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How has the Food and Beverage Industry Changed in 2021

By Lionel Alva

Against the backdrop of the current pandemic, hygiene and safety have emerged as the focal points of concern for the Food and Beverage Industry.  The year 2020 hit the reset button for myriad consumer mindsets, behaviours, and habits in nearly all areas of life. These changes have had a domino effect on many industries and the Food and Beverage Industry is no different.

People’s habits have changed greatly due to self-isolation and quarantines. There is a heightened awareness towards healthy living.

Quarantining and self-isolation changed many people’s habits. Some set out to improve their cooking skills while stuck at home, and others made changes towards healthier living. Many people turned to food for comfort during this stressful time. It is no secret that the Food and Beverage Industry has been among the worst hit. Based on insights from Forbes, let’s take a look at how the Food and Beverage Industry has changed in 2021.

Restaurants becoming rarer

The ensuing lockdowns meant that the restaurant business was badly affected. Many restaurants have been unable to keep their business running in the wake of subsequent lockdowns, and this has led to the shutdown of many. While some have been able to adapt to a home delivery model effectively, others have not been as fortunate.  However, celebrity chefs have been able to adapt by resorting to gigs, merchandise, YouTube shows, or by stints in their friend’s restaurants or opening their own kitchens. The focus of celebrity chefs today is on comfort food.

Fewer restaurants shall lead to less competition and make dining out or home deliveries for fine-dining food an expensive affair. However, in time, this will lead to an increase in wages and better gender and racial parity in the Food and Beverage industry.

In India, as per a recent survey by food aggregator Zomato, 10 percent of restaurants have indicated that they have shut down permanently and an additional 30 percent are expected to not open again, post the lockdown.  83 percent of restaurants surveyed in the country indicated that they are not open for business.

Few human interactions

Contactless orders and bills shall become the norm even when dining out is allowed. It is likely that post the pandemic, eating out won’t be as friendly and warm as it once was due to social distancing norms. Paying via QR codes or e-bills shall also become a trend. Groups will be segregated via safety barriers and there will be home deliveries and other forms of off-premise revenues that shall keep the Food and Beverage Industry running.

The biggest challenge for restaurants in the year ahead will be staying relevant and maintaining business continuity while ensuring customer experiences with social distancing norms.

As per IMARC Group, an estimated CAGR of 30.11% from 2021 to 2026 is by how much the home food delivery market in India shall grow.

At-home-dining

Cooking and eating at home has become the prevalent trend in 2021 and this is no surprise. Home-deliveries and home-cooked-food are the norm because of social distancing, travel curbs, and work from home requirements. A drastic increase in the search for sought after food recipes, readymade foods and meal-kits, and food-app deliveries has been observed in 2021.  These trends also apply to beverages. There is a growing preference for exotic cuisine and ingredients. People are cooking locally but are dining from a more globalized culinary.

The silver lining

Health-is-wealth has become the new mantra for the Food and Beverage Industry in 2021.  There is a conscious desire and need for healthy living by the young and old alike.  Should the world see some semblance of normalcy next year, the food and beverage industry too should be able to bounce back, but many of the 2021 Food and Beverage trends shall remain for the long-run.

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