There are some good things that have come from this, and I think that the family dinner may be one of them. We have realized through all of this, that we are social animals and that sometimes we don’t encourage that part of ourselves enough. This has taught us—by offering the table to us again, or forcing us around the table—that’s something we should value. We’re going to find that some people will have awakened during this time to the fact that spending a bunch of hours in the kitchen is very therapeutic and really fun. But that obviously doesn’t bode well for my profession. Yet one reason that I feel so strongly about [the restaurant industry] is that we offer one of the last vestiges of the table. People would come to a nice restaurant, order their food and sit and talk. Rarely did they do that at home. I can understand why people missed their restaurants, especially neighborhood restaurants.
Chef, restaurateur, author and TV host
Coming out of this, once a person has started using digital and once you’ve got the convenience of getting things delivered, it’s hard to go back. We say that our digital business probably got transported three years into the future. We were already in the mode that the Chipotlanes [drive through pickup-only lanes] were working well before COVID-19. You will see a lot more of our new restaurant development and activity be centered around the convenience Chipotlanes provide. It really works for us. We are also a seeing willingness from more landlords to accommodate a Chipotlane than pre-COVID-19.
Chief Marketing Officer, Chipotle
What the quick-service chains are realizing to a certain degree is how inefficient they were in their dining rooms and how expensive it was to run and that they really don’t need them, frankly. What they’re learning, because they’ve been forced to have no dining rooms, is to go back to their roots and just focus on their core menu. So, it’s going to force them to be even more efficient because these dining rooms could be closed for months now.
Pickup will be a much bigger part of the industry than it was, because it has forced companies and concepts who weren’t online to go online. Then in the supermarket industry, they were slow for the adoption. The consumer wasn’t really asking for it in a lot of cases. Now it’s more than a convenience item, it’s a safety issue.
Howard W. Penney
Managing Director, Hedgeye Risk Management
We did some tracking in retail and in most places, there was enough demand for plant-based meat that it kept pace with, and even outpaced the growth in animal-based meat. But it’s a much smaller category. Translating that into long-term, loyal demand is going to take the industry really improving it. It means building more capacity, becoming more widely available, improving the products. We basically now have the world’s biggest-ever case study of fragilities and risks in our food supply chain, particularly in our animal protein supply chain. And that’s going to cause consumers as well as government regulators and the food industry to take a pretty serious look at diversifying where we’re getting our protein and starting to include more plant-based, and someday soon, cultured meat, egg and dairy products as part of their portfolio.
Food Service and Supply Chain Manager at the Good Food Institute, an industry organization representing producers of plant-based meat alternatives and lab-cultivated meats.
Wiping down tables and things like that, that’s the cost of entry for any restaurant. But people have the capacity to forget pretty quickly. Once we’ve hit a minimum threshold of comfort with the pandemic and the ability to navigate it, people will forget some of these very significant changes that we’ve had. If we look back to the 9/11 tragedy, the way that the TSA was handled was significantly different than it is today. There are things that will remain. People will just be more aware of their health and their ability to get somebody else sick. Their ability and their responsibility for their own health so that they don’t impact others, that is probably one of the longer-lasting impacts of the virus.
President and Chief Client Officer, Ipsos
Consumers have new behavior patterns driven by their “stay-at-home” food experiences, like home cooking and buying in new ways, including online and delivery. They will balance these with going back to cherished rituals, such as going out to favorite restaurants and seeking more variety. Food manufacturers and restaurants that reinforce these new routines will be most successful. As COVID-19 has highlighted issues around meat manufacturing safety, plant-based protein alternatives have grown rapidly and will accelerate with every major food company already participating in this space, continued QSR/restaurant interest, and lots of investment chasing opportunities across many categories, forms, channels, and price points. Food manufacturers will need to address fluctuating local/regional pandemic stages with appropriate brand messages, brand/product focus, and media buys.
Associate Partner, Ipsos Strategy3
Packaging from QSR restaurants has to offer safety, of course, for the end consumer. But function will be really important. It needs to maintain the food’s quality, freshness and temperature, maybe over longer periods of time. And it’s going to have to deliver the quality or the experience that we all expect when we’re used to eating it in the restaurant or we’re eating it sooner. In the short term, consumers perhaps made a trade-off, accepting additional waste because safety most likely is at the top of a hierarchy of needs right now. But everything I’ve seen so far in the data suggests that sustainability and the environment remain high on the list of people’s concerns. Manufacturers will have to remain diligent about the sustainability efforts, even with changes that are being forced as a result of the pandemic.
Vice President, Innovation, Ipsos