The food and beverage industry has always had a prominent presence. Every living being needs to eat, and our consumption as a species has the most impact worldwide. Even as one of the world’s most integral industries, the food and beverage industry is one that has been through its fair share transitory eras. Over the years, the one steady shift has been the rise of experience-driven decisions – including our food. Food has always been an experience of sorts. Simply getting the groceries is an experience, for example. The shift, however, has come in the form of the importance that is increasingly being placed on the experiences that are associated with food. Rather than collecting material things, today’s society is now hyper-focused on collecting experiences. The food and beverages industry has not only noticed this gravitational shift, but it has been one of the pioneering industries in helping the focus to grow. From finally getting to eat at that fine dining restaurant you have been waiting to try, to travelling abroad and trying the street food, eating is all about the experience these days.
Evolution is a natural progression of all ongoing concepts, events, lives, and industries. The food and beverage business, for example, has always been driven to deliver food to consumers. The key shift in the industry lies in the importance being placed on providing more than just the food to consumers, but the experience as well. Consumers used to be driven by material wealth, but these days the modern consumer wants an experience they can enjoy. Food has historically been considered an experience on holidays, special occasions, and with family and friends. But the industry has noted that consumers want every meal to be an experience, and they have taken the hint and begun to produce a culinary experience that diners relish in.
Fine dining restaurants pride themselves on delivering food of the best quality in luxury surrounds. Cafes these days serve vegan and gluten-free food to cater to people with dietary requirements. Everywhere you look, food is now being treated as an experience – and that is how it should be. Not a single industry can survive without the support and supply of its consumers, and the food and beverage business is no different – from growing and purchasing the food, to using the ingredients to forge meals that will remembered long after diners’ stomachs are full.
From the way that consumers grocery shop to the way that food and beverage-focused businesses source their ingredients, the food industry is undeniably experiencing a resurgence in experience-focused business methods and models. One shining example of this is the recent ban of single use plastic bags in grocery stores throughout Australia. While grocery shopping is merely the collection of our food, consumers have made the conscious decision more and more often lately to call for the plastic bags that groceries have historically been packed into, to be banned. Single use plastic is harmful for animals that may choke on it, and the environment as well. Consumers began to make the conscious decision to shop at supermarkets that did not offer the single use plastics, and the supermarkets noticed and soon a ban had been carried out – and is still under effect – that saw consumers having to bring their own reusable grocery bags to stock their groceries into.
Just a single example of how the food and beverage industry has shifted to provide consumers with the types of experiences they want to have, the plastic bag grocery store ban is a mere taste of the importance of catering the experience with food to the consumers’ specifications. Failure to do so poses significant risk in this day and age. As consumers place more focus on what they eat, where their food comes from, and how their food gets to them, the food and beverages industry move towards a more adaptive consumer experience is one that has effectively given them a leg up. The interest in food has increased tenfold over the years, with a specific spike over the last few years in relation to consumers beginning to realise that their key focus should be not on the material things, but the experiences that carry them from one point in their life on to the next.
The food and beverages industry is one that has been through many great evolutions in its time. As the societal pull from material collections to experiences continued to take hold, industries around the world not only took notice, but took heed of the shift in consumer focus. Today, the food and beverages industry has a centralised focus on creating a seamless, extraordinary experience for its consumers. Each section of the industry does this in their own way, but the goal is always the same: to use food to sharpen fond memories into incredible moments. The food and beverages business is knee deep in its greatest evolution thus far, and it is interesting to note that its current era is derived from the core of what food is supposed to be about: the experience.