At your service
Ireland’s foodservice category is booming; worth a massive €7.8 billion according to a comprehensive study conducted by Bord Bia last year. However, with a huge array of choice now available to consumers within both the forecourt and convenience store sectors, no retailer can afford to stand still. Fortunately, the country’s leading foodservice suppliers are determined to help their clients live up to consumer expectations, writes Gillian Hamill
17 April 2018
Ireland’s foodservice market continues to grow and is now valued at a record €7.8 billion, comprising over 33,000 individual outlets, according to Bord Bia’s 2017 Irish Foodservice Channel Insights Report. The study, which also tracked consumer behaviour and sentiment when eating away from home, highlighted that take away, or grab-and-go concepts, are one of the key drivers of foodservice growth and that healthier foods are trending and influencing menu ideation.
Bord Bia’s research likewise showed over one-third (35%) of consumer spend is found in Limited Service Restaurants*, which incorporates quick-service restaurants, fast-casual dining and food-to-go, with 12% attributed to Full Service Restaurants. Consumer spending in pubs (excluding alcohol) accounts for 17% of the market value and is showing a lower year-on-year growth rate than the overall market, attributed in part to Brexit which has decreased weekend trips and holiday visits to Ireland by UK travellers. The two segments showing the biggest share gain are the hotel segment, accounting for 17% of total foodservice consumer spending and the coffee shops and cafes segment which now accounts for 6%.
“We’re delighted to report that the sector remains on track to grow at a compound rate of 4.9% and to reach a value of €9 billion by 2020,” said Maureen Gahan, foodservice specialist in Bord Bia, commenting on the results. “Ireland has started to become known as a ‘food destination’ and much of the investment operators have made in quality and service upgrades have helped fuel the foodservice growth witnessed in the island of Ireland.”
Indeed, this growth can also be seen in the increase in innovative, experimental new foodservice concepts, which incorporate international cuisines and flavours, alongside fun and informative events by suppliers to the foodservice sector, such as menu tastings with respected chefs.
Continued economic prosperity has contributed to a relatively strong and healthy foodservice industry. Bord Bia detailed a number of key trends playing an important role within this category. These include the fact that coffee shops and cafés maintain their position as the fastest growing sector, and the investment in beverages has been seen across all segments as operators strive to provide high street level coffee and beverage programmes to their guests. Flat whites are a trending coffee beverage with coffee perceived as an affordable luxury among consumers. Health trends are also beginning to shape coffee orders with consumers seeking out alternative milks.
Bord Bia also reports a rise in fast-casual concepts (limited service but generally more upscale, offering higher quality ingredients and higher average spend than quick-service) is taking place to meet the consumer demand for higher-quality foods at an affordable price.
Technology is a foodservice-enabler and third party delivery is causing some disruption and seeing strong growth, particularly in major urban centres as a result of younger consumers and business travellers favouring convenience.
A focus on provenance can likewise be seen, particularly with new chains finding success in labelling menu items as “fresh” and “local” which are often associated with “better for you” items. Meanwhile, large foodservice brands and forecourt stations are aligning to the consumer demand for healthier options and so upgrades and investments continue, with a focus on fresh foods and made-to-order offers.
The introduction of new cuisines and variety into the Irish diet as a result of the continued entry of international brands into the Irish market is also shaping the market. This is also creating additional competition for home-grown brands.
Q&A with… Bláthnaid Ni Fhátharta, marketing director for Corporate Communications & Foodservice, Kepak
Kepak, Ireland’s leading meat supplier to the foodservice market, has launched a new online customer loyalty programme that adds an innovative dimension for trade customers when ordering Kepak/Big Al’s foodservice branded products. We caught up with Bláthnaid Ni Fhátharta, marketing director for Corporate Communications & Foodservice to learn more
Q: Who is the Food Alliance aimed at?
A: The Food Alliance customer loyalty programme is aimed at foodservice customers such as food-to-go retailers, fast food operators, pubs, restaurants, coffee shops and hotels.
Q: How is the Food Alliance different to traditional loyalty programmes?
A: Food Alliance, which is free to join, is a departure from the traditional loyalty programme, especially in the foodservice industry. Traditionally, points have been earned on purchases only. Kepak, however, is disrupting this model by not only rewarding operator purchases but also rewarding them on excellence such as attending training programmes or participating in market research via surveys.
Q: What types of rewards are available via the programme?
A: Points earned can be redeemed for a fantastic range of personal and business items such as catering equipment, digital marketing tools, spa breaks, family fun days, holidays and much more. Operators can also donate their points to the Jack & Jill foundation and Kepak will match their donation.
