Should we simply hang up the ‘business as usual’ signs and carry on?
That would mean we were not taking into account the seismic shift that has occurred during the lockdown. For example, some recent estimations by Kantar Worldpanel suggested that 503 million more meals would be eaten within the home during this outbreak. The really interesting thing for me is that proper lunches may well be making a comeback. Our southern European cousins will have wondered why this has taken some of us so long to embrace. It's certainly very civilised and beats dropping mayonnaise/crumbs all over the keyboard.
As an Executive recruiter in the Food and Drink industry I find food trends exciting
For obvious reasons I am obsessed by stats and behaviours. Therefore, I started to wonder just what impact home working will have on the way we buy and consume food. With bars, cafes and restaurants shut for the near future at least will we make alternative arrangements or simply wait for the coffee shops to reopen?
The rush and tear of contemporary life means proper breakfasts are back
These are estimated to be up by around 9%. People have time to sit and talk. We are also responding more seasonally too. A change in the weather affects mood and also what we want to eat. For many that experience artificial daylight and temperatures in offices this seasonal adjustment has been quite a revelation.
In addition, people have stockpiled
This means there is a lot of food kept in many houses and there’s lots of choice, plenty of recipes and nothing much else to do than cook. There may not be any restaurants open, but many people have tried hard to recreate their favourite dishes at home. Some chains have even given away secrets to allow people to do just that. Perhaps they are hoping we will be so relieved to taste the real thing we’ll flock to the re-openings. In the meantime, we can buy the sauces and kits to recreate the food we are missing.
Gone are the top up shops.
With queues stretching endlessly outside supermarkets much better to buy for a couple of weeks at a time. Even with slight easing of some lockdown restrictions habits are becoming embedded.
The Dairy Industry have been hard hit by refreshment outlet closures
However, a switch in production methods may compensate. With the demand for fromage frais and ice cream in high demand and a rise in milk deliveries, it just needs agility and quick thinking. According to Kantar we are probably looking at 190 million occasion increase through additional teas and of course the snacks that go with them. This is bound to impact on the loss in food service demand.
We should not forget this pandemic has provided some massive headaches
In addition, there have been some considerable challenges. Certainly, demand has caught out commercial flour producers, large and small. They have struggled switching to domestic flour sizes as the rise in home baking has been exponential. Dried yeast is still in short supply, weeks after lockdown started and icing sugar has flown off the shelves as households are making more exciting cakes.
The need to be leaner, meaner and more flexible is absolutely essential
After all, working from home saves money and time in 101 ways not least petrol, train tickets and eating out throughout the day. I predict the return of the flask and some exciting packed lunches. Not only this, the lockdown has taught us to re-evaluate our work life balance. Do we really need to spend money to compensate for being out at work and not having enough time for anything? I have managed conference calls with colleagues from Chicago and Amsterdam in the same room as it were. So why do we need to return to legacy practices?
With endless change what might the post lockdown food landscape look like?
It has been hard to consider the future when we’ve all been trying hard to simply get through the present. But economic uncertainty will affect what we do and how we do it. Lessons can be learned from the recession but maybe this time we can do much better.