Ireland’s foodservice market is set to grow by 6.1% this year, according to a new report by Bord Bia – with the industry in line to reach a value of €8.2 billion.

Foodservice is any kind of food prepared outside of the home – covering everything from Michelin Star restaurants to vending machines.

The report overall shows a strong picture – which is great, according to Maureen Gahan, foodservice specialist at Bord Bia. “We’re delighted that the industry continues to grow. It’s very much reflecting an economy that’s in growth mode – so increased consumer confidence means more money in people’s pockets for spending outside the home,” she said.

The growth has a fairly good spread, too, she said, though some areas are benefiting to a greater extent than others. “We’re very much seeing the growth within tourist areas, but certain parts of rural Ireland are still to meet those rates,” she said.

The expected growth of over 6% this year follows a few strong years for the food service sector – though Bord Bia is warning that the overall rate will begin to wane slightly in the years ahead. But there is still an expectation of robust growth in the coming years – with the body predicting a compound growth rate of 4.4% between now and the end of 2021.

That is in no small part due to the fact that some areas, particularly city centres, are reaching saturation point when it comes to convenience foods – with suggestions that certain parts of the country could be hitting ‘Peak Café’. “We’re potentially reaching that point in some cities with coffee shops and quick service restaurants, where we could be at a situation of saturation, where effectively one outlet cannibalises sales from another,” Ms Gahan said.

At the same time consumers are looking for quicker, easier options when it comes to food – and ones that are available at any time of the day. Bord Bia’s study suggests that this need is increasingly being filled by a range of businesses – from the aforementioned café through to convenience retailers and fuel forecourt operators.

“As consumers, certainly those who are working, more and more are spending longer days in the office – or very often longer commutes,” she said. “More time out of home means there are more opportunities for food and drink out of home. There are more options for food-to-go, and on-the-go is definitely an area that we’re seeing growth in – but when we talk about saturation it’s largely in city centre areas where there are more bricks and mortar outlets.”

At the same time, when consumers do opt to go out for a meal they are increasingly looking for an “experience” that goes beyond what’s on their plate. “With the rise of things like online shopping, Netflix and gaming and so on, often eating out is some people’s main form of entertainment,” Ms Gahan said. “So consumers who are spending money to go out and sit in a restaurant or hotel bar are looking for more from their investment.”

That could be something as simple as having a good atmosphere, and Bord Bia is seeing more locations trying to tailor their offering to respond to that. All of that is being done against a backdrop of disruptive technology, which has seen apps like Deliveroo change the way many businesses are orientated, Ms Gahan added.

 

Reference Source: RTE News