Food and Beverage Leaders Exploring Sustainability, Healthier Options, and Technology Solutions including AI and Robotics.
While many countries continue to struggle with the pandemic, in some markets, such as the U.S., restaurants are setting their sites on how to recover. According to new research by Mazars, 80% of respondents to a recent survey expect increased sales, employment, profit, and product line growth this year.
The survey also additionally found significant industry shifts toward health, wellness, and sustainability, with a growing focus on adopting new technology solutions that enhance customer experience.
Nearly one-in-five (19%) have implemented sustainability reporting, while 15% plan to implement it, and 28% have sustainability reporting under review.
“The food and beverage industry has had to overcome many challenges over the past 18 months, but it’s clear from the data that it is on a fast trajectory toward recovery,” said Kristen Walters, Mazars Food & Beverage Practice Co-Leader.
“Business leaders are looking to innovate and keep pace with the changing expectations of consumers for more sustainable, healthier options, and are adopting data and technology solutions to develop in a more informed way.”
The survey found that there is a Movement Toward Sustainability and Healthier Options, with 20% of respondents reporting that they have implemented sustainability reporting and nearly half plan to follow suit this year.
The vast majority (91%) of respondents also said that health and wellness is somewhat or very important when introducing new products, with 44% anticipating that plant-based options will have a positive impact on sales, and 39% said that “better-for-you foods” would perform similarly.
Technology, Data, Robotics, and AI
While respondents noted that technology solutions that enhance customer experience were the most popular response to COVID-19 (39%), data and technology were also important to many food and beverage companies, with the majority (62%) of respondents already having implemented data analytics or planning to do so.
Mazar’s added that “One in five participants have already implemented, or are planning to implement, robotics and artificial intelligence, with 17% considering adopting this technology.”
Continued Concerns and the COVID-19 Effect
When considering internal factors that could impact business, restaurant and beverage companies said they were very concerned about increasing sales (41%), increasing product customer profitability (34%), and the COVID-19 effect (31%).
Survey respondents additionally noted being “very concerned about external factors, including rising commodity and other costs (25% and delivery costs, including the last mile (28%),” said Mazars.
The full report can be downloaded here.