Food & Beverage is the current global trend. It is the phrase on everyone’s lips and is being tipped as the saviour of modern retail destinations. Retailers in this sector are more sought after than ever before, and developers are more focused than ever before to ensure their latest projects have the right mix of F&B, as today this really is the recipe for success.

In today’s fast-paced digital world where everyone is always on the go, food today provides a unique opportunity to socialise that is one of the few things that cannot be experienced via technology. Food and beverage destinations act as the social glue, allowing people to connect and to experience real emotions they cannot live online.

Walter Seib, CEO of HMSHost International comments: “As a global population, we are increasingly connected. Digitally speaking, more than 56 per cent of the world’s population, representing 81 per cent of the developed world, is now online. Last year more than 4.3 billion passengers traveled around our globe. We are experiencing more of the world than ever before – and we are sharing these experiences online. This connection means that trends are no longer largely limited to a single culture, or to slowly rumble their way from dominating cultures to the beyond; trends are transferred across cultures, across continents in real time, influencing one another, inspiring local interpretations and global demand.”

Food & beverage creates life-place spaces that speak to people. It is reshaping the traditional retail industry, allowing developers, operators and owners to turn retail destinations into real lifestyle places and social hubs. This social function of food concepts in the digital era generates today a great demand on the market attracting capital flows that allows current food formats to grow and many new ones to emerge.

Whilst technology cannot replicate the experience of food and beverage, it can magnify and spread it, acting as one of the main drivers of its success. People are ‘Instagramming’ and ‘Tweeting’ all their favorite places, inviting other people to try them out. This means that whilst a food destination might create unique experience and be the social glue, it will be pushed by digital innovation
and technology and it therefore needs to be set up for this.

Whilst technology cannot replicate the experience of food and beverage, it can magnify and spread it, acting as one of the main drivers of its success. People are ‘Instagramming’ and ‘Tweeting’ all their favorite places, inviting other people to try them out. This means that whilst a food destination might create unique experience and be the social glue, it will be pushed by digital innovation and technology and it therefore needs to be set up for this.

Market-leading brands, innovative concepts, healthy, authentic and trendy menus are all things that push people to share the experience. This creates a social following leading more people to visit and replicate the experience they saw on their screen and share it once again. Socializing, experiencing and disrupting are the hashtags of current and future food & beverage retail destinations.

Global foodservice consumption is more popular than ever, with rapid changes in the way guests eat and receive their food. Total global foodservice spending is expected to grow 13 per cent across the next five years, producing $359bn in incremental value. This is driven in part by technology and the mobile evolution – by digitising the experience, consumers can get meals whenever and wherever they like.

As the individual meal becomes the new value, the lines between retail and foodservice will continue to blur, resulting in service becoming a larger component of every successful model. With delivery becoming the fastest growing dining occasion across the globe, dine-in experiences (relating to eating in a restaurant) are now being treated as separate foodservice occasions entirely. Almost 73 per cent of foodservice spend across the previous year has been attributed to dine-in occasions. Whilst consumers are still eating out, their reasons and motivations for doing so have changed. As such, consumers are now creating pockets of time to enjoy and appreciate unique restaurant experiences, rather than just ‘eating out’ at their favourite Italian.

It’s becoming an increasingly difficult trading environment for retailers around Europe, highlighted by numerous, high profile store closures and the fact that new shopping centre development has started to slow. With an increasingly competitive high street landscape, where foodservice is helping to reinvigorate previously unloved and unused spaces, there is a distinct shift by shopping centres to become the new heart of the neighbourhood. Landlords and architects are creating social environments away from home or work. These aim to unite the community in much the same way as religious buildings, public libraries or parks. As part of this trend, landlords are holding a magnifying glass to their role in society, delivering more sustainable, responsible and engaging developments. Unique experiences and a strong combination of dining, leisure, environment and retail are key to success.

Experiences drive footfall. An example of this is British Land’s Meadowhall, which saw August Bank Holiday visitors grow 50 per cent compared with the year before following a programme of experiential activities. Catering sales increased 6.7 per cent in August, while footfall after 6pm was up by 20 per cent. With more focus on foodservice in shopping centres than ever before and with its role being more important than ever, the critical thing for landlords will be not to over supply the market, particularly with the same old formats. Balance is critical, but a focus on fresh, innovative brands and regularly changing fascias will be what delivers success.