As the COVID-19 pandemic began to take hold in the US in March 2020, thousands of restaurants were quickly forced to close, including many that will unfortunately never reopen. Overall, restaurant sales in the US declined sharply in 2020, about 21% for the industry at large. While the innovations and adaptations in response to the pandemic were diverse, not all will ultimately have a lasting impact on the industry. Some innovations like meal kits and restaurants acting as grocery suppliers ultimately lack the user base to sustain long-term adoption in the industry. Others such as contactless payments and delivery-friendly menus are likely to persist long after the pandemic subsides.
Digital insights are integral to innovation
With digital orders more than doubling across nearly every category of foodservice in 2020, restaurants were given access to vast quantities of new consumer data that help operators to better understand consumer behavior and preferences. Ultimately, the expanded access to consumer data will lead to more predictive innovation in the restaurant industry, whereby restaurants will be able to more easily personalize offers and develop new products that they know consumers will like. This will be of particular importance in the menu space, as menus begin to expand and restaurants feel more comfortable with experimentation following the pandemic.
An evolving ecosystem
The acceleration of digital strategies in foodservice, and particularly the success of third-party ordering and delivery services, is reshaping the foodservice infrastructure. Throughout the past year and more than ever before, the smartphone now serves as a primary vehicle for commerce for consumers. The rise of third-party delivery services has increased consumer access to many different types of food provider, including restaurants, grocers, convenience stores, and others. Restaurants are having to compete with new players because it is just as easy for consumers to order restaurant food delivery as it is for them to order meal ingredients and groceries from their phones. Differentiation is a new concern when location and accessibility are less prohibitive for consumers.
Source: Euromonitor International Date: May 19th, 2021
Effects on Costa Rica exports
The global foodservice market is set to grow by $743 billion during 2019-2024, registering a CAGR of over 3%. In 2019, foodservice reached $4.419 billion according to Technavio study. On the other hand, in 2020, agri-food sector exports in Costa Rica reached $4,4 billion, 4% more than in 2019, especially to the United States and Central America.
It is important to know that foodservice and hospitality industry has been heavily impacted by the containment measures imposed by governments. But many restaurants have been quick to adapt their business model to offer their customers more flexible, pandemic-friendly dining options and the suppliers in this sector must adapt to the same.
The previous facts show relevant trends that might be considered by the exporting companies of this sector, so that they can adjust their business models, marketing strategies, and products if necessary and thus continue positioning their companies among potential customers, namely, foods processors and final consumer.
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