All over Europe, restaurants are finally fully reopening. After a year of stop and go, of openings and lockdowns, it is only fair to take some time to think about the future of the foodservice industry as a whole. While the pandemic has (mostly) only accelerated trends already starting in many ecosystems, its impact may be even more significant on the hospitality industry. We have talked with many entrepreneurs and foodservice corporations in the past weeks, and here are our top 3 scenarios for the future of the restaurant.
1- The digital restaurant
Making the restaurant more digital has been a recurring subject for the past decade. Step after step, new technologies, notably around payment, entered the area but at quite a low pace. Now the foodservice industry is ready for much faster digital disruption:
- Beyond Covid, the coming IPO of Toast (the biggest ePOS (payment systems) startup) with a rumoured $20B valuation could be the “Beyond Meat effet” (when the meat alternative startup made its IPO in 2019, it triggered bigger investments in the area, partnerships with large corporations and the creation of new startups in the area).
- We are observing a surge in the number of large early stage, with investors betting on a new generation of owners who will want digital tools to pilot their business. Sunday, a French pay-at-table app recently raised a record $24M seed.
Beyond payment, many fields of digitisation remain to be explored in the restaurant industry, notably around sustainability (with startups such as Klimato).
2- A new supply chain
The foodservice industry goes far beyond what happens in the restaurant itself. It also includes its supply chain. This part of the industry is still a pen-and-payer one. A (very) large number of startups are disrupting this space:
- As Choco (German and identified in our FoodTech Europe Top 50), most are creating marketplaces that enable restaurant owners to connect directly with food producers and wholesalers.
- A minority, as Cheetah (US), are recreating the whole value chain with their own sourcing and logistics.
Even if what is happening is impressive, it could go beyond. As we often mention here, something extraordinary is happening on the consumer side, with startups raising billions in a few months to shake up the grocery industry (with a whole range of solutions from dark stores to farm-to-home to Instacart-inspired solutions). What if some of these startups diverted some or all of their focus toward the foodservice industry? That could very well happen as we can doubt that there is a space big enough for all of them on the consumer side.
3- Food automation
Robotics has a great role to play in the foodservice industry has robots can replace some of the most demanding jobs, from cooking (with startups such as Miso Robotics) to delivery (with drones such as Manna). We could very well imagine a future where most of the process of preparing food in a restaurant would be automatised from ordering to delivery.
Recently, Yum brands (KFC, Pizza Hut) acquired Dragontail, a startup that optimises the kitchen and delivery with its algorithms. Both had previously launched a pilot of pizza deliveries with drones in Israel.
These are obviously summaries of more detailed scenarios. However, as we often say in this newsletter, anticipating the future is not about making long-term predictions (somewhat silly). It is something that we often work on with our clients, and it is only a part of a larger process to:
- understand the surrounding ecosystem of innovation and its implications
- anticipate what may come and assess how prepared we are to face potential challenges and opportunities
- act now to get the insurance that we will be ready for what may come
You want to know more about the future of restaurants or what the future of your industry may look like? Contact-us!