Q: How does a foodservice operator join the programme?
A: It’s very simple – foodservice operators can register online via www.foodalliance.ie or www.foodalliance.co.uk or by downloading the free app. They are immediately rewarded with a free gift on joining and automatically earn points every time they place an order.
Innovative new loyalty programme
Kepak has launched a new online customer loyalty programme that adds an innovative dimension for trade customers when ordering Kepak/Big Al’s Foodservice branded products.
Food Alliance rewards selected Kepak foodservice customers such as food-to-go retailers, fast food operators, pubs, restaurants, coffee shops and hotels with points which can be redeemed for a fantastic range of personal and business items such as catering equipment, digital marketing tools, spa breaks, family fun days, holidays and much more. Operators can also donate their points to the Jack & Jill foundation and Kepak will match their donation.
“We’ve always appreciated repeat business from our loyal customers, says Bláthnaid Ni Fhátharta, marketing director for Kepak Foodservice & Corporate Communications. “The Food Alliance programme now enables Kepak to give back in a meaningful way to those customers and thank them for their dedication to our products.”
“Kepak continually explores ways to innovate and deliver solutions that will help forward-thinking foodservice operators drive customer loyalty and ancillary revenues,” she adds. “Our research has revealed that a wide range of business-focused rewards and services was the most important aspect of a loyalty programme to our members.”
Food Alliance, which is free to join, is a departure from the traditional loyalty programme, especially in the foodservice industry. Traditionally, points have been earned on purchases only. Kepak, however, is disrupting this model by not only rewarding operator purchases but also rewarding them for excellence such as attending training programmes or participating in market research via surveys.
A superior range across categories
As part of a leading global food business, Aryzta Food Solutions Ireland is committed to offering its foodservice customers a superior range of products that add value and growth to their businesses. Dedicated account managers, chef-trained business developers and product development managers strive to deliver flexible and high quality solutions to customers across all foodservice channels.
Aryzta’s portfolio of five core brands extends across a variety of categories.
- Hiestand: This specialist bakery brand has produced high-quality breads and pastries for over 50 years. The breadth of the Hiestand range delivers for customers in all foodservice channels.
- La Carte: From essential ingredients and condiments to ready-meal solutions, this range has been carefully selected to balance flavour, quality and value to provide mid-market customers in the pub/deli/café trade with a well-rounded food solution.
- Coup de Pates: A premium foodservice brand that is ideally suited to meet the needs of hotel and high-end restaurant customers. The excellent range combines innovation and tradition to include bread, viennoisserie, pâtisserie, savoury, reception and semi-finished products.
- Otis: The home of the company’s American sweet-bakery offering with an incredible range of donuts, cookies and muffins combining classic flavours with trendy innovations.
- Make ‘n’ Bake: A range of pre-mixes and inclusions suitable for all foodservice customers who wish to add a personalised touch to their finished goods. In just a few easy steps, you can Make ‘n’ Bake a wide variety of cakes, breads and confectioneries which deliver a consistent ‘scratch bakery’ feel and taste great.
At the core of profitable Irish retailing
At Martin Food Equipment, “we gather the most innovative catering and retail equipment from across the world,” says Frank Doonan, managing director. “We take this equipment and wrap it in a range of services that include menu development, project design, staff training and comprehensive after-sales support.”
According to Chris Mc Geough who heads up the Key Account division at Martin Food Equipment, the company is well placed to help customers compete. “We serve our customers by being an integral part of their strategic planning and menu development team,” he says. “We monitor the latest trends in international foodservice and our experienced team work with our customers to deliver innovative profit generating and cost saving solutions.
‘We work in partnership with our customers’ food development teams and their key food suppliers through rigorous testing of their proposed new menus using our most advanced equipment,” Mc Geough adds. “We subject all new equipment to critical engineering examination to ensure ease of use, durability for longer life and economy in terms of energy consumption. This approach has been part of Martin Food Equipment’s strategy for serving our more than 6,000 customers for over 25 years.”
Quality hot and cold display
The company calls this strategy ‘Serving Retail Foodservice Success’.
At the core of any successful retail foodservice operation, the company also points out, is a top quality hot and cold food display.
“It is clear that fresh ‘food-to-go’ is hugely popular with today’s busy consumers,” Mc Geough adds. “Because consumers buy with their eyes, a top quality food display has an integral role in successful hot and cold food sales. Food must remain fresh and attractively displayed to entice customers to buy. At Martin Food Equipment we offer a wide range of heated, chilled and ambient food displaays to suit every retail convenience store.”
