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As we head into summer 2019, big changes are underway in the bar and restaurant biz. From the impacts of minimum wage increases to potential price hikes on imported food and beverages, we’ve gathered the latest foodservice news you need to know now…

1. 3 highlights from the National Restaurant Association’s 2019 State of the Industry Report

Let’s start with a bit of foodservice news from the National Restaurant Association. They just released their yearly report and outlook for 2019, including industry insights like:

  • Positive sales forecasts: Things are looking good in foodservice news. It’s predicted that the restaurant industry will hit a record high of $863 billion in sales, which marks the 10th consecutive year of positive sales growth.
  • Intense focus on customer-facing tech: Technology has become more ingrained in restaurant operations – a popular topic in foodservice news over the last few years. And according to the report, owners will continue incorporating technology in their restaurants, with a focus on customer-facing technology that enhances customer service, like handheld tablets.
  • A more sustainable menu: Sustainability has been a big buzzword in foodservice news, popping up in several menu trends over the last few years. And as restauranteurs become more conscious of their environmental impact, we should see the trend continue with a focus on “zero-waste cooking, hyper-local sourcing, veggie-forward cuisine, and natural ingredients.”

2. Oracle study finds that restaurant owners know that mobile tech provides key benefits, but 62% are unsure where to start…

From on-the-go ordering to handheld restaurant tablets options, the future is now in foodservice news. But 62% of restaurant owners feel nervous about their ability to keep up with mobile tech trends…

Oracle surveyed 279 leaders in the food and beverage industry, focusing on those who used mobile technology during the summer of 2018. And the results showed emerging trends in foodservice news, where mobile tech can help restaurants increase ticket values, table-turn, and their ability to cross and upsell menu items.

Other findings included:

  • An overwhelming majority of restaurant operators (95%) believe that mobile technology improves the guest experience and customer loyalty.
  • Mobile technology provides more options for customers to personalize their dining experience.
  • Back-end mobile technology can help restaurant operators save serious cash with the ability to track inventory, manage shift times, and easily update menus.

3. Brace yourselves. We may see a price-hike on European imports, like wine, cheese, and olive oil.

The Trump administration recently announced a proposed tariff for products imported from Europe, as a defensive move against European Union subsidies.

As far as politics and foodservice news goes, this is a rather unsavory pairing. The 14-page preliminary list of items that could be subject to hefty tariffs includes wine, cheese, olive oil, oysters, and other assortments of favorite menu items.

The proposal is the latest installment of a nearly 15-year-long struggle between the U.S. and Europe regarding subsidies and still requires review by the World Trade Organization before it’s approved. So, we may not see any change. But it’s definitely foodservice news you need to keep an eye on.

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4. A restaurant industry study shows that minimum wage increases can positively affect productivity for up to two years.

There’s been some back and forth on the minimum wage increase in foodservice news, seeing how food and bev will be one of the industries most impacted by the change. But now, a recent study featured in Science Direct shows that higher wages could mean better productivity for restaurants.

The study focused on the relationship between minimum wage increase and productivity in restaurants, with researchers predicting that the impact would be positive. The results confirmed the theory, showing that restaurants could handle the minimum wage increase if they implemented productivity initiatives for their staff.

The researchers suggest that restaurants should raise their wages every two years or so, to continually reap the benefits of “enhanced motivation and productivity.” Expect to see more foodservice news related to research on the topic of minimum wage in the months ahead.

5. Calling all angels: How to earn the halo effect with locally sourced food.

Locally sourced food still topping the headlines in foodservice news right now, and experts predict that the trend isn’t going anywhere.

According to a recent survey in foodservice news, restaurants acquired a “halo effect” by marketing themselves as establishments that use locally sourced food. In foodservice news terms, this means that people associated several additional positive attributes to companies that use locally sourced food.

Consumers saw them as “more environmentally friendly,” and considered the menu healthier and more nutritious. They also perceived the restaurant to be more conveniently located and use more natural and organic ingredients. To capitalize on this piece of foodservice news, consider ordering local ingredients from these 11 best sources.

6. Going green? Technomic covers how legal marijuana impacts restaurants.

Cannabis has become a more prevalent topic in foodservice news, since being legalized in 10 states so far. And while industry pros are studying the economic impact of cannabis, they’re already noticing a ripple effect for restaurants in those regions.

Technomic recently published an article outlining 5 impacts of marijuana on the restaurant industry, and there’s more than just munchies to cover in foodservice news. They tackle the tough questions: do cannabis users prefer to dine in or order out? How will cannabis use affect alcohol consumption? What are the rules and trends for incorporating CBD and hemp into your menu?

The full Technomic research report covers all the details from their survey and how the recent legalization could affect your restaurant (if you happen to do business in those regions).

7. PepsiCo embraces consumer trends with new, mobile-enabled hydration platform.

Speaking of mobile technology in foodservice news, PepsiCo is taking its sustainability efforts even further into the future with a mobile-enabled hydration platform designed to fit the drinking habits of today’s consumers.

Their new tabletop-based pouring service consists of three parts: A hydration dispenser, a compatible smart-phone app, and a QR code sticker for reusable bottles that allows the system to track users and their drinking preferences. The smartphone app allows consumers to set water consumption goals and track their water intake with every refill, as well as the positive impact they are having on the environment, outlining the number of plastic bottles saved with every pour.

According to their foodservice news announcement, the new product will roll out in offices, universities, and hospitality partners. PepsiCo launched the product as part of their “Beyond the Bottle” campaign, in an effort to ramp up sustainability efforts. But in addition to saving the planet, the hydration platform of the future capitalizes on other trends that offer a personalized, health-focused experience for the consumer.