The two trends that will shape hospitality and catering in 2020 for us more than any and all others are sustainability and veganism. They are clearly linked to each other, but more than that we see them both as much more than trends, and the impact from people adopting and adapting to both will be far bigger than most forecasts.
Our reasoning is that the change in 2020 will be one of perspective, as more and more people will see both sustainability and veganism as a moral responsibility.
These opening statements may seem ‘extreme’ to some but after decades of climate change warnings the world is now seeing the consequences of ignoring them. Today sees Donald Trump and Greta Thunberg attending the same event as both speak at Davos, how things are changing.
And only yesterday Malaysia followed China’s example by ceasing to accept plastic waste imports from ‘developed’ nations across the globe, including the UK. Malaysia is now, and rightly so, returning 42 shipping containers of illegally imported plastic waste back to the UK.
Yeo Bee Yin, Malaysian Minister of Energy, Science, Technology, Environment and Climate Change took a firm stance saying that Malaysia would take “ensure” the country “does not become the garbage dump of the world”.
The key driver in 2020 to motivate a change in perceptions will be driven not by politicians or climate change activists but by money men. The people responsible for managing money all over the world will see that maintaining as much of the world as we can as their priority.
The Australian fires sweeping the country over recent months has not only been and continues to be a disaster for nature, it is also an economic disaster. With one third of the Australian population already reported to have been exposed to the smoke from the fires, the long term impact on healthcare costs will be enormous. Tourism is already severely impacted, which of course has a knock on impact on hospitality businesses. Insurance claims from the devastation to date run into hundreds of millions of dollars, the list of business sectors impacted grows by the day.
The fires are still burning and are a long way from subsiding, so news coverage will continue around the world for some time to come yet. The fires do also seem to have had more impact than polar ice melts, possibly as people are directly impacted from the fires now, rather than the ice melting impacting in future.
The only conclusion to be drawn from scientific evidence that investigates climate change, and the daily impact from it being reported on our news channels, is that it is real, and it will get worse.
So, what does all this mean for the hospitality and catering industry in the UK?
Sustainability and veganism have both migrated up the pecking order for all hospitality and catering businesses in the UK in recent years. In 2020 we think they will both become a fundamental of hospitality and catering businesses in the UK.
What do we mean by that?
Let’s deal with sustainability first.
Sustainability not so long ago was a term bandied about by marketers across hospitality and catering to paint their brand’s as green, while operations took little notice if any.
It then gathered momentum and significance with procurement teams selecting suppliers and products on sustainability credentials. The money men have most effect not evangelists, and as sustainability climbs higher and higher with private and institutional investors, so will its role within the return on investment priorities and operations of businesses.
Hospitality and catering businesses across the UK meet the day to day out of home food and drinks needs of consumers. So, monitoring food and drink trends in foodservice is of paramount importance.
The popularity of vegan, plant-based and vegetarian food is almost impossible to ignore, and coupled with the benefits to sustainability this mix is impossible to ignore.
The scales have tipped, and this was driven by non-vegans and non-vegetarians embracing a more plant-based diet, including vegan, plant-based and vegetarian options when eating out of home.
The adoption of vegan, plant-based and vegetarian menu options are prevalent across hospitality and catering, from McDonald’s and Greggs to Michelin star dining and everything in between.
Last year we saw clear evidence from caterers that not only is sustainability and veganism a priority for them, it is more profitable as a business.
We reported on The University of Cambridge removing all beef and lamb from their menus and replacing all carnivorous options with plant-based ones. It was first implemented in October 2016 and was actioned across 14 foodservice outlets at the University of Cambridge and over 1,500 hospitality events held there each year. Profits increased at the University of Cambridge across the period of implementation.
We also reported on the Brighton Centre, in conjunction with their catering partner KUDOS, announcing the removal of all beef products from its menus from January 1st, 2020. Both companies implemented the change citing their reasoning as implementing ‘moral responsibilities to their consumers’.
Like many changes, their impact eludes many as the speed and scope is unrecognised. So, we will continue to report regularly on both sustainability and veganism in the hope that none of our readership miss the business opportunity.