Martin Food Equipment can supply everything needed for an elegant and attractive food display to maximise the visual impact and increase food sales. The company’s merchandising offer includes:
- Design of hot, cold and ambient deli food displays
- Fabrication and construction of bespoke merchandisers as well as the world’s most innovative brands
- Installation, project management and on-site staff training
- Menu development and aftercare service with full training and support
Retail Foodservice is a dynamic business that needs to respond quickly to new food trends from across the world, and in this respect, Mc Geough highlights the fact that “at Martin Food Equipment we work in close collaboration with our key retailer customers. We strive to be of value through continuous innovation.”
The Martin Food Equipment range of exceptional retail foodservice equipment gathered from around the world can be viewed at www.martinfoodequip.com or email email@example.com and request a copy of its handbook, ‘Retail Solutions For Success’.
Reducing food waste
In today’s climate, reducing food waste is an important objective for any responsible business and Musgrave MarketPlace is keen to point out the strong progress it has made in this area.
In fact, Musgrave MarketPlace has donated the equivalent of over 250,000 meals to charities across Ireland through its two-year partnership with FoodCloud. The collaboration forms part of Musgrave Group’s ongoing commitment to reducing levels of food waste in Ireland.
“As a company, we are dedicated to reducing levels of food waste as well as reducing our CO2 emissions,” says Desi Derby, marketing director at Musgrave Wholesale Partners. “Not only does our partnership with FoodCloud help us achieve this goal,” he adds, “but it also means that local charities in the communities that we operate in can save on food bills and reduce their running costs.”
FoodCloud is a social enterprise that connects businesses with surplus food to charities in their local communities via a technology platform. Musgrave MarketPlace donates surplus food directly to the FoodCloud Hub in Tallaght from its central distribution centre in Blanchardstown, every day. As a result of the partnership, charities like the Simon Community have been able to reduce weekly food costs by 30% or more.
Speaking about the impact of the partnership, Jennifer Kitson, Fundraising Department, Dublin Simon Community said: “The Musgrave Marketplace partnership with FoodCloud has been contributing to Simon’s Riversdale House for the last couple of months. Riversdale House is a long-term accommodation service for people with high support needs following years of homelessness. The donated food items are a valuable part of our ‘Food for Simon’ programme, which helps us to reduce the costs of running our services, leaving more money for other essential support services.”
Listening to customers
A strong focus on the customer is the key to success, according to Ricky O’Brien, commercial manager, BWG Foodservice.
“At BWG Foodservice we pride ourselves on our strong relationships with our customers,” O’Brien says, “and believe that the only way to improve and remain at the top of our game is to listen to our customers and to provide them with the solutions and service they require.”
According to O’Brien, “consumers today are more health conscious, are eating less processed food and are now looking for more convenient ways in following a healthier lifestyle and diet, which has increased the demand for fresher, healthier and more natural food solutions.
“The range of fresh produce has never been more available to consumers and the increase in demand is only demonstrating that consumers are more familiar and adventurous with these products,” he continues. “There still is a demand for indulgent food but, where once a frozen burger was acceptable, now we want fresh locally produced meat.”
With this in mind, BWG Foodservice has engaged with local suppliers like Heaney Meats and Jackie Leonards F&V to enhance its range and ensure the company can trace all its fresh produce from farm to fork.
These local partnerships provide customers with a next day supply of meat cuts produced to individual requirements and ‘fresh-from-the-garden’ fruit and vegetables that provide many of the vitamins and minerals that are essential to our good health.
While O’Brien notes that BWG Foodservice is experiencing increased demand across its full suite of fresh produce, the growth in the demand for superfoods like avocado and spinach is particularly noteworthy. The company is also experiencing an increased demand for high quality authentic continental meats for tapas menus and BWG Foodservice is now moving more into premium sandwich and lunchtime options.
Overall, the big trend across the spectrum is a move to fresh, healthy products. Salads are now always an option on menus in restaurants and commercial catering outlets throughout the country. Irish consumers are seeking guilt-free, or reduced guilt, fast food with better ingredients.
“That is why every product in BWG Foodservice’s Chef’s Kitchen Range is carefully selected by our specialist buyers and then put to the test in our very own commercial kitchen,” O’Brien says. “This ensures that our commitment to a high-quality, own-brand range of products is met. Chef’s Kitchen is our quality own brand catering range that does not compromise on quality.”
This also explains why BWG has a strong focus on investing in development and innovation of fresh categories, so that it is providing customers with the most up-to-date food trends and demands to give them more choice and variety.