Lunch! 2017 – the Round Up
We had a wonderful time at the 10th anniversary Lunch 2017 on 21st-22nd September at it’s new home London’s ExCel, with a new look too – particularly enjoyed the street names, we we’re based on Edinburgh Street! It was great to see some familiar faces, as the hospitality industry is full of, but also to meet some new ones and see all the innovation that is currently taking place in the industry. Just the fact that Lunch! has been going for 10 years has made us think hard about all that has changed in the food-to-go industry even within that period. The industry is almost unrecognisable from a decade ago.
We attended some of the fascinating keynote speak sessions from key industry figures, all with unique insights.
Here are some of our favourites:
Andrew Walker, CEO of EAT
Now CEO of EAT, we heard Andrew Walker compare and contrast the journey of EAT with his former employer, Pret A Manger, as he helps EAT on its return to former glory. He discussed EAT’s big advantage of having a central kitchen in Wembley, from where EAT can introduce a greater variety of ingredients into products in a way that Pret can’t – because Pret has a kitchen in each store. It’s an interesting lesson in centrality vs granularity, but shows what you can do when you don’t want to be hassled with multiple different stock items over multiple site kitchens. Something we can see both sides of, having implemented software for businesses with both central and satellite kitchens.
Andrew acknowledged that EAT is seen as the hot food place with better sales in winter, but sees no reason why cold food can’t handle as much innovation. And with 110 stores, 90 of which are in London, he spoke of the upcoming partnerships with TRG into airports and Compass into two pilot Debenhams sites as one avenue of EAT’s quiet expansion, while the focus is more on returning their food offering to ‘Good Mood Food’. The spirit of his talk was very much a return to tasty, flavoursome, wholesome and honest food that’s made fresh every day from scratch, helping EAT to get back on the right path as a priority, He stressed the importance of getting your food offering just right, respecting that customers can’t be pigeonholed. People eat differently every day and offering a breadth of healthy yet tasty choices across stretched hours should accommodate this.
EAT is buying the best quality at a price it can afford – and there is of course a supplier issue implicit in this. As British suppliers become more competitive, EAT may look to buy British if and when this happens. Interesting in the face of Brexit, so watch this space!
In a time when every business is frantically looking to their competitors and so bowing to the pressure of home/office delivery, EAT’s journey is about looking inward to regroup, and maintaining the integrity of their lunchtime offering for people to experience the tangible food experience of getting out of the office to be once again tempted by an exciting flavour and taste experience.
Louise Pilkington, Consumer Marketing Director of Compass Group UK and Ireland
Louise led an illuminating discussion on what 10 year olds can teach us about food, and how the food industry will have to change in response to this.
Our global client, Contract Caterers, Compass feeds the whole age range across the UK, from cradle to grave. This means that Louise has a fascinating insight into demographics and regions. Not least of these is obviously feeding children – and this has enabled a glimpse beyond the horizon: the enforced future of food-to-go.
Louise discussed how Generation Z (born 1995-2010) are so wildly different from previous generations – and their approach to food – that they can’t just be mapped onto future models of their parents. Born into a turbulent time, Generation Z have a unique combination of empowerment, awareness, diversity, resilience, and understanding of the consequences of decisions. They understand the economy, the planet, the world of work (and especially entrepreneurialism), and, of course, technology. Taught differently, and taught to think differently – they think and they care more, especially about sourcing, cooking and choosing food. Mealtimes have become less traditional: increasingly featuring world foods, out of home, at varying times of day.
We heard how our children’s generation will take the food industry in an intrinsically healthy direction, where everything will be wholesome by default, not just paying lip service to ‘healthy options’. If and when Brexit inflates food prices, the question of what may happen to food tastes – and brands that take their corporate and social responsibility seriously – may well be led by Generation Z’s decisiveness.
Special mention must go to the the panel discussion we attended: Increasing Profits in Food to Go with Mark McCulloch of WE ARE Spectacular, Rory McEntee of Benugo, Jay Morjaria of Sutra Kitchen, and Alex Stone of Trade. In this we heard about queue management and service speed, and utilising technology for customers to click and collect, as well as the visibility of signage on products – especially nutritional and allergy information. Rory spoke in depth about the increasing burden of food costs – something we can help businesses keep on top of, of course!
We were so inspired by the many keynote speakers, and of course, wowed by the products rewarded with a gold Innovation Challenge Award : The Collective’s Pro-yo Berries, Jake and Nayns Naanster, Little Moons Moch’s Black Espresso mochi ice-cream (seriously – wow!) and Tuk Tuk Chai.
Well done everyone at Lunch! 2017 – see you next year!