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Food-to-go reopening: trends we’re seeing

Updated: Jun 22



As we move through the stages of lockdown release, albeit at different rates across different countries, we're seeing more reopening strategies emerge. Here we take a closer look at some of the initiatives under way and pull out some of the common themes.


1. Don’t feel the need to do everything straight away


A common trend has been to reopen with limited opening hours and a restricted menu, with McDonald’s perhaps the key example of this, but far from the only one. Underpinning everything as a first step is providing the reassurance to team members and customers that they're in a covid safe environment. The next step is shaping the revised menu around those items you are most famous for, and building from there.



2. Choose a reopening approach that will give you the best learnings

For multisite operators, it’s a tough decision over which stores to reopen first - and the key influencing choice for many has been which give the best launchpad for the reopening of the entire estate. Weekly sales, though important, are only part of the jigsaw at this stage, as food-to-go operators get used to a new trading reality. Building a regional approach, as the likes of Caffè Nero have done, feels like a sensible approach in this case to help build capabilities across groups of stores as a blueprint to take onto the next cluster. Of course, the question of whether all locations can ultimately reopen is unfortunately one that some will need to consider.


3. Technology will have a bigger role to play - the question is more one of how big?

Innovation has accelerated across a number of areas over the past three months, with technology coming into its own in the food-to-go arena like never before. The likes of Vita Mojo, working with operators as varied as Leon, Farmer J and Gentleman Baristas, have been busy. Their web app remote ordering solution has usurped the kiosk based operation they'd developed previously, and is giving them the chance to work with a range of food-to-go businesses. But they are just one of a number of tech businesses whose profiles have rapidly increased over recent weeks. It’s hard to say how big online delivery will be in the longer term, but we’ll almost certainly look back at this time as one in which online ordering became a much more embedded part of the food-to-go market.



4. Remember what drove your pre covid success, distil that into your proposition wherever you can


Having a clear view of your customer and what they value you for has never been so important. The trading environment has become a whole lot tougher, and carrying on as before is simply not an option for many. It's not about perfection on reopening, it's very much about getting used to a new trading environment, ensuring your team have the right platform from which to deliver and learning through the process. The next leg of the food-to-go journey starts here.

Want to learn more about the future of food-to-go?


Then join our webinar this Wednesday (June 24, 3pm UK time, 4pm CET). You'll hear from Wouter Staal, CEO of the innovative Netherlands food-to-go specialist Yoghurt Barn, Gavin Rothwell from Food Futures Insights and Benjamin Nothaft from RATIONAL. We will discuss the evolving food-to-go opportunity, including a focus on what will drive success at breakfast. Wouter will also share what he’s learned in shaping his own food-to-go opportunity and where is next for Yoghurt Barn.


Sign up here for Wednesday's webinar, or to listen back to the last webinar with Danny Scobie from Scotmid, click here. RATIONAL meanwhile has developed its food-to-go hub here, designed to bring together all the insights from our webinar series.

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