Evolution of Food services in the post-COVID 19 era

Evolution of Food services in the post-COVID 19 era

Published on : 6/17/20
  • Consumer continues to remain the king!

    Food has always been synonymous with social collusion. It has dominated every gathering and celebration, served as the catalyst for promoting camaraderie and motivation. Many innovative ideas have been churned up over meals, many business associations have been sealed over coffee. But the COVID onslaught has not only put an end to social interactions (physically ofcourse), it has also changed the complete perspective towards food. With social distancing and stringent sanitation norms in place, food has suddenly undergone a massive shift from being an exotic treat to being a necessity. In keeping with this, food preferences and the culture of eating food are slated to witness a distinct transformation. Consequently, the considerations will also vary greatly for food services that cater to both kinds of organizations – with and without an on-site kitchen facility.

    Local choices – People will want to know the journey of food from farm to fork. They will be suspicious of food that has travelled a long distance from foreign lands. Faith in local food will be restored as it will be easier to verify the safety of food in this supply chain. In organizations with on-site kitchens, vegetables and livestock will be sourced from local farms; transported to kitchens where food will be prepared hygienically. The entire supply chain will be tracked to see if the food sourced comes from places free from the pandemic, apart from being fresh and of the best quality. Once it reaches the kitchen, the raw material will be disinfected before being cooked.

    Preference for home-cooked food – No matter how difficult it will be to find time for cooking while balancing home and work responsibilities, people will rush back home from the workplace to have home-cooked meals. There will be fewer stops at the dine-in restaurants to savour gourmet delights, atleast in the near future. This trend might begin as a compulsion, but later it will stabilize as a preference. In organizations with or without on-site kitchens, food that closely mirrors home-cooked meals will become a priority.

    Cautious dining – Even when people think of alternatives to home-cooked meals, they will be extremely cautious of the places they choose to eat from. In on-site kitchens, food will be cooked in smart kitchens that limit human contact to the minimum. The kitchen infrastructure will be redesigned to meet hygiene and social distancing norms. The kitchen staff will be regularly monitored for alarmingly high temperatures or any other symptoms of infection, personal hygiene and wellbeing.

    Healthier eating – Building immunity will be an important factor to avoid being infected by COVID or fighting it; hence, people will look for healthier food options. The earlier preference for indulgence food will now be replaced by a need for nutritious food. Organizations will add immunity-boosting food and beverage options to the menu to ensure the wellbeing of employees.

    Emphasis on food safety – Safety will become one of the most prominent buzzwords in food due to COVID. To ensure food is not tainted by touch, packaged food or boxed meals will be preferred. Microwaveable boxes will be in even greater demand. In on-site kitchens, customized dishes that can be accommodated in packaged meals will assume more importance as employees can avail them in a contactless manner and even carry it to their own work area for consumption. In case, employees consume their meals in the cafeteria, then utmost caution will be maintained while serving and picking up the food. The cafeteria design itself will ensure social distancing. Additionally, the meal packaging will meet sustainability goals.

    Since contactless delivery will be the main focus, digitalizing most processes will be a priority. From ordering food to delivery; everything will be possible through an app. Payments through cash will be stopped; with virtual meal cards providing the desired solution. Thus, smart vending machines with temperature controlled units to provide both hot and cold meals and ‘Grab and go’ packages that support digital payment will be preferable for employees.

     Leveraging the expertise of a holistic food services company

    With more than five decades of experience in 67 countries worldwide, Sodexo has been able to overcome many such challenges akin to COVID 19 and evolve its food services to meet the requirements of corporates whether in offices or manufacturing plants. In the present context, we have adapted our solutions to ensure that every organization can rely on us for quality food that meets stringent guidelines necessary for guarding against the pandemic.

    We assure the highest hygiene levels through preventive and reactive disinfection cleaning, sanitation and HVAC filter changes. We have already taken steps to revise the menu to suit packaged meals and identify even more evolved ways to cook healthier food. Our focus will be on sourcing local and seasonal ingredients, fruits and vegetables and sustainable packaging. We will further our capability to explore advanced digital technology that can enhance consumer experience in these trying times. Our health and wellness programs, benefits and rewards services such as virtual meal cards will add on to the experience.

    For employees working from home, Sodexo has associated with partner kitchens as well as India’s largest cloud kitchen player, Rebel Foods, to ensure that packaged meals reach home at the right time
    For more details about our adapted Food Offer, click here or connect with our team on Bdindia.in.apac@sodexo.com

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