Mintel reports that the free-from food and drink sector has more than doubled in value over the past five years to be worth an estimated £934m in 2019, driven as much by welfare, environmental and well-being factors as by food allergies and intolerances. We will be looking at the new products, innovations and superstar options currently energising the sector, along with tips on how operators can cater for so many differing dietary needs - including religious requirements - without overstretching menus and budgets. With predictions of a slow-down in the expansion of this sector, the article will also examine further growth opportunities such as dairy- and meat-free (buoyed by the current focus on the environment and sustainability) and free-from options for special occasions, indulgence, children and digestive health.
Gin remains the UK’s tipple of choice for cocktails and long drinks, but rum continues to see sales growth, with white rum cocktails such as the mojito an essential on cocktail lists. With the flavoured gin and vodka sector also continuing to grow, the white spirits category is broader than ever. How can operators keep their white spirits range manageable and profitable, while offering consumers the choice they expect? What are the key cocktail serves and flavour trends for spring and summer 2021?
What can we learn from how specialist coffee bars handled the recent coronavirus crisis and how can this be applied to develop coffee business in the wider catering trade? On the one hand, the concept of customer footfall became virtually redundant; on the other, coffee consumption continued to the degree that a surprising number of new roasteries opened up during the past year. Assuming that we will continue to have a catering trade in coffee, we look at the opportunities for the coming year.
Warewashing can account for as much as 15%-20% of total operating costs for catering and hospitality operators, so it is worth taking the time to select the right product for your specific needs.
The first step is to opt for the appropriate size and format – with models ranging from discrete under-counter glass or utensil washers to larger-volume pass-through and rack conveyor systems – but there are many other considerations to take into account such as noise, cycle time, temperature levels and ease of use and maintenance.
Topics will include:
- Tips on how to keep the machines in good working order
- The importance of water pressure, quality and treatment
- How to save money on water, energy and chemical usage without compromising hygiene
- The technologies and practices helping operators comply with Covid-19-inspired demands for higher levels of sanitation.
What should your new future-proofed payments technology look like? When considering implementing a new payments solution, what should restaurants, F&B operators look for? What are the most important considerations they should take into account?
The feature will consider:
- How easy are solutions to use?
- Ease of integration into existing systems - including PoS and kitchen solutions
- Need for frictionless transactions - contactless, wallets
- More personalised experience - linking to customer data, loyalty programmes
- Seamless multichannel capability - online, pay at table etc
Operator case studies (preferred) and supplier comment needed by 21 April
Pubs have been at the sharp end of the lockdown, with the British Beer and Pub Association estimating that up to 2,500 closed permanently during 2020, with more set to follow before restrictions ease. However, the great British pub has proven to be both resourceful and adaptable over the centuries. How are pub operators maximising new revenue streams such as retail, delivery and takeaway? How will staff and customers adapt to the Covid-secure procedures needed to ensure safe trading? What are the trends in food, drink and entertainment that will keep customers engaged and interested in the ‘new normal’?
Getting your breakfast offer right takes some planning. Consumers are discerning, and competition in the sector is intense, with breakfast available anywhere from petrol forecourts to pubs. How can caterers capitalise on the sales opportunity? What are the must-have menu options and what are the latest food trends to weigh up?
The rise of interest in vegan, vegetarian and - especially - flexitarian diets has seen the demand for plant-based foods and drinks skyrocket in recent years. This looks set to continue as the coronavirus scare sharpens the focus on human, animal and planetary health. We will be looking at the current and future product innovations, ingredients and hero dishes that either celebrate the natural bounty of the plant world or seek to replicate the appearance, tastes and textures of meat, dairy and fish.
Topics include (but are not restricted to):
- How important will it be to substantiate health and sustainability claims in the face of predicted increased scrutiny?
- What are the rising stars in terms of high-protein plant ingredients (such as chickpeas, lentils, peas or millet)?
- How much appetite is there for wellness-boosting offerings that help the immune system, gut or inflammation, such as probiotics and plant-based fermented cheeses, chicken, fish and milk?
- Will the trend for home-delivery of plant-based recipe boxes and meal kits continue as lockdown measures ease?
- Any other predicted trends.
