The Irish consumer now demands convenience as a priority, looking to source food ‘anytime, anywhere’, states the report which was released ahead of Bord Bia’s annual foodservice seminar which took place in the RDS recently.
The report shows that Ireland’s foodservice market is set to grow by 6.1% this year to reach a value of €8.2billion.
Pubs account for 17% of foodservice spend (excluding alcohol) while 35% of consumer spend is found in Limited Service Restaurants with 12% attributed to Full Service Restaurants.
Ireland’s 8,250 pubs witnessed a 2.4% Category Annual Growth in consumer spend to €1.396 billion, with operator purchases put at €402 million.
The fastest-growing segments in the Commercial space are coffee shops and hotels, both of which have seen over 7% growth in the past 12 months. The largest growth in foodservices is in the Hotel sector, up 7.6% and the Coffee Shop/Café sector, up 7.5%.
The Insights report tracks trends in consumer behaviour when eating out of home and also highlights some of the challenges the industry faces in light of the significant growth in demand for foodservice in recent years.
Findings from the report show that consumer demand for convenience and sustainable practices are disrupting the foodservice industry and that with more operators using food as a tool to compete, new channels such as forecourt food experiences continue to emerge.
But city centres have now reached close to saturation point when it comes to quick serve restaurants and cafés, while a tightening labour market has led to shortages in finding and keeping qualified staff.
“As the economy has grown, so too has the foodservice industry,” commented Bord Bia Chief Executive Tara McCarthy, “Strong growth in income and employment, coupled with strong tourism figures, have been key contributors to the overall health of the sector. While we expect to see continued positive activity in the next three years, going forward overall growth figures are likely to be lower than previous years”.
The report finds that “on-the-go dining” will continue to grow as snacking and late-night occasions continue to grow in importance with consumers looking to source food at any time.
“Three meals per day is no longer ‘the norm’ as day-stages blur and traditional ways of dining are disappearing,” according to the report.
Consumers are looking for more experiences when eating out. Restaurants and foodservice are increasingly seen as ‘entertainment’ and consumers are willing to spend on something that’s unique and different, states the report, adding, “Occasions will increasingly be divided into those that are convenience-driven and those in which consumers demand ‘something unique’.”
Third party delivery is possibly the biggest disruptor to the foodservice industry as technology provides app-enabled ordering which is increasingly growing into segments that haven’t traditionally delivered such as full-service restaurants and even pubs. Delivery-only kitchens are starting to appear in other countries and will likely be an area of focus for delivery companies in Ireland.
According to Bord Bia, the growing on-demand foodservice culture is driving the popularity of cashless, click-and-collect and third-party delivery options.
“As more tech-enabled solutions enter the market, much of the ‘front of house’ experience between consumers and the operator could ultimately become automated,” it states.
“Operating with a conscience is the expectation, not the exception and this includes reducing food waste and reducing packaging,” points out the report, “While the focus has been on the coffee cup, the issue is likely to spread to plastics and broader packaging (both consumer-facing and back-of-house). Consumers demand ‘something’ be done but are often poorly informed on the broader infrastructure needed to recycle or compost foodservice waste.”