Future-proofing the foodservice industry - CESA Conference 2018

FEA Foodservice Equipment Association


Premium Supplier 7th December 2018

Future-proofing the foodservice industry - CESA Conference 2018

Disruption has already had a huge impact on the foodservice industry. Think Deliveroo and Uber Eats. But, Zanata asked Conference, are they transport companies or caterers? And what about the so-called dark kitchens being set up to supply them? Digital technologies are enabling new ways of doing business. An established company might not do anything wrong, but it could still go down, taken over by new technology – think Kodak.

The Conference theme this year was ‘Evolving in a Disruptive Environment’. The next wave of potentially disruptive technology will almost certainly include AI and robotics. Disruption is ubiquitous and accelerating – but how do you plan if everything is disrupted? As digitisation marches on, Goeldenbot asked if the human touch is becoming a scarce resource – and hence could it be the differentiator that wins business? Digitisation brings efficiency and cost savings, but not empathy or emotion. It’s all about getting the balance right. Snower estimated that 80% of Parts Town transactions would be online by 2025, “There’s a dramatic trend towards E-commerce and mobile.”
This was a Conference delivered in the midst of Brexit chaos – facilitator Simon Jack gave insightful background. “We don’t understand where the EU is coming from,” he explained. “We talk about trade and finance, but to them the European Union is more important than BMW’s share price. Trade deals don’t matter: we export an enormous amount to the USA, with no trade deal – they just like our stuff.”

Despite austerity and the confusion of Brexit, eating out is growing. However, Zanata underlined how the dynamic is changing. The consumer is making more demands – they want a complex menu choice. Operators are responding, in part by passing the pressure to the supply chain – so equipment manufacturers are developing technologies that will help deliver new menus.

One of the areas Brexit is having a big impact on is staffing. Sophiclides told conference that UK Hospitality is having regular meetings at Downing Street. “I can’t think of an industry more affected by the migration issue,” said Jack. Sophiclides said that developing home grown skills and improving productivity, including through kitchen innovation, are priorities. He also called for a ‘root and branch reform’ of high street rates.

Dickinson underlined the importance of training for staff retention. His mission to ‘make Fuller’s famous for food’ has seen business rise dramatically, and the company is targeting £100million in food sales. Innovation in the kitchen led them to develop classic food with a twist – hence tea & hop smoked haddock. “The point of difference is what excites customers.” The way to look after customers is to look after your staff, because then they’ll look after the customers for you. Fuller’s training and education programme has been a major success – their ‘scholars’ stay twice as long as non-scholars, giving a huge boost to staff retention.

Frost also underlined the importance of training to combat the skills shortage, before presenting the latest group of CFSP graduates to Conference.

The sugar tax, obesity and health are among the drivers that are making consumers switch from snacking to more meal occasions. However, speed is now vitally important, said Hayward. The top four industry performers are pubs and bars
(for food sales), coffee shops, QSRs and full service restaurants. Sales in forecourts and vending are down. Simms highlighted how technology is meeting consumer demand – such as the Wagamamago App, which claims to speed up dining time by 12 minutes. “I tried it the other day, it’s rather good!” Trends to watch out for include immersive experiences – such as adult ball-pit bars and pubs with ping pong tables.

Williams’ highlighted EFCEM’s (the European Federation of Catering Equipment Manufacturers) success in lobbying Brussels to ensure the voice of the foodservice industry is heard. It’s the largest trade association in Europe, representing CESA and eight other national trade bodies. CESA chairs two of its key working parties, procurement and BIM, and connectivity.

Warren said that, as part of the EURIS taskforce (which represents industrial product suppliers in the Single Market), CESA is actively engaged with civil servants to get the best possible Brexit deal for the foodservice industry. CESA has launched a Brexit toolkit to help businesses by highlighting steps they can take to be prepared, whatever the outcome (cesa.org. uk/Brexit-toolkit).

The UK’s first smart commercial kitchen feature will be a highlight of the 2019 Professional Kitchen Show at the NEC (22-23 January). Carter said it will be an ‘immersive feature’ for visitors, highlighting the benefits of the latest technologies including connectivity.

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