First Press Vol. 25 No. 05

Four Ways the Pandemic Changed the Restaurant Industry that Won’t Change Back

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A 4-Part Weekly Series by Buyers Edge Platform: Part 4

Increased Focus on Traceability and Safety

COVID-19 caused major disruptions in the restaurant supply chain. That not only caused issues with the availability of food, it also raised potential issues with the safety of food, and the importance of accurate tracing. An expert in food safety recalls at business insurance firm Allianz Global recently told Food Safety Magazine that:

“With new operations, closed factories, remote workforces, weakened quality checks, decreases in regulatory visits, and erratic supply chains, risk exposures could also swell moving forward. All these factors can create errors, and a mistake in production can leave a product contaminated, dangerous and/or defective.”

–Stewart Eaton, Allianz Global Corporate & Specialty

Operators know that when it comes to food safety recalls, time is of the essence. They’ll look more and more to technology solutions that not only track the exact provenance of the food they’re putting on their tables, but that also will provide real time notifications if there’s an issue.

Knowing where the food comes from is important to consumers as well, not so much as a safety issue, but as a way to encourage sourcing from local suppliers. In our survey of 500 consumers, many say they’re trying to support their local independent restaurants, and that locally sourced food is a priority.

  • 41% of consumers say they have ordered more food from independent restaurants since the pandemic began.
  • 35% of customers say finding a restaurant that serves locally sourced food is very important.

Restaurants across the country have had to adapt to tectonic shifts in how their entire industry operates. Change that might have taken decades to occur was forced on them in a matter of weeks. And some of those changes don’t show any signs of going back. But operators that recognize the change, embrace the change, and adapt to the change stand poised to come out of the pandemic mess even better than when it started.

We’ll end our report with one last positive note. All of the hard work done by operators and their staff has not gone unnoticed. In our survey of 500 customers, 44% say they have been tipping more when they order from restaurants during the pandemic. That’s even more impressive considering so much of the ordering has been done for carryout and delivery, situations where tipping has traditionally been less than when customers dine in-person. People recognize and appreciate the hard work and sacrifice that everyone in the food service industry has endured.

*About the survey: Buyers Edge Platform surveyed 500 randomly selected Americans March 19, 2021. The survey was conducted by Survey Monkey.

If you missed the other segments of this series, you can see them here:
Part 1
Part 2
Part 3

Photo credit: Sharon Pittaway/Unsplash

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