PATA Reveals the Impact of COVID-19 on the Hospitality Sector

24th Jun, 2021

The Pacific Asia Travel Association recently published two white papers on the impact of the pandemic on the hospitality and foodservice sectors.

While the hospitality and foodservice industry is slowly recovering, the pandemic continues to exert profound impacts on how these businesses operate. Uncertainty over demand is a consistent challenge for almost all operators during this period. As kitchens reopen, teams struggle to forecast daily consumer demand and changes in consumption patterns.

This demand uncertainty brings increased levels of food waste after lockdown. Winnow, a tech company that builds AI tools to help chefs run more profitable and sustainable kitchens, found that relative levels of food waste would, on average, rise by 50% during the first month of reopening.

Winnow works with hospitality teams and chefs all over the world to help them measure and prevent food waste. They serve customers in over 40 countries, across the diverse sectors of contract catering, hotels and resorts, cruise ships, casinos and retailers. A global presence provides an opportunity for them to benchmark the impact of the pandemic on levels of food waste.

The old adage, “what gets measured gets managed”, has never been more true than in a kitchen environment. The pandemic has resulted in even higher staff turnover and changes to menus and costs. Each of these areas can significantly impact the profitability of the kitchen.

The impact on sites that adopted food waste measurement tools pre-pandemic vs those that had not is different. Winnow set a ‘baseline’ at the beginning of every reduction program - this is a measurement of the levels of waste in the kitchen before any interventions are made.

Post-pandemic they are seeing sites that they would have previously expected to have a waste value of around 2% of their sales total now recording upwards of 3.5%. This shows the impact the fluctuating demand is having on sites without measurement tools in place. This finding underlines the importance of as you start opening up, if you were not measuring food waste before, getting serious about measuring it.

Agility has never been more important for the hospitality and foodservice operators to find new routes to market and adapt to an ever-shifting landscape. In conversations with operators across the world, Winnow have also shortlisted four megatrends that will shape the agenda for the medium term: Changing consumer behaviour, Accelerated digitalization, Sustainability, New ways of serving food.

Whilst undoubtedly painful, the global crisis also presents us all with an opportunity to redefine and shape our future. If you are interested in reading more about this, Winnow have summarised their findings in a Whitepaper series with practical insights into how we might build back better.

Download the full papers here: Part 1 and Part 2.

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