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Conference debates future food and service trends

Conference debates future food and service trends

The recent ‘Food at the Heart of Culture’ conference was hosted by EP Business in Hospitality in partnership with international law firm Bird & Bird at its London headquarters.

The conference brought together nearly 200 senior players from world-class hotels and restaurants and leading foodservice operators from across the country to debate some of the major changes and future challenges that are impacting the industry today.

The variety of speakers and businesses showcased during the day shared much common ground in line with the issues affecting them right now, despite being very different businesses, reinforcing the number of trends and recurring themes that impact the industry as a whole.

CEO at EP, Chris Sheppardson explained: “Food and beverage is pivotal in bringing people together both in life and work, but it is also central to improving productivity in the workplace. A key thread throughout the conference was the growing need to reach future generations, embrace all levels of society and people from the perspective of lifestyle, values, food styles and nutritional diets. But there is also a much greater level of generosity at play today, which is evident in the broader approach of many businesses and that is changing and becoming ever more progressive.” 

Many of the panel debates heard during the course of the day revealed that a greater level of social responsibility is emerging via food and service which is driven by a more sustainable approach, but also a recognition that food brings people together, so foodservice, hotels and restaurants have a genuine opportunity to play key leadership roles in communities and beyond.  

Key trends and highlights from the conference include:

  • There is a challenge to deliver a more personalised experience. Apps to support service delivery are key in hotels reaching out to multiple generations, as we need to start to understand our customers better
  • AI is becoming ever more important and there is a need to look at how it can improve understanding of the customer through access to greater data and information
  • AI and technology are becoming more personalised and playing a highly impactful role in engaging customers
  • Service is growing in importance. We need to see a marriage of AI combined with the best of traditional hospitality in terms of personal contact
  • Revenues can be increased and improved by hotels, restaurants and foodservice operations by playing a key role in supporting communities and social networks. The argument was that food and beverage is one of the very few things that brings people together and there is a genuine opportunity for the industry to play a leading role here, if it is able to grasp it
  • By 2050, 80% of all foods will be consumed within cities and for every £1 spent on food the cost is double in the cost of healthcare, environment and economic costs. There are major programmes in play seeking to create stronger processes to support sustainability and the food system.
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