Foodservice Update Q2 2023: What’s on the Menu? Focus on Labor

Despite rising inflation, spending in foodservice has increased on the back of high employment, rising disposable income, and the increasing demand for convenience and eating away from home. Foodservice providers, however, are flagging the scarcity of suitable personnel as a major hurdle to performance, in particular in northern Europe and North America. The reopening of the industry in 2022 generated a disparity between the need for personnel and immediate availability, but other factors also play a role. Technology can play a role in filling the staffing gaps.

Report summary

Filling vacancies remains an issue. For the foodservice industry in Europe and North America, hiring remains an issue. In some cases, the industry seems to need more workers than in the past. Permanent shifts to other industries, lower immigration and adverse demographics may be affecting staff availability in a structural way.

Lack of personnel has adverse consequences for foodservice operators. Inability to service clients directly results in lower revenues as it forces restaurants to reduce opening times or capacity. It can also have more structural downsides if the quality of the service deteriorates, alienating customers. Expansion plans may also be undermined by lack of adequate staff.

Attracting and retaining staff or doing the same with less? If attracting and retaining staff is going to remain an ongoing challenge, employers need to differentiate by offering better working conditions. Being able to deliver at the same level, but with fewer employees, reduces vulnerability but requires investments and/or operational changes.

Strategic decisions need to consider the short- and long-term outlook. Technology has improved drastically. Management software that enables optimal resource allocation, including workers’ shifts, menus, opening times, etc is more readily available. Automation, in particular in the kitchen, has improved as well. To implement these, access to funding and management capacity are key.