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meals on plates

Just one year ago, we were focusing our culinary efforts on authentic recipes, real food, clean ingredients and local sourcing and were making huge inroads with sustainable practices and waste-free kitchens. And, in an instant, 2020 shifted our priorities—consumers chose sanitation over taste and safety over sustainability, and we thought they would take precedence over all other choice factors.

Yet, as the year unfolded, our insights showed that the consumer trends we’d followed previously were still vitally important as consumers reflected on what really mattered to them for the future. With air quality improving globally and majestic mountains now visible for the first time in decades, consumers had tangible reasons to think about sustainability and how they wanted to live, work and eat.

Dine-in to delivery – contactless meals

Through it all, brands found ways to connect with consumers through all channels, beginning a two-way dialogue that empowers consumers to share the values they expect in the products they purchase. This trend is most evident in the food space, with the shift from dine-in to delivery, as the pandemic continues. The dining experience pre-pandemic was a core pillar of the restaurant industry, with consumers splurging on meals that were not only enjoyable but also sharable on social media in real time.

As consumers turn to takeaway solutions, their expectations are rising for good delivery experiences as they engage with a multitude of platforms and services. Quality, efficiency and speed drive decisions about repeat ordering, with consumers desiring technology that makes life easier—and not more complicated—as they revel in a digital space populated with endless food choices. While traditional dining-in experiences are built on time spent together and fostering relationships with our guests, for now the focus for us at Sodexo is on learning how to nurture those experiences without face-to-face interaction.

Transparency – where does my food come from?

Transparency in sustainability and environmentally friendly practices has been important to guests for several years, and COVID-19 is accelerating the scope into food safety and social issues as well. We have opportunities to leverage our plant-based offerings with stories that highlight our sourcing and support of local businesses to help grow guest awareness of our collective and individual environmental impact. Beyond values, consumers see trust as an important factor in their decisions; they want to be certain that a brand is taking measures to keep food safe. At Sodexo, our focus on transparency, trust and safety allows us to demonstrate how much we care about our guests, their experiences and their safety.

Health and wellness – mind and body wellbeing

Good health matters more than ever, and our restaurants have an opportunity to increase the variety of wellness foods we offer, whether through on-site dining, takeaway or delivery. Consumers seek solutions that help with physical, emotional and mental health needs and food is often the first thing they consider. During the pandemic, consumers around the world looked to brands for tips on personal health and well-being, seeking help and expertise in times of uncertainty. Leveraging insights and consumer expertise to address the spectrum of wellness needs is crucial to building trust, loyalty and satisfaction with our guests.

In this era of change, Sodexo continues to evolve, using trends and marketplace shifts to stay nimble, create initiatives and launch new brands to meet guest needs both now and in the future.

 

Find out more about our food services around the world.

 

This article was published for the first time on the personal LinkedIn account of John Wright, Senior VP, Global Head of Food, Sodexo.

February 19, 2021

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John Wright, Senior VP, Global Head of Food, Sodexo

About the author : John Wright

Senior Vice President, Global Head of Food for Sodexo

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