Ahead of the MAPIC FOOD event in Milan, Francesco Pupillo, Deputy Director MAPIC Markets at Reed MIDEM takes a look at some of the key trends that are currently making their way across the food & beverage sector.

Food can now be found in shopping centres, in department stores and on the high street – even inside shops (for instance, H&M opened café It’s Pleat in its Westfield London store in December last year, and the H&M group’s newcomer ARKET, with locations in London’s Covent Garden and on Regent Street, also features an in-store café – while Japanese customers can now, finally, have breakfast at Tiffany’s following this month’s launch of Tiffany Cafe in Tokyo).

As pressure from online commerce is taking its toll on physical retail, retailers and landlords alike are looking for ways to get the modern consumer into their shops and centres, drastically transforming the positioning of shopping malls into leisure destinations. As a result, food is now considered a key component in reinforcing the attractiveness of retail destinations – offering customers the much-coveted experience that is said to be the saviour of physical retail. Not only does food help to increase footfall and dwell time – research shows that 40 per cent of customers choose a shopping centre based on dining options and that dining customers have a 35 per cent longer dwell time – it also has positive effects on the other retail elements, as a customer’s retail spend increases by 15 per cent when they dine.

If a centre has a good food service offering in place, its overall transactions will on average increase by 25 per cent. What makes food such a good place-maker, is that, in our increasingly digital society, it offers consumers an opportunity to come together – something that simply cannot be replicated through technology – and a reason to continue visiting physical places. This concept of food as “the social glue of the digital era” is the theme of this year’s MAPIC Food – taking place in Milan 8-9 May – which will see industry experts discuss new food formats, how to get the right F&B mix in retail outlets, what drives landlords and owners in their F&B choices and what food and retail destinations will look like in the future.

A highlight of the event will be Danish chef Claus Meyer, Co-Founder of two- star Michelin restaurant Noma and instigator of the New Nordic Cuisine movement, delivering a keynote speech on innovative and emotional experiences. Because while both consumers’ and landlords’ appetite for F&B grows, the need for innovative and fresh concepts has never been larger. With an abundant offering at hand, consumers are now expecting more than just great food – pushing restaurateurs to maximise the client experience to make it more attractive. One retailer offering an augmented experience is Starbucks, which last year opened Starbucks Reserve Roastery in Milan.

Described as “the most beautiful Starbucks in the world”, it showcases the art of coffee roasting, brewing and mixology with an interior design paying homage to old-school Italian espresso culture. When McDonald’s was opening a new location in Sydney Airport, it set out to create a unique and memorable customer experience – and the restaurant ended up including stand-out features such as a see-through sky kitchen and a vertical conveyor belt for delivering food orders between floors.

Another trend is retailers catering to an increasingly conscious consumer, making awareness part of its DNA. Notable examples include Pret a Manger’s venture into the world of vegetarianism with its Veggie Pret, which initially started as a pop-up concept but quickly became permanent due to its resounding success. Another casual dining operator that has taken advantage of the trend is Leon. Its “naturally fast food” is proving successful as the chain has reported exponential growth over the last few years – with vegan sales in particular growing 21 per cent between 2017 and 2018.

Territoriality is another trend, which sees a double movement spotlighting local supply alongside international influences: globalisation is influencing flavours with the increase of foreign cuisines in every part of the world and the emergence of fusion kitchens, while restaurants are turning towards locally sourced produce – a concept called locavorism – to enhance the sense of place and be kind to the environment.

For example, American fast casual chain Dig Inn promotes the local economy through partnerships with local farmers and NGOs, while opting to pay employees above minimum wage. Finally, as customers are becoming more and more health- conscious, the wellbeing trend is becoming increasingly prevalent. Food retailers taking this into account include French concept Mon Salad Bar, which offers salad as both main course and dessert, and The Cure, located in Paris, which lets customers choose their menu based on physical and mental mood.

These trends and many more will be discussed at the second edition of MAPIC Food, held in Milan on 8-9 May and taking place during the renowned Milano Food Week’s 10-year anniversary. The unique deal-making marketplace will welcome 2,000 participants from 50 countries including 200 buyers and 500 international food service retailers.

Described as “the most beautiful Starbucks in the world”, it showcases the art of coffee roasting, brewing and mixology with an interior design paying homage to old-school Italian espresso culture. When McDonald’s was opening a new location in Sydney Airport, it set out to create a unique and memorable customer experience – and the restaurant ended up including stand-out features such as a see-through sky kitchen and a vertical conveyor belt for delivering food orders between floors. Another trend is retailers catering to an increasingly conscious consumer, making awareness part of its DNA. Notable examples include Pret a Manger’s venture into the world of vegetarianism with its Veggie Pret, which initially started as a pop-up concept but quickly became permanent due to its resounding success. Another casual dining operator that has taken advantage of the trend is Leon. Its “naturally fast food” is proving successful as the chain has reported exponential growth over the last few years – with vegan sales in particular growing 21 per cent between 2017 and 2018.

Territoriality is another trend, which sees a double movement spotlighting local supply alongside international influences: globalisation is influencing flavours with the increase of foreign cuisines in every part of the world and the emergence of fusion kitchens, while restaurants are turning towards locally sourced produce – a concept called locavorism – to enhance the sense of place and be kind to the environment. For example, American fast casual chain Dig Inn promotes the local economy through partnerships with local farmers and NGOs, while opting to pay employees above minimum wage. Finally, as customers are becoming more and more health-conscious, the wellbeing trend is becoming increasingly prevalent.

Food retailers taking this into account include French concept Mon Salad Bar, which offers salad as both main course and dessert, and The Cure, located in Paris, which lets customers choose their menu based on physical and mental mood. These trends and many more will be discussed at the second edition of MAPIC Food, held in Milan on 8-9 May and taking place during the renowned Milano Food Week’s 10-year anniversary. The unique deal-making marketplace will welcome 2,000 participants from 50 countries including 200 buyers and 500 international food service retailers.