Value of Irish foodservice sector increased in 2021, but remains 41% lower than pre-pandemic – Bord Bia
Sustainability remains important: Packaging a key influence on food choice
“Support for local” bolstered by pandemic: Half of all adults more likely to choose a foodservice option that supports local business and the community
8th December 2021: According to Bord Bia’s 2021 Irish Foodservice Market Insights Report, the value of the Irish foodservice (or out of home) industry for 2021 is estimated to reach €5.15 billion. This represents moderate year-on-year growth of 14.6%, but remains 41% off pre-pandemic turnover levels. The report also explored consumer attitudes to eating out, with 3 in 4 Irish adults (73%) reporting having missed dining in restaurants, pubs and cafes as a result of Covid-19. This makes eating out the most missed social activity, compared to shopping for leisure (59%), concerts, sports and live events (57%) and spending time with colleagues (45%).
The report also revealed that there remains a degree of caution around eating out, especially among older demographics, and that full recovery in the sector is not expected until 2023 at the earliest. Despite a widespread view that there are adequate Covid-19 safety measures in place, for 6 in 10 diners (61%), there is some degree of nervousness about eating out.
Maureen Gahan, Foodservice Specialist, Bord Bia said, “It is encouraging to see growth in 2021, but we still have a way to go to returning to pre-pandemic levels given that the Irish foodservice market was severely impacted last year. Certain segments of the market such as limited-service restaurants and coffee shops have been less impacted and will recover quicker in 2022. However, others such as restaurants, hotels, pubs and workplace catering will continue to be impacted not only by Covid-19 public health restrictions, but also by other broader sector challenges. These barriers to growth include labour shortages, supply chain disruption and rapidly rising inflation – all of which are complex issues being faced at a global level, which will require global solutions.”
Of those surveyed, more than 3 in 4 people (76%) admitted that they missed the experience of eating out and that the social aspect of dining out is what they most look forward to.
The majority of consumers (71%) said that they preferred dining out rather than eating a take-away at home, yet at the same time, growth in takeaways driven by Covid-19 restrictions is likely to continue, particularly amongst those with younger families. With a proliferation of new takeaway and delivery options and further exposure to ordering and delivery apps, take-aways are here to stay – 41% of adults say they are likely to consume more take-aways in the future, compared to pre Covid-19.
Sustainability remains important and we see that almost half (45%) say that in a post-pandemic world they will be more likely to choose options that are kinder to the environment, with packaging a key influence on this. Similarly, “support for local” has been bolstered by the pandemic and half of all adults, especially those in the older demographic (57% over the age of 50), are more likely to choose a foodservice option that supports local business and the community.
Critical Factors Facing Foodservice
Over the last 18 months, the industry has adapted to changing demands. The report calls out eight Critical Factors facing the industry which are set to continue into the future:
- ‘Big Three’ barriers to growth - supply chain challenges, labour and higher prices/inflation all have the potential to hamper stronger growth in 2022.
- Ongoing restrictions – underlying consumer demand remains strong, but full return to normality won’t occur until the public health situation allows.
- Return of international travel— while domestic demand helped sustain many segments of the tourism industry, it will struggle to reach full recovery until public health advice allows the return to full international travel.
- Off-premise initiatives – even as the industry is allowed to re-open for dine-in, click and collect, take-away drive-throughs are critical to operator success.
- Experience is increasingly important—consumers crave the experience of eating out and will increasingly be looking for something new, unique or different to drive their decisions in the future.
- Workforce remains unsettled—consumers have yet to return to any type of ‘routine’ and a return to the office and resumption of pre-pandemic activities remain unlikely to occur in the short term.
- Changing consumer priorities – outside of Covid-19 protections, other priorities have an important bearing on choice of foodservice outlet. Healthier food choices, sustainability and “support for local” will all player a greater role.
- Future consumer demands – The future of foodservice will not simply be a return to ‘business as usual’. Operators will need to embrace a changing consumer that has more choice in the range of options they can access and the means by which to access them
Tara McCarthy, CEO, Bord Bia said “The Irish foodservice sector has shown itself to be incredibly resilient in the face of immense pressure and has successfully adapted to meet many of the challenges it has faced in the last 18 months. There is no doubt that suppliers can play an important role in helping operators to navigate ongoing challenges facing the sector and we would encourage them to work collaboratively in helping to identify future solutions. This could include creating labour saving products, providing transparency around environmental, sustainability and provenance messages, enhancing communications around supply chain issues; and developing new products that meet the needs of hybrid workers or delivery customers. It is reassuring to see that for consumers, sustainability and supporting local remain important considerations in choosing foodservice options, trends that are also being reflected in some of our recent global consumer insight studies.”
The findings of the report will be shared with more than 500 delegates at Bord Bia’s virtual Foodservice Seminar broadcasting live from the RDS, Dublin from 10am – 1pm today. The annual event which discusses emerging trends in the sector will be chaired by Broadcaster & Entrepreneur, Aine Kerr and feature contributions from Declan Foley, Krispy Kreme; Sandra Kirwan, Glanbia Ireland; Deirdre O’Neill, Compass Group Ireland; John O’Toole, Airfield Estate; Lucy Dee, Taco Bell; Jeananne O’Brien, EATTO and Glenn Edwards, LEON.
The full report is available to download from www.bordbia.ie/foodservice21/