JLL has scoured the globe for the weirdest, most wonderful and prophetic innovations of foodservice and shortlisted five mega trends that landlords and restaurateurs should watch in 2018 in its recently released Global Food Trends report. According to the report, launched today at ICSC’s Food for Thought conference, the amount Americans spend on eating out has overtaken grocery purchases. In Europe, roughly 27 percent of total consumer spend is literally being eaten up through food purchases.

“There is a tangible benefit of creating a compelling food offering within a shopping center, but the challenge is that there is no one-size fits all solution. Retail owners must know their customer, catchment and competition to be able to customize food service accordingly and reap the rewards,” said Naveen Jaggi, President of Retail Advisory Services for JLL. “Landlords can capture 12 percent more sales revenue and 35 extra minutes of time in the mall from those who stop and eat versus those who do not – that’s a pretty big chunk of time and money when you compound it over thousands of shoppers.”

JLL’s report shows that the five trends in food service expectations and behavior will shape both the retail and food and beverage industries of tomorrow, and raise questions for landlords and operators alike:

1. Experience Economy: the aspiration of experience over ownership

Today, consumers are migrating from collecting things and stuff, to collecting surprising, unusual experiences. U.S. spending dedicated to experiences has increased 70 percent as compared to 30 years ago, and today nearly 80 percent of millennials would choose to spend money on an experience or event over buying an object.[1]  JLL expects eating to collide with art, gaming, technology or theater with an increased use of virtual and augmented reality. And, with a growing middle class expected to reach 4.9 billion by 2030, consumers will increasingly look to experience something that others can’t.   

2. Supply Unchained: collapsing barriers between consumers and production

From 2007 to 2017, the number of U.S. farmers markets grew by 100 percent, reaching 9,000 markets. The rise of consuming locally has been fueled by consumers’ demands for authenticity and curiosity. These concerns extend from sustainable consumption to supporting small business, and are driven by a sense of pride, eco-preservation or convenience. We expected that traditional retail boundaries will continue to blur as suppliers sell directly to the public, and restaurants grow their own in-house ingredients.

3. Better Business: where purpose and profit come together

Consumers are increasingly aware of the negative impacts that consumption has on the planet, society and ourselves. Around one-third of food produced for human consumption is wasted, resulting in more than one billion metric tons of food waste globally. As a result, governments, businesses and customers alike have started to push for a change in how we use our resources. Consumers are connected to brands with social or environmental value – those that benefit people, planet and society with more than two-thirds of people wanting brands to help them make a difference in the world[2].

4. Youniverse: the desire to be seen and served as unique

With the rise of social media, what consumers do and eat has become one of the greatest forms of self-expression. It used to be all about fashion, but today, you characterize yourself by what you eat. ‘Gourmet’, ‘Michelin’, ‘Street Food’, ‘Vegan’ are not just buzz words, they help define a lifestyle. Going forward, expect design and marketing initiatives to encourage social media engagement as chefs serve up head-line dishes.

5. Conveni-Tech: the demand for convenient and superior service

Innovation does not happen in isolation. Throughout history inventors have responded to pain points and un-met demands to make our lives more convenient. Once an innovation has occurred, expectations shift. The food industry is no different. Meal delivery has grown 25 percent in the last three years and is expected to grow 14 percent by 2020. Now consumers expect quick, quality food at the tip of their fingers. Leading operators like Deliveroo will see lunchtime orders rise by 163 percent in the U.K. this year.  

“We expect these consumer-centric food trends to become even more mainstream as operators seek to incorporate them into their offerings,” added Lew Kornberg, Executive Vice President of Retail Advisory Services for JLL. “In the coming years expect big data, which is currently underdeveloped in the food and beverage industry compared to traditional retailing, to become a critical part of operators investments.”