Exploring the Future of F&B

At JLL Foodservice Consulting we spend our days travelling the globe to review the foodservice offer in all kinds of developments. This gives us a unique take on the latest food trends – something that our clients often refer to us for. After all, who doesn’t love to know about the latest openings, cuisines and cooking styles? We help our clients stay ahead of the game by writing a trends book each year, based on our observations and knowledge of the industry. You can download our most recent one here.

Last week I took the opportunity to spend the morning at Portland Design’s ‘New Food Frontiers’ Conference, which featured a star-studded line up of industry professionals, innovators and entrepreneurs who are defining the future of the food and beverage market.

We learnt a lot throughout the morning, but the two main learnings I would like to share with you are about consumer behaviour, which we know from experience plays a big part in defining the strategy of the most successful Centres.

The Easily Distracted Consumer

What was really interesting to learn was how easily distracted we are in everyday life, whether at work or in a social environment…I even bet since reading this you have been distracted by something? Consumers in today’s world have short attention spans, so the information and details we receive have to be quick, sharp and focussed. The growth of convenience has played a major part in this, with F&B available almost everywhere, at any time and in portable sizes.

Complementary to this, social media allows us to pick up information in bite size chunks, at any time of the day, and we are now seeing more operators take advantage of this. The best operators have engaging streams on Instagram or Snapchat that share stories, ask questions and create experiences for the world to engage with. The easily distracted consumer has developed around us becoming lazier, with expectations being imminent rather than phased. Lunches are now largely a ‘quick fix’ at our desks, rather than a long experience at a restaurant. Foodservice in Shopping Centres has catered to this changing need with the Fast Casual movement, high quality food that is served and eaten quickly in a relaxed environment and can be taken away. We emphasise to Landlords that the key to successful foodservice lies in satisfying the distracted, lazy consumer with a quality, differentiated and engaging offer.

Tradition is Dead, Reinvention is Key

Consumers want to engage with food in new ways. This can manifest in new marketing channels and technologies, but primarily relates to new eating environments and cuisine types. One of our passions and strengths at JLL Foodservice Consulting, is to ‘create great places for people’ in all of our projects. This is evident at Trinity Kitchen (Leeds), Mall of Scandinavia (Stockholm) and El Mercat at Les Glories (Barcelona). In each of these, we worked with our clients to defy tradition and reinvent the F&B experience for their guests.

Operators want to stand out from the crowd and are creating more ‘street food’ style units. No longer is it ‘cool’ to have just a restaurant, but to have the kitchen inside a storage container whilst the seating area is created out of old plastic crates – now that is ‘cool’. The resulting factor is that foodservice environments in Shopping Centres are now becoming the experience, rather than being a supporting element to the retail or leisure offer.

We tell Landlords that in order to create new experiences, they need to move with (or even ahead) of the times. Looking forwards, rent structures and lease lengths will need to become more flexible in order to maintain innovation and keep the guest engaged. If your customer is bored, they will soon find somewhere else for their food and shopping needs.

I would like to thank Portland Design and all the partners who helped to put the seminar together, it was thought-provoking and reinforced that much of the advice we have been giving to our Clients and Colleagues is not only right, but it is the future of F&B.