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4 Foodservice Industry Trends to Watch Out For

Image of a chef cooking in a restaurant kitchenRecently it has become increasingly clear that the foodservice industry is beginning to look toward the future. This is something we alluded to in our piece on ‘The Food Equipment Service Industry Gets Disruptive’ — specifically with regard to the creation of the Food Equipment Digital Disruptors group, and its inaugural conference. Said conference brought together everyone from commercial kitchen service companies and software professionals to equipment manufacturers to focus together on promoting the foodservice equipment industry especially through social media engagement.

While an event like that signals positive promotional disruption, we are also seeing some specific disruptive trends preparing to take hold within the product and service offerings of the industry, some of which we’ll outline here.

1. Visually Appealing Appliances

This first example has less to do with performance and everything to do with presentation. In the last few years, there has been a clear movement toward open kitchens in restaurants. While some associate this trend with chains (such as Chipotle) or with performance kitchens (such as you see on shows like Top Chef), a lot of nice, newer restaurants are also embracing open designs. Fine Dining Lovers wrote about the trend and even went so far as to suggest these commercial kitchens lead to better food. The idea is that in addition to capturing customers’ interest and making good hygiene more transparent, an open kitchen also incentivizes chefs and cooks to do their best work.

As a result of this movement, we’ve begun to see commercial kitchen application suppliers focusing more on visual aesthetics. We expect to see more of the same, as more open kitchens lead to steady demand for appliances and equipment that double as restaurant décor.

2. 3D-Printed Equipment

It was fairly recently that 3D printing seemed like a cutting-edge, innovative concept as opposed to an accessible, practical manufacturing method. In a relatively short time, it has become the latter. On-demand manufacturing companies such as Fictiv provides a guide on agile manufacturing methods which include 3D printing, allow orders of all sizes to be fulfilled on very brief timelines; a 3D-printed project can advance from prototype to product line in just days. In other words, 3D printing is no longer a particularly exclusive technological concept — it’s something businesses and entire industries can take advantage of.

Accordingly, we’re likely to see numerous applications developing in foodservice. The ones generating headlines involve the 3D printing of actual food from edible material. However, we’re also going to see this technology used to create flatware, silverware, and glasses; it will also produce parts for a variety of kitchen tools and appliances.

3. Automation

Automation is a broad category and is already affecting the commercial foodservice industry. From improvements in supply chain management to efficient, kiosk-driven ordering at fast-casual eateries, automated functions are making dining a more efficient experience for consumers. More interesting though, is how automation will grow in use in commercial kitchens. We were introduced to a few applications of robots preparing food in 2018, namely, burgers and sushi in restaurants. Innovations of this kind may ultimately serve three purposes: reducing labor costs, improving hygiene, and generating publicity.

4. Food Safety

Food safety has always been a concern among companies in foodservice. However, we are beginning to see some new, tech-driven approaches to ensuring food safety, and they’re likely to represent a significant trend moving forward.

There are numerous innovations and applications. But overall, this concept tends to boil down to the implementation of the Internet of Things. A Food Safety Tech piece on food safety highlighted how IoT sensors can be used to do everything from monitor soil conditions on farms to regulate temperature during storage or transport. These tiny devices are made specifically to track conditions and report information as needed, such that actions can be taken to keep food as fresh, safe, and high-quality as possible.

Altogether, these trends represent significant progress in the commercial kitchen and foodservice industry and should help to bring about a healthier and more efficient future.

Exclusively written for GeneralParts.com
By: Riya Jurnee