The coronavirus pandemic has placed the food industry in a predicament. Restaurants have reduced dine-in capacity. Tables and chairs are giving way to takeout counters. Restaurateurs have to cut the number of their employees. This reduction in products and services continue to affect their profits. Of course, this doesn’t mean that problems in the food industry have not been persisting since before the World Health Organization (WHO) announced coronavirus as a pandemic. The fast-paced, digitally focused, and hyper-competitive world we now live in has forced the food industry to yield to its demands of better service, healthy food choices, Instagrammable interiors (and exteriors, too), and social-media-savvy marketing strategies.
But it demands more now. Even catering service companies are trying to find their footing in an industry forever changed by the coronavirus pandemic. Without diversifying your products and services, you stand to lose against businesses that are willing to buckle it up and carve a new niche in the new norm.
Ramen restaurants didn’t use to allow takeout orders before. The quality of the ramen (the noodles and the soup base) tend to be affected when it’s not served piping hot from the kitchen. But with the restrictions imposed on dining because of the pandemic, these ramen shops have to be innovative in adjusting to the new norm.
Restaurants cannot be complacent about how they package their takeout food, though. Now, they need to be innovative about the way they sell their products. Can they put their food in Styrofoam and cardboard boxes? Will that be sustainable? Won’t their customers try to find other restaurants that give value to how their products are served? Innovativeness is the key to staying afloat during these times.
Restaurants are also offering frozen, marinated, and ready-to-cook products to their customers. Letting your customers experiment with your pre-cut, pre-marinated ribeye steak and ready-to-bake pizza is another way of diversifying your food services. And this is not only sustainable during the pandemic. This can actually be part of your options even after governments allow restaurants to start operating to their full capacity.
People work nine to 10 hours each day. At $13 per hour, they cannot dine out every day and pay for your services. But, hey, they deserve good food, too, so what can you offer them? Ready-to-cook packs that can go straight from the freezer to their stove or oven are going to become increasingly popular.
Yes, delivery is already part of your services. But how do you streamline it? How do you make deliveries more profitable? Restaurateurs claim that deliveries comprise only 3% of the total profit for full-service restaurants. High-end restaurants barely profit from deliveries. Studies show that they have only about 1.8% net profit margin from deliveries. But as the truth about the new norm unfolds, high-end restaurants must be innovative in how they can deliver both the food and the exceptional service that their diners have been accustomed to.
People are increasingly concerned about their health. Offering organic food might make them lean on dining and ordering from your business. Organic food has a bad rep for tasting bland, so you might want to hire an expert nutritionist and chef to work together and come up with a line of organic products. No, you don’t have to let go of those sinful chocolate cakes and over-the-top burgers. You need a whole line of organic and healthy food products that will make your menu more diversified.
The strangest of things have happened over the past years. But no industry has been as deeply affected by the digitalization of services and the recent pandemic than the food industry. As competition gets tough, restaurateurs and caterers are put in a position where they have to reinvent their business models.