What’s to come for Hospo in 2022

Our Innovation Manager, Darren O’Brien, takes a look at the year ahead

I’m fortunate in my role as Innovation Manager at Tip Top Foodservice to spend a lot of my time talking to the brilliant people in the hospitality industry. I have conversations with café owners and chefs, run panels for foodservice business owners and chat constantly with our suppliers and distributors. Tip Top Foodservice is constantly investing in research opportunities which helps gives us an overview of what’s going on in the market.

With this insight, there is one thing for certain, the past 18 months have been ‘unprecedented’. But we’re all sick of talking about the pandemic, right? Today, I’m looking ahead. After talking to hundreds of people in the industry, here are my predictions… 

Any time is a good time

Mealtimes don’t mean much anymore. In my opinion, all-day breakfast is one of the best things to hit the foodservice market in years, but now we’re talking about all-day everything. Traditional mealtimes are blurring, and venues are having huge success with grazing and snacking menus. 2022 will see more venues jump on board this trend and ‘mash up’ their menu to suit all times of day, from breakfast burgers to crumpets creations for dinner. 

On this same theme, we’ll see less ‘traditional’ flavours sneaking in, Asian flavours at breakfast for example or croissants used for burgers at dinner. 

Dietary requirements but not as you know them

There’s an enormous number of people interested in eating plant based or gluten free meals. However, this does not mean they’re necessarily interested in a 100% plant based or gluten free diet all the time. Gone are the days where a waiter can be judgemental for a non-coeliac ordering a gluten free sandwich. We’re seeing people experiment and be flexible with their dietary requirements (especially the younger generations) who may be eating less meat or gluten for their health (not necessarily ethics). 

Perhaps an unpopular opinion, but I believe the faux meats are delivering the experience desired for some consumers and will be challenged by plant based whole foods instead. These customers will become much more interested in a large mushroom or grilled piece of haloumi in a burger than a meat-substitute that has been made in a factory. 

Labour and costs will influence menus

After a very difficult year, the hospitality industry will continue to be faced with challenges. Due to the costs of distribution and shipping increasing exponentially in the past year and adverse weather conditions affecting farmers, the price of ingredients for cafes and restaurants is on the rise. 

Pair this with ongoing hospitality worker shortage and kitchens across Australia are faced with a difficult challenge. How do I create food my customers love, for a price they can afford, with even less skilled help to make it? People don’t want to pay more and they don’t want to wait longer because you don’t have enough chefs to bring your menu items to life. 

In 2022, this will lead to venues having refined, cost efficient menus that use high quality (but limited) ingredients and labour. Venues that will succeed will have a limited menu they know they can make perfectly with the minimum number of people in the kitchen. Focus on speed and ease. The food may not be gourmet, but your customers will be happier that you’ve brought it out quickly.  

Provenance is front of mind

More than ever, people are supporting locally grown and made goods. This has always been the case when it comes to Australia Made, but people have become even more parochial and are loyal to their states. We are proud to buy our wheat locally, mill it in that state, and pass it on to our bakeries again in the same state. We take supporting our locals very seriously, and your customers do too. 

Success will come by embracing the new world

Savvy businesses would be smart to create menus that do well across multiple platforms. That is, it’s a great eat-in option, it delivers well, it can be created as a ‘finish at home’ box and it freezes when snap lockdowns are announced. 

It brings to mind one of the Uber cofounders who has created a secretive dark kitchen empire in Europe that allows multiple businesses to cook food for third party delivery, all in one place. He saw an opportunity and adapted to the new world. Now, I’m not saying Aussie venues should do that, but keeping in mind what has changed and identifying new needs in your area will serve you well. Are you a suburban café that is usually busiest on weekends for example? Consider tapping into the work from home crowd, as it is predicted that it’ll be another 2-3 years before CBDs are back at full capacity.  Be ready to adapt to lockdowns, have a plan, and buy frozen products so you don’t have to throw it out!

Whatever 2022 looks like, what is brilliant about the hospitality industry is we sail on no matter what happens. What do you think is in store for us in 2022? I’d love to hear about it, get in contact through our facebook page.

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