What will the future of dining look like in a post-COVID world? While there are no easy and ready answers in an unprecedented crisis like this, Marriott International Asia Pacific has put together the “Reimagining F&B: Insights From The Inside” report, providing informed observations into how the pandemic is impacting and transforming the food & beverage industry in the short- and mid-term, especially in Asia.
From eminent chef-owners Gaggan Anand, Emmanuel Stroobant and Vicky Cheng to talented bar entrepreneurs Agung Prabowo and Tom Egerton, 55 key opinion leaders from key food cities in the region – Bangkok, Beijing, Hong Kong, Perth, Shanghai, Singapore, Sydney, Taipei and Tokyo – shared their viewpoints, which formed the 10 emerging trends in the report. Prolific food consultants and editors as well as chefs from Marriott International hotels also contributed their perspectives to the report.
“The most innovative companies have taken the challenges from the pandemic crisis and turned them into opportunities for creativity and growth, and Marriott International is no different. The Reimagining F&B: Insights From The Inside report was a collaborative effort, developed with the broad support of industry leaders from across the Asia Pacific region, and highlights our learnings and perspectives in our ever-important and growing F&B business. We are confident the report provides not just insights and information but also conveys our optimism and belief in the restaurant and bar sector as a whole,” said Bart Buiring, Chief Sales & Marketing Officer, Marriott International Asia Pacific.
While the pandemic has upended jobs, wages, farming and supply routes, it has also sparked innovation and delivered lessons to the industry, which are detailed in the “Reimagining F&B: Insights From The Inside” report. Here’s a look at five key learnings.
1) The Race To Stop Waste Industry insiders believe that sustainability will take a temporary step backwards as the rise in popularity of delivery and takeaway options has resulted in increased usage of paper and single-use plastics. Tom Egerton, Spirits Evangelist of Proof & Company says this is indicative of an understandable wider trend where immediate personal and family health is prioritised over a more nebulous and undefined future threat of climate change. Food writer David Yip says that the pandemic took everyone by surprise, but believes that more consideration will be given to sustainability when the dust starts to settle. Chefs like Jakub Mares from The Athenee Hotel, a Luxury Collection Hotel, Bangkok, and Massimo Pasquarelli from The Ritz-Carlton, Millenia Singapore say they are taking the opportunity to use sustainable biodegradable containers wherever possible. At the end of the day, the pandemic has intensified the urgency of building a greener earth, and F&B industry players must quickly devise solutions that consider their impact on the environment while fighting for business survival.
2) If You Care, Don’t Share Has COVID-19 marked the end of self-serve buffets, hot pot meals, and communal dining, which are popular styles of dining in Asia? 50% of the industry insiders foresee that communal dining is expected to take a backseat for a long time, while others insist it will remain a part of the Asian identity particularly in Chinese culture. China, for instance, has witnessed several campaigns like the “Serving Chopsticks Alliance” that promote the use of communal chopsticks when dining out. Hospitality group like Marriott International have also reacted swiftly to the local government’s call for the use of public chopsticks and spoons, by implementing across its properties two pairs of chopsticks for every guest who dines in a family-style meal setting, so that one pair is solely dedicated to the purpose of retrieving food from the communal plate. While diner skittishness is understandable in this climate, the consumer desire for such dining experiences is unlikely to change, so restaurants will have to find alternative ways to meet that need whilst ensuring their well-being.
3) Grounded Globally: What’s Eating The Food Supply Chain COVID-19 has led to an increased threat to our food security, but industry operators like Aki Wang, Owner of Indulge Experimental Bistro, who have always relied on local producers to supply ingredients to their establishments have been less affected. Locavorism, however, does not suit all restaurants and bars, especially in land scarce countries like Singapore that depend on imported produce, or establishments with niche concepts like Gaggan Anand Restaurant in Bangkok. Others like Jed Gerrard of Hearth at The Ritz-Carlton, Perth, also suggests businesses look at their own backyards or rooftop gardens to grow their own produce where possible. Moving forward, with continued transport and quarantine restrictions in place, farmers may face roadblocks to selling their produce, which can in turn curtail their production capacities. Maintaining a strong and consistent food supply chain in the face of COVID-19 will remain one of the key challenges for the F&B industry.
4) Ready, Get Set, Glocal 2020 has been hailed as the year of backyard travel. F&B businesses that have always depended on the domestic market are now reaping the goodwill, while others are now quickly shifting their approach to chase the local dollar. Even hotels have gone all out to woo locals with staycation packages bundled with dining discounts and wellness experiences, and reevaluating how their F&B concepts would resonate with the local community. At the Sydney Harbour Marriott Hotel at Circular Quay, Chef de Cuisine of Sylvester’s, Raphael Szurek, says apart from focusing on serving seasonal, local and honest food, creating pop-up events is one approach that can help stir interest among local diners. Moving forward, many foresee F&B to play an even larger role in sustaining a hotel’s bottomline. As such, hotels will have to think out of the box and create experiences that are not only unique but have a strong value proposition.
5) F.ood and B.everage I.ntelligence Since the COVID-19 pandemic, restaurants and bars across the world have integrated extensive technological solutions as part of safe dining measures. QR code menus and contactless ordering and payment systems have made their way to most venues. In particular, operators like Andrew Ho of Hope & Sesame, a speakeasy in Guangzhou are seeing the positive impact of artificial intelligence as it can collect millions of data sets to influence operational and business decisions, enabling businesses to stay ahead of the curve.
For more insights in Reimagining F&B: Insights From The Inside by Marriott International, download the full report here: https://drive.google.com/drive/folders/1oqrl_A3UvK-znihq8giguwIHYXuq82bw?usp=sharing.