With post-lockdown consumers expected to be eager for premium, can’t-get-at-home experiences, how can operators ensure that their soft drinks range is up to scratch? From mixers to mocktails, and with health, indulgence, and refreshment all among the factors influencing choice, what are the essentials of a profitable and appealing soft drinks, water and mixer list, and what are the latest new products and trends driving the market?
The selection and maintenance of coffee machines and water heaters is vital because all hot beverage machines are not the same. Espresso machines range from the flashy to the ‘workhorse’, and the secret is in knowing which really suits an individual business. Other product sectors have seen remarkable advances – typically, what used to be dismissed as ‘water boilers’ have been the basis for some astonishingly creative and useful developments. We look at the recent good ideas and ask how they can be of practical use to the beverage operator.
Sales of no- and low-alcohol drinks brands were up strongly in the on-trade prior to lockdown, so how is the category expected to perform as hospitality reopens? While beer has been a big driver of the no/low market, there are also more cider, spirit, cocktail and wine brands in the market. What are the key consumer occasions for no- and low-alcohol drinks brands and how should operators plan their range in the face of so much choice? This feature will include the latest no- and low-alcohol product launches and trends.
The phenomenon of a £5 loaf was a surprise when it arrived, but now absolute quality in the world of bread is expected and will be paid for. What does this now mean for the standard of bakery across the board? If ‘interesting’ items of high quality are now expected, in everything from cakes to bagels, then what products will excite the interest of the customer, and make profitable sense for the caterer? And how do we best source them?
Whether it’s a multifunctional combi-oven, or a fast, space-efficient rapid cooker, this feature will look at all the catering equipment that fits into the categories of multifunctional and rapid-cook.
Why is this equipment essential in a commercial kitchen, and how has it been used during the pandemic – and how will it become part of the kitchen of the future?
Your choice of tableware will tell your customers a lot about what to expect from a meal with you. Whether it is starched linen and crystal or a communal pot of self-serve utensils, tableware showcases your brand.
What are the latest products and trends for tableware? How do you manage the competing demands of design, functionality, practicality and cost in making your choices?
The Wine & Spirits Trade Association declared rum the ‘drink of lockdown’, reporting significant growth in the flavoured and spiced rum categories as consumers created their own cocktails and mixed drinks at home. How can the on-trade capitalise on this enthusiasm for dark spirits? What are the essential dark spirits cocktails and serves across rum, whisky, and bourbon? How should operators approach an interesting and profitable dark spirits range, and what support and advice can suppliers offer?
There are arguments about whether breakfast always really is ‘the most important meal of the day’, but one vital part is the tea or coffee – the body’s wake-up mechanism. And yet, a lot of hotel breakfast coffee is still below par. But it is quite easy and cost-effective to change that and make the first drink of the day a memorable one. We look at both hot and cold drinks for a distinctive breakfast service.
What are the latest trends and technologies in prime cooking equipment, such as ranges, grills and salamanders, griddles and steamers? How are suppliers improving energy efficiency and ease of use and cleaning? What should operators look for when buying or upgrading these kitchen essentials?
The rather unhelpful paradox in tea is still the odd contrast between the good old British cuppa and the weird and wonderful. The great majority of tea brands are lining up to announce their latest creative blends (just take a look at some real curiosities in the last Great Taste awards) while the great majority of caterers stick to the tried and trusted black teas. We ask, what exactly is the market for creative flavoured blends – and sales talk aside, what is actually selling?
After the 2020 party season proved a washout, should hospitality operators be putting the Champagne on ice for 2021? The on-trade will need to plan drinks ranges for those consumers still in cautious mode, as well as those who are ready to push the boat out. With some restrictions still likely to be in place on larger gatherings, what are the celebratory drinks and cocktail serves that appeal to smaller groups and laidback celebrations? What support, products and advice are drinks suppliers offering to help make the 2021 Christmas and New Year celebrations a success?
Whether you are jazzing it up with jalapeño ketchup or sprinkling it with Szechuan pepper, condiments, herbs and spices are a cost-effective way for chefs to create different tastes, promote menu rotations and keep things fresh. But what are the latest trends in flavourings and formats? What are the biggest crowd-pleasers? And what are suppliers' top tips for spice success?