I will tell you honestly that what I’m preparing for is the most dire. I heard people in our industry say, “It’s going to be an 18- to 20- to 24-month recovery.” So here we are, in downtown Chicago, with really high rent and we’re losing money every day we’re open. We have a very minimal staff and all our sous chefs have gone back to cooking positions on the line. The real estate market over the next two years—a lot of the people that were working downtown, aren’t going to be down here anymore. That means that we will have virtually no lunch business at all. And that’s going to really hit the neighborhoods that are really adjacent to downtown. Then we just kind of try to figure out how to stay super lean and survive. Pretty much every restaurateur and chef are feeling the same thing. We have no idea whether we’re going to make it.
Chef, restaurateur, author and TV host
The brands that rely heavily on in-store dining are going to be in tough shape. Any reversion back to closing the dining rooms is going to be extremely difficult for places that rely on that business. It’s going to be very tough for casual dining places to fully recover. You’re going to see a lot of them get smaller. One of the interesting insights related to the dynamics of the restaurant business is that it has been in an almost constant state of expansion for years and years, even in the depths of the 2008 recession. You’re going to see some contraction as it’s already a very crowded space. The restaurants that will do well are the same restaurants that are probably doing well now, in that they have a strong digital business and a product that travels well. Digital business driven by those channels can help pick up the decline for in-store dining. Locations that are struggling and out of business will certainly reorganize.
Chief Marketing Officer, Chipotle
In times of anarchy or chaos, the more highly optimized your system is for international global movement, the more susceptible it’s going to be to risk. The advantage in that situation and this dystopian future really shifts for all forms of food production towards more localized, decentralized methods and technologies. We would see more local slaughterhouses or a lot more local factories producing plant-based meat, and someday, cultivated meat from friendly neighborhood meat breweries that are on the order of a microbrewery-type scale.
Food Service and Supply Chain Manager at the Good Food Institute
The market did collapse once. But the Federal Reserve has already said that they’ll buy everything and anything. So they’re going to prop it up and the bigger question is when will that end or if it will end? I don’t know the answer to that question. But when I look at the restaurant industry, I don’t think that they can prop up consumer spending or consumer sentiment around safety and health.
Howard W. Penney
Managing Director, Hedgeye Risk Management
A muted recovery could mean movement to the “next normal” on a broad scale as late as 2023. As outbreaks intensify, consumers will settle back into a much more cautious posture until they see signs of relief and better treatment options. Expect them to cut back on shopping trips, limit outdoor dining, avoid travel and large groups, and set sights on a vaccine in 2021. With children of many ages staying at home likely into the fall and 2021, tasty and truly nutritional food options that are convenient to prepare will be big winners for them and their parents, who are working from home, if they can. Fighting boredom will be key, so brands need to remember that downturns are a perfect time to invest in creative new products and provide greater variety.
Associate Partner, Ipsos Strategy3
This will be an opportunity for manufacturers to react to social justice movements. We’re seeing the changes that large organizations have been seeking to make, not only internally, but also how they’re communicating in the marketplace. I hope we see an increase in support for minorities looking to develop new brands/innovations through the incubator design that many of them have already been using. I absolutely see that impacting the brands that companies acquire, or brands that they want to invest in to really amplify minority voices and the roles they play in the food and beverage space.
Vice President, Innovation, Ipsos
Consumers will reward brands that meet them where they are financially by being loyal. Brands can take a price reduction or offer more value, like a two-for-one or a bigger pack size at the standard pack size price, or if there’s an opportunity for additional uses for a product that shows more perceived value. If people can’t pay their rent or mortgage, it’s very difficult for them to be thinking about having a steak dinner or spending more on a jar of premium spaghetti sauce. Brands that are tried and true, if they are weathering the storm with the American people, they will be the ones that’ll be invited back in, regardless of whether shoppers could spend right now or not.
President and Chief Client Officer, Ipsos
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