Eating is like shopping

mondo della ristorazione e del food

[button link=”” icon=”none” target=”” color=”a30b0b” textcolor=”ffffff”]TESTO ITALIANO[/button]

In this article we will delve into a topic that we believe is interesting for many of you.

Who doesn’t care about the world of food?

How many of us love experimenting with new foods and realities in catering?

Especially how many of us now can not do without the evening with friends at the restaurant or tavern?

food La Piadineria

Since the advent of reality TV and the exponential spread of social media, the world of catering and food is now reaching levels similar to those of traditional shopping.

The search for novelty, the desire to experiment and the desire (especially after the pandemic) for fun and escape are now part of our daily lives.

If you think about it today the offer in the catering industry is really very wide with the possibility of choosing among Asian, local, South American and of course fast food. It is not so simple, it seems paradoxical, to choose where to go; however, there is no doubt that in each of us the concept of loyalty sometimes prevails.

Old Wild West

For the most important “goods” you can now count 4 or 5 different chains  offering the same type of product, for example, the world of burgers or pizza. How many signs do you think even for these two categories?

An extremely competitive market

The market therefore for the operators of this sector has become extremely competitive, even in the face of a need and expectation ,from final consumer, much higher than in the past.

Perhaps because reality shows have increased their sensitivity, or perhaps because in general the Italian consumer is very demanding, it has become very difficult for operators in the sector to be able to offer an experience without this entailing a judgment, sometimes even much severe.

In order to write this article with full facts knowledge we then went to the food area of the shopping center of Casalecchio (Bologna, Italy) which has been recently renovated and which has expanded the offer.

The most interesting fact was that on a modest and simple mid-week Wednesday of a sultry September already at 12:00 the whole food area was almost completely covered by customers, this shows that not only the mall works but that people have now automated the concept of taking a lunch break (also considering the little time available) at the mall.

In addition to this, it is clear to the customer that the offer is very wide and can touch a fast food but also something that is closer to traditional catering.

Dispensa Emilia food area

At this point it is quite natural to ask ourselves some questions, among which in our opinion the most interesting question emerges. That is:

Is there still space for something new in this area?

Will the increase in prices in general and consequently also in the catering sector affect consumer behaviour?

And finally, in addition to the food experience, customers are receiving adequate service from the staff of the various outlets?

In order to give an answer to the various questions we thought to involve a person who has been dealing with this sector for several years and who directs a magazine, RETAIL & FOOD, which for years has been the reference point for this market. We are talking about Andrea Aiello who, in a very clear way,gave a picture of the situation to date.

Andrea Aiello
Andrea Aiello

“Obviously my role imposes a position super partes, but I can certainly say that today there is space for new realities and new developments, but also the historical chains are ok; an example above all is LA PIADINERIA which, in my opinion, is a concept that has really found a second life. This is because they  started a very strong opening plant time ago, but also because they have made a very good activity of product innovation; they have put in place a strategy by which offers related to occasions change seasonally.

I refer to your considerations about the shopping center Casalecchio and that reflect the whole sector: it is not enough just the pleasantness of the store or the interest that can arouse a menu, it is important  as well the relationship with those working daily in the store. And this is the sore point; at this moment we do not know how to attract, entertain and relate properly with customers. We often find beautiful places and appetizing menus, but if those who are in the kitchen or in the room is not the best, the experience for the customer can be penalized. The sector so must find a balance between the income statement and staff management. Much is linked to the economic factor: food sector employees have a very low compensation; and this is a fact.

The second issue that is impacting very strongly on the availability of resources for stores are shifts and especially working weekends. Generation Z, now young adults, which was usually the natural basin to draw on to include resources in stores, no longer seems willing to give up certain moments of the day or weekend. Of course, the youngs don’t want to work for little money anymore and with these times. I know that some companies in the sector are studying solutions that can manage shifts in a different and more balanced way.

I do not know how this situation is going to be solved, but either salaries will be increased or shifts improved, or we have to turn to a different group of workers, which may be young immigrants who are pressing our doors searching for work. Through a good training they could enter these services.
There are already, but surely they are under quota, probably as companies are still afraid to put on front line, behind the bench, people coming from Asia or Africa.

food and shopping

To reply to your question on what’s new in the industry I can tell you the following: we at RETAIL & FOOD held in May the 5th edition of the award for the best food chains. We had a number of applications which stunned us: 116 formats, and many experienced operators in the field who told us that they were not aware there were 116 chains active at national level. At this event we really saw everyhting, but in a positive sense as there were so many different and stimulating formats. We saw above all a vivacity  testifying however a passion for this world absolutely present and I would say growing.

On the other hand it is evident the maturity of this sector, which now begins to have large national Groups able to produce a widespread presence on the territory on many channels and, at the same time also to absorb in its portfolio both own and franchised brands.

Intercepting and anticipating trends

Then there are those who are very good at intercepting and anticipating trends before they really become fashions. They’re the ones who create as perhaps they’ve been to lunch in California or Thailand on vacation. Many activities are born in thisway, visiting countries abroad and bringing back to Italy a new culture or adapting it to our tastes.

Finally, you ask me if there is still space for new things or if the market is saturated. There is surely space, statistics say without doubts. Italy is a country where the impact of the presence of food chains is lower in percentage terms compared to countries such as Spain, France, UK and Germany. This is because we have tradition, a history in the gastronomic field that makes the “grandmother” recipes, the country tavern ones as well as the festival ones, which last. The fascination for this world is there, it resists and ,seeing the growth of the number of festivals, it is strongly increasing. So, comforted by the numbers, I can say that the quota is foreseen to grow. We already see it in many of our cities where traditional stores close while opening chain stores”.

by Paolo ZanardiXT Retail

by AN shopfitting magazine no.177 ©