The pandemic has already had many far-reaching repercussions and will undoubtedly continue to shake up the landscape of the foodservice industry as we know it. Yet one positive we can take is the increased uptake of new technology which is estimated to have been accelerated by three to four years in a few short months.¹

Whilst the hospitality industry has been typically slow to adopt new technology, the last decade has seen certain pubs, bars and restaurants investing in the latest developments. Take Inamo, pioneers of Pan-Asian cuisine, who introduced interactive tables for ordering as far back as 2010. Or Wetherspoons whose Order & Pay app first launched in 2017 and allowed customers to avoid long queues at the bar.

But where applying the latest technology may have previously been an optional asset for venues and operators, Covid-19 has made it all but essential.

Now, where Wetherspoons started, many others have continued, and pubs and restaurants across the industry have introduced their own branded apps to help limit contact between front-of-house staff and customers. But the other benefits – reduced waiting times, instant feedback, virtual bookings, customised offers – mean it’s a sensible move from a business perspective too.

Linked closely to mobile apps is the increased use of QR codes. Used everywhere for the NHS Track and Trace programme, restaurants have also made use of the technology to allow customers to instantly bring up menus and avoid sharing printed versions.

The enforced closure of outlets during the pandemic also caused many operators to pivot and adapt their menu to suit delivery. While consumers were limited to takeaways, restaurants realised the potential of reaching new customers via takeaway apps. Deliveroo alone reported over 20,000 new restaurants partners in 2020 as sites looked for new revenue streams.

And whilst social media is by no means a new feat in foodservice, the exponential rise of TikTok has once again revolutionised online platforms. With many chefs on furlough for extended periods and with time on their hands (for once) they took to TikTok to share recipes, their expertise and set off viral food trends.

Technology and its impact in the food and drink industry will be a recurring theme during the UK Food & Drink Shows. The event unites six co-located shows under one roof with technology as a key pillar across the board. When the shows go live, experts panel will discuss everything from personalised health tech and wellness technology to the future of automation in the food industry, giving crucial insight on how to best harness every type of technology in 2021 and beyond.