AHDB foodservice report explores challenges and opportunities


AHDB has produced a new report to explore the impact of Covid-19 and Brexit on the foodservice sector, and how long it could take to recover following a turbulent two years.

With ‘Plan B’ lockdown restrictions lifted, restaurants and pubs are looking to recoup some of the losses that resulted from a drastic reduction in footfall since the outbreak of the pandemic – leading to a decline in sales of red meat out-of-home.

However, AHDB data shows signs of a recovery with spend on food eaten out-of-home and the frequency of visits to pubs and restaurants, up year-on-year.

In its new report, Foodservice 2021: Recovery, Challenges and Opportunities, AHDB’s Retail Insight team has taken an in-depth look at the takeaway, delivery and eating-out markets to explore what opportunities exist to help aid a recovery and how enforced lockdowns impacted the meals we ate as well as the performance of beef, lamb and pork.

AHDB Senior Retail Insight Manager and co-author of the report Kim Heath said: “Forced closures, supply issues and staff shortages as well as school closures and working from home, had a major impact on the foodservice market throughout 2021.

“In our latest report, AHDB looks at the foodservice market recovery, how demand for meat out-of-home has been impacted by the pandemic, and challenges and trends which are affecting the foodservice market.”

The report explores a range of challenges for the sector and takes an in-depth look at new trends in the foodservice market, such as opportunities from continued working from home, the evolving health and dietary needs of consumers and the digitalisation of the foodservice sector.

The report also explores opportunities for British red meat such as capitalising on the public’s desire for more information on food provenance and sustainability.

Latest research shows that breakfast was most affected by lockdown – down 30.3 per cent – with fewer people grabbing food on-the-go. Dinner was the least impacted as it was less reliant on work and commuting.

Quick service restaurants were the only foodservice channel to see growth for the 52 weeks ending September 5, compared to 2019 levels – led by a rise in takeaways, with 89 per cent of quick service restaurant meals eaten at home.

Beef is in a strong position going forward as burgers remain one of the most popular dishes on menus. Another opportunity for beef is to encourage shoppers to trade up to steak, as these higher price cuts drive up the value and volume of beef.

If pork can continue to appeal through takeaways, this is likely to be an area of continued growth – especially by expanding into takeaway breakfasts and evening meals.

With lamb being more expensive, transitioning lamb into more world cuisines could invigorate the meat and increase menu space and demand. And if kebabs continue to appeal, as they did during lockdown, this could continue to be an area of growth.

Grace Randall, AHDB Retail Insight Manager and co-author of the report, said: “The food and drink market continues to face a period of unprecedented change, but it is not only the pandemic which is causing challenges to the sector. Recently, the economic recovery has lost momentum, but many consumers are returning to the eating out market, especially as cooking fatigue in home increases.

“It is important that levy payers and stakeholders have a clear understanding of the foodservice market and the challenges they face, as well as the opportunities that could help this valuable sector grow over the next few years.”

AHDB partners with Kantar for foodservice data and retail data, to provide a clearer and fuller picture of the market. AHDB’s volume estimates show how the closure of foodservice and extra demand on retail has affected overall volumes of red meat.

AHDB has also launched its foodservice dashboards, which are updated quarterly, to provide a dynamic overview of the latest foodservice market data.

In spring 2022, we’ll be asking all eligible levy payers to shape our work and priorities. Your views will help guide what we deliver over the next five years. Have your say on the vital support we offer your business and the industry. Registration opens December 2021.