2021 Dining Trends

2021 Dining Trends

covid dining

What will dining look like once we start to ease out of lockdown? We’ve looked at the predicted trends for the industry in 2021, according to a report by data agency Wunderman Thompson Intelligence.

Distancing, but social

In the run up to Christmas, dining domes became a thing, providing a loophole for operators to serve guests ‘outside’. The report said: “cocooning, self-contained pods, venues that make the most of outside spaces and expansive, yet welcoming shared public areas are among the features that could characterise hospitality design in the covid-19 era”.

Heated pods and domes are an investment for operators, but even after social distancing measures ease, it could take some time for guests to feel comfortable in a pre-pandemic restaurant setting, and why would they opt for indoor dining with a perfectly good set up outside? With guests missing social interaction, spacious outdoor areas could be the answer.

Adventure dining

Replacing destination dining (where people will travel miles to eat somewhere unique) is Adventure dining. And by that we mean an adventurous dining experience that people don’t have to travel for. Operators have already had to get creative to uphold social distancing and if these creative ideas can make for an exclusive experience (much like with the dining domes), guests will want to see what all the fuss is about.

Last year, Michelin-starred Budapest restaurant, Costes took dining to new heights by offering 4 course meals from the Budapest Eye Ferris wheel, where up to 4 guests enjoyed views of the city from their self-contained cabin. Another example comes from Luxury Parisian hotel, Les Bains who drained and repurposed its 1885 underground swimming pool to create a unique private dining room away from other guests.

Climate friendly food

According to YouGov, one in five people are changing their diet to support climate change. Some operators now provide calorie counts against their dishes – could a climate emission count make its way onto menus? Last year, our clients Chipotle launched a sustainability impact tracker to help guests analyse the sustainability of their lunch. The Real Foodprint tracker measures carbon emissions and gallons of water saved per meal.

In November 2020, an alliance of health professionals called for climate tax to be imposed on food with a heavy environmental impact by 2025. With 15% of the population predicted to be vegan by 2025, there is no doubt that this is something many will get behind.

In flight, at home

Plane food has come some way but would guests really opt for plane food amongst all the choice that the ground offers? Apparently so. In October last year, Singapore Airlines hosted a pop-up restaurant on board two Airbus A380s parked at Changi Airport. Demand was so high that tickets (ranging from first class to economy) sold out in 30 minutes! Dining in an airplane on the ground could be considered a novelty experience but in Finland, guests are even heading to their local supermarket to pick up ‘Taste of Finnair’, business-class meals.

Ghost kitchens

Not a new trend but with the increasing popularity of ghost (or dark) kitchens, thanks to the rise of takeaway and delivery during the pandemic, they are set to become ever bigger. With less dining space required for the foreseeable, operators might be wise to invest in more kitchen space and work with third party delivery companies to try to bridge the gap in sales.

Breakfast boom

We thought empty egg shelves in the supermarkets during lockdown 1.0 were due to a baking boom but according to survey by Kantar, egg consumption at breakfast has seen a rise of 68% compared to the previous year. With many people now working from home, and children off school, families are taking time over a traditional cooked breakfast and have said goodbye to a quick bowl of cereal or pastry on commute. We expect to see operators getting more creative with their breakfast menus as a result.

New players in the delivery market

FoodPenny, a takeaway comparison app, launched last year. Rather than comparing restaurants via reviews and ratings such as you would see on the likes of Just Eat, customers select their favourite cuisine and food items first and then compare and order in one go. The app pulls a list of comparisons such as price, distance, food hygiene rating, customer popularity and approximate wait time.

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