As 2021 comes to a close, grocers are turning their focus to next year. Many are giving greater focus to their catering and prepared food operations, looking to leverage two trends. First, per the Technomatic 2020 Off-Premise Catering Study, in 2020 the industry saw record levels of consumer spend on “Food At Home,” 62% versus 38% spent on “Food Away from Home.” Second, the Technomatic study found strong signals from consumers that there is pent-up demand for social experiences and celebrations post-COVID: baby showers, football viewing, holiday gatherings, etc; all occasions that lend themselves well to catering.
Our team of catering and technology experts put together six trends all grocers should know heading into 2022.
Most grocers who offer catering and prepared foods see a huge spike during the holidays. But what many don’t talk about is that their catering business is almost non-existent outside of the holidays. Because catering and prepared foods are so profitable, we’re seeing a lot of interest from grocers in boosting this part of their business to make it less cyclical.
Many grocers have historically offered simple items such as party trays for years, and that’s given the industry a certain reputation. Grocers are now making a concerted effort to go beyond this, with many new options, including organic, vegetarian, gluten-free and heart-healthy choices plus hot meal options.
When takeout became the leading type of restaurant order in 2020, grocers became competitors and that hasn’t changed. Grocers view their prepared foods as very much an option to traditional restaurant takeout and they are starting to market them as such. We’ll see a lot more head-to-head combat here in 2022.
Restaurants and meal-ordering apps tend to offer real-time order tracking, and soon grocers will too. This is an important feature that customers want, and will help grocers better compete with restaurants and food ordering apps.
Many large grocers have implemented kiosks in the deli and bakery and now, grocers of all sizes are looking at kiosks for catering and prepared food orders as well. Kiosks eliminate the mistakes that come with manual order taking, and help grocers who are short staffed. By the end of 2022, there could be one kiosk in every grocery store in the U.S.
Right now, very few grocers offer catering delivery. The third-party services they’ve typically relied on for delivery haven’t been equipped for these larger orders. But that will change in 2022. Grocers have to figure out catering delivery if they are going to compete with restaurants. Those who equip themselves with this capability will lead the charge.
Staying up on catering trends in one thing, but also staying ahead of the curve on catering technology trends and being able to deliver on them constantly can quickly become arduous. That’s why choosing the right technology partner is so important.
Contact us today to discuss how FoodStorm can help you realize your business’s potential.