Everyone will have noticed supermarkets have opened a huge number of local stores, mainly to recognise that people did not want to drive and shop; requiring greater convenience to buy their food more frequently often within walking distance of where they live, with the certainty of the brand’s prices and quality.
The internet and access to 4G is driving this change, and the supermarkets have been developing sophisticated internet home delivery options. Food service is following the retail market in offering convenience with the restaurant chains developing home delivery options. There has been a huge growth in companies developing takeaway platforms such as Just Eat and Hungryhouse, and Pizza Express has announced 150 stores will offer a home delivery option. The latest AlixPartners/Peach report states that some 1,770 new restaurants opened in the last 12 months; this amounts to some 7% growth, leading to the thought there will be saturation in certain markets.
With the growth in home delivery, where does this leave university caterers, who traditionally have offered a delivered hospitality service (which has become increasingly sophisticated utilising technology, combined with a reduction in T&C’s, shorter order times and improved product quality)? With internal budgets coming under pressure, the challenge is on to find new sales opportunities.
There is also evidence that consumers are spending less time going out and switching spend from meals to snacks (‘grab and go’ and breakfast are the only segments seeing real growth, which is good news for university caterers).
There will be increasing demand for convenience and delivered takeaway products, not just from traditional customer groups, and technology will no doubt help in the logistics; but this business may not be incremental, which financially is going to be challenging, with money spread across campus but at an increased cost. This is what the supermarkets and, increasingly, restaurant chains will find; and there could be lessons for university food service caterers!
Charles Manners is a Director at Turpin Smale Catering Consultants. Contact him on 07836 550356