Take away rice chicken and salad in a glass box, text reads: from our leaders

Meeting the evolving food needs of our guests

John Wright, Senior Vice President Global Head of Food at Sodexo
About the author : John Wright

Senior Vice President, Global Head of Food at Sodexo

Published on : 9/16/20

While our guests are beginning to return to work, it’s clear that they’re not quite ready to return to previous ways of dining.

Insights reports tell us there’s trepidation in navigating the traditional restaurant environment. Because everything we do at Sodexo is based on what our guests need, we’re adjusting what we offer and how we offer it, while continuing to provide our guests with an ideal dining experience.

Takeaway meals with reduced contact risk

Over the past months, meals have changed for most of us. Consumers are purchasing food for takeout 33% more often than they did before the pandemic, and many say they will continue to do so. Consumers enjoy the convenience and they view takeout meals as a treat that gives them variety and a break from having to cook at home. However, they’re very concerned about safety, with a tremendous majority worried about the possibility of other guests contaminating the food they purchase. Consumers indicate they want packaged meals that eliminate that risk.

Addressing this concern required a shift in our operations, and I’ve heard many examples of how we’ve responded. Our takeaway service Simply to Go is expanding its offerings and repurposing self-serve salad bars and other merchandisers to provide greater choice to our guests. In the UK, more takeaway points were added in hospitals, making it unnecessary for workers in risk zones to cross into other areas. In short, our guests’ heightened need for safety spurred us to find new ways to better serve them.

Sustainable takeaway packaging

It’s important to note that our heightened focus on safety has not pushed our commitment to be a good corporate citizen to the side. In the UK, North America and Australia, sustainability is built into takeaway programs. Compostable packaging options are available in North America, and in the UK all packaging is recyclable. Acting on a client request, our team in Australia packages all retail items at that location in cardboard or glass and has since built a catalog for any other location who wishes to follow suit.

Innovative meal options

While safe packaging is top of mind for our guests, we are also making sure they experience quality and choice. As guests return to our restaurants, we anticipate they will seek familiar options at first, and look for additional variety over time. At this point, many of our guests will want to try new dishes and see trends incorporated in their meals. Across the world, breakfast is the fastest growing daypart, so we’ve created more choices for takeaway breakfast, going past the traditional offerings and adding on-trend dishes such as breakfast bowls, bakery, hot filled breads and both hot and cold oats. Consumers, especially those in the UK, tell us that they want hot dishes to be offered in takeaway. Simply to Go has expanded the menu to offer both hot and re-heatable meals, including grain bowls, wraps, sandwiches and traditional comfort food dishes, all freshly prepared and packaged for safety. Our team in Australia is currently offering family-sized takeaway meals, having recognized the opportunity to lessen the burden on working parents, minimize shopping trips and reduce the time required to cook and serve full meals.

Contactless payment options

When it comes to convenience, today’s consumers require efficiency, speed and contactless interaction/payment - all offered in one solution. We’ve achieved this through the use of technology, especially through our app Bite. Guests place orders through the app, allowing them to spend less time in restaurants. Those who choose to select their meal through traditional means can still have a contactless experience using the payment feature within the app.

Supporting our guests' needs as they return to the workplace:

Using our insights and the talents of our chefs and retail teams, Sodexo is able to focus on our guests’ needs. It’s my hope that as our guests return, they see the changes in our restaurants and know that everything we do is to make their lives better – to bring them convenience, ease, and safety, so we may earn their continued trust.

Learn more about our culinary expertise.

This article was first published on the personal LinkedIn account of John Wright, Senior Vice President Global head of food at Sodexo