Last week, Foodles in partnership with EP, hosted a thought provoking event which looked at the how food service in the workplace is changing during this most challenging of periods. It raised a number of strong discussion topics which were well debated.
The event was opened with a presentation from Simon Stenning, Industry futurist and strategy expert, who looked at some of the major trends which are emerging across the industry. Simon set a good tone for the evening with a positive outlook.
He noted that, over the past 9 months, there has been a continual growth in London Tube usage, reverting towards 2019 levels. He noted that analysis of TFL data would show that usage reached 85% by the end of November, which illustrated how normality is returning; how more workers, shoppers, tourists are back in business. He went on to forecast that this trajectory will continue through 2023, reaching 95% by June, despite the economic headwinds which must be encouraging news for many operators.
It was interesting that there later followed some debate as to whether we are really today back to normality and that there does tend to be an over exaggerated argument made about the hybrid model as the trend towards this was already taking place pre pandemic. As one can imagine, this led to split views.
Simon also raised a number of key trends which included:
- The challenge which many high street operators are and have bene facing
- The changing behaviours amongst consumers
- The growing importance of sustainability
- The contradiction in focus between health, nutrition and well-being along with the growth in branded food items
Simon’s presentation was followed by a panel debate which included, along with Simon:
- James Greetham, Managing Director, Sprung Collective
- Stephane Davaine, Brewin Dolphin/Royal Bank of Canada
- Julian Fris, Principal, Neller Davies
- Rodney Payne, Global Accounts Director, ARAMARK
- Renaud Barnion, UK General Manager, Foodles
This group together stressed and raised a range of important topics for consideration which included:
- James Greetham noted that the market has moved to a place where consumers will pay more for a stronger overall customer experience; noting that this will be key for all venues and workplaces to build a focus back onto their employees and audiences. This is an important topic as more are focusing on experiential marketing to bond with their clients and customers and it is proving to be effective.
- Julian Fris noted how important it will become for the public sector to also adapt and place more emphasis on its food service offer, noting that when the emphasis is placed on food service, it really does have a strong impact on organisations. He called for a stronger level of collaboration and thinking when it does come to reviewing food service solutions
- Rodney Payne talked about the need to think differently about food, menu development and to have sustainability at its heart. He noted just how so the thinking, influencing factors and decision making of many employees had changed. He spoke of how food service does need to respond to the changing market.
- This view was supported by Renaud Barnion who noted how Foodles was finding stronger traction and growth amongst clients who were seeking to adapt food service solutions and develop new offers.
- Stephane Davaine too supported the focus on sustainability which had been consistently growing each year and also noted that service was once again becoming of major importance. So many would look to technology to be a solution and yet little could match the power and importance of strong personal service experiences, especially in hospitality.
- All agreed that one of key demands today focused on the quality of product offered and a service which did meet the modern consumer. All spoke about the importance of value for money in a market which was becoming increasingly dominated by the cost of living crisis. So how would the market adapt and change in 2023?
Naturally there were many different perspectives but the key trends did appear to be:
- Many companies were seeking to adapt their solutions and strategies to ensure an offer which was value for money and met the expectations of employees.
- There would be a continued return to workplaces but that the working week has changed for ever.
- It was noted that 2023 would be difficult but that the industry had many times proven how robust it is and it will navigate a path through successfully. There were good grounds for optimism
- Food service strategies do impact very powerfully on organisations and that it is important to invest in.
- That many companies today were seeking a balance between technology, experience and service.
The evening raised a number of central discussion topics which will be carried on across many future discussions.
We would like to thank Foodles for their support for the event. Foodles entered the London market in 2022, following successful growth in Paris over the last seven years. It is a new food service offer which is attracting a strong following and commentary as being able to offer an healthy, sustainable offer in supporting employees across workplaces, in hotel and beyond.