In this section, we voice our thoughts on a given FoodConcept topic, to share our vision in a light hearted way.
Today, brands are adapted for use in kiosks, online, food trucks, as mixed concepts, in grocery stores, resorts, pop’up stores, corners, … always in line with their brand DNA. Let’s look back a little in time to see where we have come from and predict where we are going to.
1970 marked the start of the roaring 30s for cafeterias, specialist food chains, the emergence of fast food outlets and over the top standardization. The average product life cycle was 7 years.
With the arrival of the baby boomers came popular restaurant chains like Hippotamus, Buffalo and the Leduff concepts; snacking offers comprising baguette or triangular sandwiches and pizzas. Prior to 2000, fast food was essentially restaurant based via canteens or table service.
Then after 2000, we saw the emergence of Fast Casual, with precursors like Cojean and Exki (high quality food served quickly but eaten slowly). MacDonalds became the top restaurant in France in terms of volume. This showed that we could diversity with MacCafés.
Millennials rejected standard catering chains en masse, and in came healthy, local, seasonal and ethically sourced food. This Facebook generation only wanted food that was prepared in front of them. MacDonalds adopted a green logo in France, Germany and Switzerland to appeal to a larger audience. Food trucks started crossing the Atlantic and pizzas and sushi were everywhere.
Around 2015, new restaurants like BigMama emerged. Although the digital age had well and truly arrived, it took time to take off: information, reservations, payment, delivery, traceability, community. The consumption cycle got shorter and we started to talk about specific food sectors, locally-sourced produce, individual items, transparency. Snacking offers were available in many different forms: boxes, rolls, wraps, multi-breads, salads, pancakes, etc…
Food was bought at a counter and not just via table service. A single consumer could choose between 3 different snacking offers: fast food, supermarkets and sandwich chains! Restaurant services became more conceptual, experience focused, a place chosen for various reasons under a vegetal sky, greenery, or other ‘ecological’ trends.
Today, we talk about Out-Of-Home catering (a term used by retail outlets, bakeries and fast casual outlets), To-Go or Eat In and Restaurant At Home, a delivery service. The burger is now more popular than the ham sandwich for lunch and pizzas and burgers reign thanks to bike delivery services.
Snacking is increasingly being premiumized: fresher produce, better presentation with the emergence of brands.
The launch of co-working sites marked the start of alternative catering (neither fast, nor mass catering); boundaries are disappearing with canteens offering sandwiches to go and burgers. Everything is available to go, seamless, flexible or almost, and all-day. We eat all day, wherever we are and concept life cycles only last 2 to 3 years.
Today, hot and cold drinks dictate our snack consumption with the arrival of branded coffee shops and baristas, infusions, fresh fruit juices and flavored waters revered by the under 30s. Food Courts and Food Halls have already introduced very diverse and global food offers. Farmers and producers have become social media stars and people to follow. American cakes have gradually given way to healthy, traditional recipes (flans, tarts, etc..) and local produce and specialties in the hybrid ‘catering’ outlets, which our supermarkets, convenience stores and bakeries have become.
And then, we look at ourselves… transparency, good food, people-oriented, ecology, welfare, fair trade and sharing are all values that can be found in catering through the abbreviation CSR. Products now have an origin, and their followers can find out everything about them (growing methods, distance, variety, etc), attention is paid to the packaging which must be eco-friendly.
Catering is in a constant state of change. It keeps pace with our state of mind and (r)evolution. Tomorrow, (wanna bet?!) catering will be decidedly people-oriented in the broad sense of the word: multi-color, multi-facet, green, as close to nature and the Earth as possible, with digital and data contradictions. Will Mother Nature live up to its name and our individual and cultural bio-rhythm come out on top? Whatever the case, we will find out soon enough, so roll on tomorrow!