While the trends defining the food and beverage industry for the coming year are fascinating, they come with challenges that F&B professionals need to keep in mind. These challenges have to do with both changes in customers’ perception of food consumption and with environmental regulations that the F&B industry needs to follow.
The vegan challenge
Although the new vegan trend allows for a creative diversification of restaurants and cafés, with new menu options opening up, it also has a challenging aspect to it. An initial question comes from sourcing the appropriate food ingredients.
This is even harder for existing food and beverage professionals who need to adjust their menus and dishes to a vegan clientele. These professionals have already their established suppliers and ordering routines. Now, they need to change these and include new suppliers and new inventories in their line of work.
Sourcing the food
Moreover, part of the vegan wave is that consumers are more concerned about where their food is coming from. They demand local food that hasn’t traveled thousands of kilometers because they are increasingly concerned about greenhouse emissions and climate change.
What does this mean for the F&B professional? “Locally sourced” can be a major selling point. Professionals may need to change their suppliers or the whole line of ordering. They may also be required to find new and local suppliers and establish new working connections with them. Lastly, they will need to label their food and menus with details about the ingredients and their provenance.
The more local, the better in people’s minds. However, this could require a whole change of menus in case some ingredients cannot be sourced locally. Sometimes, local producers cannot supply the appropriate quantities in which case F&B professionals need to have backup suppliers or need to expand their area of sourcing.
Flexibility and great expertise in the industry are two important qualities that professionals need to have.
The move toward organic food
Evermore people are demanding organic food. Consumers’ concerns stem from their need to put healthier ingredients on their plates but also from their environmental concerns about the dangers of pesticides and the protection of nature. For an F&B professional, this means they need to source organic food from registered suppliers.
Organic purchased ingredients need to be clearly labeled, in case there are any doubts about the provenance of the ingredients.
A diverse and delicate inventory
Gone are the days of tinned foods and pre-made ingredients. As the trend moves towards fresher ingredients prepared on the spot, this has strong implications for the inventory any F&B professional keeps.
Firstly, this is an inventory with a lot of perishable products: vegetables and fruit are highly perishable products with very short shelf lives. Inventory managers need to take this into account. They need to order only the appropriate quantities and monitor the quantity and quality of their products.
They also need to assess the cleanliness and prevent cross-contamination with other food products. Food safety is the number one priority in any F&B business. Ensuring the inventory and stocking conditions are spotless requires attention and proper management. The existence of more fresh produce in fridges and freezers makes this task that much more complex and demanding.
These and other inventory challenges require investment in inventory management software that will keep track of the whole inventory chain. This investment can be both time and money consuming but is imperative for the proper and up-to-date operation of any F&B business.
The European Union is setting more stringent regulatory requirements regarding many aspects that touch upon the operation of F&B businesses, such as waste disposal, documentation, quality of raw ingredients, sourcing, and labeling.
There is also a clear move towards less plastic, not just in packaging but also in single-use plastic such as straws and plastic plates. By 2021, single-use plastic will be banned across the EU while there are new mandatory decisions regarding plastic recycling targets that will phase-out the use of plastic.
All these requirements will have an immediate impact on the F&B industry which will need to adjust to a new, environment-friendly modus operandi. This could entail extra costs that professionals have not considered as of today.
Our Errand Pro B2B platform facilitates the life of F&B professionals.
We cannot address all the challenges that the industry faces. But we have applied ourselves to improving the ordering of all the necessary products for the proper operation of any F&B business.