Changes to the hospitality industry – past, present and future
"it seems that Brexit isn’t necessarily the issue as most companies have a plan in place for either direction. The problem is the state of limbo we are currently in, which causes uncertainty."
I recently attended The Foodservice Show at the NEC in Birmingham and we already have an early contender for show of the year. It had the bustling nature you would want at any show, matched with the glorious smells being produced by demonstrations across the floor.
Between tasting sample after sample, I had the pleasure of listening to an interview with Jan Matthews who spoke about her career, her time at with Olympic Committee and the hospitality industry as a whole.
Challenges facing the industry
It’s widely accepted that the biggest challenge facing the hospitality industry right now is Brexit, in terms of the challenges facing labour and food shortages. However, it seems that Brexit isn’t necessarily the problem as most companies have plans in place for either direction. The issue is the state of limbo the country is in because of it. Will it? Won’t it? With the current state of affairs it’s particularly hard for the industry to prepare effectively.
Matthews mentioned that the skill gap is widening with the industry not looking as “sexy” as it did in the past. Sure, many young people fall into hospitality who thrive and pursue a career from it, but not many actively choose it. Matthews went on to say that celebrity chefs have improved the perception of working in the kitchen by making it look appealing, but front of house is suffering. The way to improve this is to offer genuine career paths to incentivise and improve learning, an example Matthews used was that after ten shifts the employee could be given more responsibility.
Legislation is another challenge faced by the hospitality industry. Allergens came out of nowhere following the Pret backlash Pret, with most businesses quickly having to adapt and re-evaluate their allergen policies. This caused a full on industry change and led to a change of strategy for most venues.
The Future of Hospitality
And there is no doubt that recycling is going to become more and more important as we try to achieve a carbon neutral footprint. Matthews mentioned that during her time on the Olympic committee she was responsible for the catering and waste management at the London 2012 Olympic Games. They had a zero to landfill policy, which taught her that in order to achieve an efficient waste management system, you need to have a perfect streaming service otherwise it ends up in landfill. Matthews also stated that another hurdle is that charities do not have the infrastructure to collect spare food. So, whilst they would want the waste food to go to charities, they needed to make sure they had covered the logistical side.
Talking to exhibitors and listening to speakers at the show there is level of optimism, no matter what happens on the 29 March. The future looks bright for hospitality.