E&S Extra

Editorial Director Joe Carbonara provides insights and commentary on the state of the foodservice equipment and supplies marketplace.


The Changing Role of Foodservice

Foodservice really isn’t foodservice. In the recent past, as the name implies, foodservice operations simply provided food as a service to their customers, whether that took the form of a restaurant, a cafeteria, patient feeding, etc. Today, however, executing that menu represents but one small ingredient in a foodservice operation’s recipe for success.

Consumers’ expectations for foodservice have never been higher. They demand transparency, locally sourced ingredients and customization — and that’s just the first course. Today’s consumer expects high-quality food. That’s become rather ubiquitous. What they demand, though, is an experience in which food is part of helping them live the lifestyle to which they have become accustomed.

Look at the changing nature of senior care, for example. Foodservice in these facilities used to mean simply providing nourishment for the residents living on campus. Today, foodservice plays a much more diverse role. It has to allow residents to maintain their lifestyles and serve as a platform that allows them to entertain their loved ones. In other words, for senior care facilities, foodservice must become the vehicle that delivers hospitality not only to the residents but to their guests, too.

On college campuses, foodservice plays a variety of roles for students. It provides fuel that keeps them going through their action-packed days and serves as social infrastructure that allows them to develop friendships with their peers and professors. At the same time, a growing number of college administrators view foodservice as an opportunity to generate revenue. That means foodservice evolves from being an actual service to a profit center.

Commercial restaurants continue to adapt their hours of operation, menus and operating platforms to become a more integral part of their customers’ lives. Restaurants do this not only to deepen their relationships with their existing customers but also to drive a greater return on their existing facilities. For example, limiting a restaurant’s “shoulder periods” — its downtimes — can potentially generate a higher return on its investment.

Indeed, the way consumers and operators view foodservice continues to evolve at a rapid pace. That said, the one constant is operators’ reliance on foodservice equipment and supplies to meet customer demand.

As their businesses evolve and customers become more sophisticated, though, operator demands on their equipment and supplies packages will only increase. To keep pace, each member of the foodservice industry will need to keep their reservoir of product knowledge replenished. And that’s where FE&S’ Quarterly Product Knowledge Guide can help. Each edition provides an overview of a series of product categories paired with frontline knowledge from consultants, service agents and dealers who specify and work with these products on a regular basis.

The net result is a unique educational product that you can use to make informed decisions that will help you and your business thrive in this ever-changing environment.