In partnership with Nestlé Professional

Nestlé Professional’s Paul Lumley on today's on demand culture

By Paul Lumley

- Last updated on GMT

Nestlé Professional’s Paul Lumley on today's on demand culture

Related tags: Technology, Restaurant

Not so long ago, lunches were long, mealtimes took place around a table and queuing for dinner was commonplace. Fast forward a decade and it’s a very different picture. In this article, Nestlé Professional brand & communications manager, Paul Lumley, talks about how technology can help restaurants tap into today’s 24/7 food culture.

What prompted you to commission this research?

The starting point for the research was trying to find the link between mobility and food and drink. How have people’s relationships with food and drink changed as we’ve become more time poor? How has technology changed the way we consume food and drink? We wanted to find out how many people were eating on the go and what technologies and brands are enabling the shift.

What are the headline stats from your research?

60% of us are eating a meal on the go every day. By that we mean not in a traditional seated out of home environment, or indeed at home. 70% of those respondents are spending 10 minutes or less on breakfast. And 95% are spending less than 30 minutes on lunch. An overwhelming majority are now so concerned about doing things on the go that they’re changing their eating habits. This is to some extent eroding the traditional sit down meal and we’ve seen some commentary around that. Restaurants should be embracing technology as an enabler but to some extent they also need to promote the benefits of consuming a meal in company and eating out being a conscious occasion.

And what about the use of technology?

42% of respondents said they do use technology when eating or drinking out of home. This could be using a delivery or takeaway app, paying with payment apps or looking for and rating restaurants on sites such as TripAdvisor. 

25% of people aged between 18 and 44 use smart ordering, and that increases to over a third for Gen Y (18-24 year olds). It’s what you want when you want it. Technology is allowing people to customise food and have it delivered wherever and whenever they want.

What would you say to independents that are daunted by technology? How can they get involved?

They need to understand how technology is enabling change when it comes to eating out. I’d suggest leveraging relationships you have within the industry to make sense of what’s out there. It’s also worth bearing in mind that customer experiences are individual to each operator. There’s no one size fits all solution. Understand your customer and use partners within your network.

For example, most restaurants will have a relationship with some sort of online bookings provider. These partners can help advise on the technology in that space. Even food manufacturers such as Nestlé Professional can help. We’re not busy running restaurants so we can take a step back and look at the market. We know about the innovations that can help drive business forward.

What restaurants are impressing you when it comes to forward-thinking use of restaurant technology?

The brand that stands out at the moment is McDonald’s. The company is embracing technology to revolutionise its operations. Most of its sites are now primarily self-service and offer full customisation of meals. And cleverest of all, it’s all been integrated with back of house systems to drive operational efficiency and provide food that’s freshly made to order. 

Another great brand in the market is MEATliquor, which has embraced delivery and built it into the business. The team there is among the first to explore delivery-only kitchens. They’ve changed their business model to ensure it’s relevant for today’s customer.

The focus on restaurant technology is on delivery and payments - what’s next?

It’s about looking at pain points. I’d like to see more innovation around the operational environment. We’re already starting to see that with McDonald’s. Nando’s has also started to change the way it serves food. And there are new players such as MOD Pizza that are also shaking things up. We’re approaching a tipping point that will see tech drive restaurant operations. It could even lead to more robotics. YO! Sushi is already part way there with its conveyor belts.

How can Nestlé Professional help?

We’re constantly reviewing our innovation and technology to ensure we’re keeping up with operator needs. We want to reduce operational complexity and deliver good quality end products through technological innovation. We do that by understanding consumer trends in the context of the wider food world. With a view across global markets we are actively and continuously helping our customers to understand their consumers. We supply food, but we also offer help and advice.

To download a copy of Nestlé Professional’s latest report Hyper-Convenience: Breaking boundaries to meet the needs of the 24/7 consumer, click here. 

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