % of consumers, it is important to cater to consumers that are looking for wider choices when eating out.
3. Access to authentic global flavours - Consumers reported a desire to explore global flavours, including newer, more ethnically authentic cuisines as well as flavours that have been largely normalised to the Irish consumer palate.
4. Reliable and competitive delivery services – although home delivery services have grown rapidly, there is still room for improvement on consumer issues relating to address, pricing and wait times.
5. Perceived goodwill among operators - Consumers expressed a desire to visit operators that they feel good about. This good feeling can be the result of elevated hospitality, transparent practices, or a feeling of mutual respect. Consumers note that positive human interaction provides added value as part of dining out and foodservice operators should maximise this opportunity for building brand loyalty.
David Henkes, Technomic said “As the industry looks to maintain relevance, a focus on meeting consumer need states is essential. Today’s consumer is increasingly looking for convenience – whether that’s a growing demand for high quality Food-to-Go offerings, or the increasing popularity of home delivery. And there’s an ongoing consumer movement in support of sustainability as a driver when choosing to eat out – 62% of global consumers say socially responsible initiatives are important when choosing a restaurants.”
The findings of the report will be shared with more than 300 delegates at Bord Bia’s Foodservice Seminar taking place in the Killashee Hotel in Naas today. The annual event which discusses emerging trends in the sector will be chaired by business journalist, Richard Curran.
Delegates will be addressed by Professor David Hughes, also known as ‘Dr. Food’, who will highlight macro trends shaping how and when we consume our food and David Henkes, Senior Principal with Technomic market researchers will share the latest in global foodservice insights. Attendees will also hear from Lorraine Heskin, Founder of Gourmet Food Parlour on how she has built a successful restaurant and catering business and Ewan McDonald, Chief Operating Office with the Wright Hospitality Group on how Marqette in Dublin airport is setting standards in Travel F&B.
A panel discussion focusing on current foodservice trends will feature contributions from Eoin Cluskey, Bread Nation; Diana Geraghty, Bunzl; Michael Healy, Deliveroo and Pat O’Neill, O’Neill’s Bacon. The panel will discuss developments in packaging and sustainability, changing consumer demands, the role of 3rd party home delivery and tips on supplying the foodservice market