News from the future

John Hart

The National Restaurant Show in the US opens a window onto trends that are soon to hit our shores.

After a seven-year gap, I was very pleased to be able to attend the U.S. National Restaurant Association (NRA) Show and NRA board meeting in Chicago recently. The event took place with a global summit for restaurant association executives. The show provides a window to the future for our industry. There are also some areas in which we lead them.

The experiences of US operators right now are showing great disruption from the takeaway (or take-out) deliverers, a maturing food truck market, a return to a focus on local produce and the runaway technology train.

These issues have not yet fully developed in Australia. In the US companies such as GRUBHUB and Uber Food are changing the industry. This trend points to some of the stress points around the quality of the delivered product, the transportation, and maintaining temperature and appearance. Packaging is an important aspect of the solution for ‘restaurant-quality takeaway’.

Booking systems are now the norm in the US. Their focus is now on whether consumers will be prepared to order and pay in the restaurant on their mobile devices. While this might look like a bridge too far for Australia, responses to the NRA 2016 Restaurant Industry Forecast survey show that 46 per cent of younger diners say they believe that this would enhance the dining experience.

John Hart

CEO, Restaurant & Catering

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