This Arena Autumn event rang the changes, with a new venue in the shape of the imposing Banking Hall in the heart of the City of London. The line-up included a talk on the market from Simon Stenning of MCA and the headline interview hosted by Mark Lewis of Hospitality Action with Frank Gleeson, CEO and Regional President of Northern Europe Aramark and Jon Knight, CEO of Jamie Oliver Restaurant Group. With the day billed as ‘When contract catering meets the high street’ for obvious reasons, Simon took to the stage to take us through an overview of the eating out market and then onto the dynamics affecting the branded restaurant and contract catering world. Some of the key take-outs included:
As a leading integrated food and drink agency we make it our business to keep up to date with the latest trends and dynamics in the eating out market. Part of this ongoing commitment is our membership of the MCA Forum who shared their latest report on the eating out market last week. As you can imagine this a hugely comprehensive report which covers off economic trends, operator challenges, consumer insights and much more (and well worth joining to receive). However, these are my top five take-outs from the half day briefing to help keep you in the loop when it comes to foodservice, hospitality and eating out as a whole.
Since the days of David vs. Goliath the underdog has won out over the big guys. As the leading food and drink agency, the underdog or as we call it ‘challenger brand mind-set’ is one we love. There is nothing better than shaking-up a market with a new entrant who can re-write the rules and take no prisoners. Don’t get me wrong, there is a place for the big household names and we are lucky enough to work with a number of food and drink big boys across foodservice, convenience, retail and consumer markets, but even when we’re working with the established names we bring a challenger brand mentality to bear.
For an event entitled Alcohol Trends and Innovations the day’s conference included a surprising amount of content around the drive for low and no alcohol. Doubtless driven by those pesky Millennials and Gen Z lot who don’t seem to value the good old fashioned binge drinking culture my generation and those before worked so hard to establish (only joking). Equally the omnipresent march of the health and wellness trend, will have had a fair amount to do with it, as consumers look to reduce calories, drink less and generally consume more wholesome food and drink. That’s not to say volume drinking is dead, Jägermeister themselves don’t condone or promote the ‘Jägerbomb’, but there is no denying this consumer-led ritual is alive and well in UK bars and clubs. However, despite the UK having a drinking population of 30 million (the large majority of whom, 96%, drink within the recommended limits, with only around 4% straying into the realms of ‘a problem’ – I’ll refrain from naming any beans) there is an overall trend for consumers to drink less, but better, with an increased focus on the quality, provenance and brand story. Drink still plays an important part in our social culture, both out of home in bars and restaurants (on trade) and when purchased in retail to drink at home (off trade).