The link between digital innovation and revenue generation has become stronger than ever, thanks to the pandemic-propelled surge in off-premises business. To streamline ordering, payments, and takeout and delivery, foodservice operators served up a feast of mobile apps and other digital customer service capabilities.
Nonalcohol beverages are generating a lot of buzz these days. Ingenious infusions and eclectic flavor profiles are raising the category’s profile as foodservice operators strive to satisfy the market’s thirst for bold, refreshing taste adventures.
As debates about vaccination rates and the impact of the Delta variant of COVID-19 continue, major restaurant brands are feasting on profits. In particular, the fast food and fast casual segments are picking up speed in the race to regain revenue lost during the pandemic. In some cases, sales are soaring past pre-pandemic levels.
Pre-pandemic, build-your-own was on the verge of becoming a big foodservice trend as operators strove to satisfy millennials’ appetite for culinary experimentation and customization. But fallout from COVID-19 forced restaurants to trim menus and refocus on core offerings, leaving little room for mix-and-match varieties and personalized mashups.
There’s no getting around it: Despite driving sales progressively higher through off-premises channels, the restaurant industry had to eat some heavy losses in 2020. Even big chains took a big hit. According to the market research firm Technomic, the $304 billion generated by the 500 largest chains last year marks a $27 billion drop from 2019.1
But it turns out that bigger has proved to be better during the pandemic. The lion’s share of sales last year went to the 50 largest chains, which had the advantage of having already incorporated robust drive-thru, delivery and digital capabilities.1