Recently, I had the chance to speak with Nancy Jo Seaton of Seaton Food Consultants. We discussed various food trends for the coming year, and she mentioned something that I had been thinking. She noted that the Roaring Twenties came about at least partly because of our recovery from the Spanish Flu pandemic of 1918-1919. That pandemic shut down parts of the American economy and created strong conflict between people who wore masks and sheltered in place and those who refused to wear masks. Sound familiar? And when the pandemic had passed, America was ready to go out and party again.

Could we be seeing the onset of a new Roaring Twenties soon? It’s possible. The COVID-19 vaccine is rollout out, albeit slowly. While the Biden Administration may be able to use federal power to increase the vaccine roll-out, it will take months, if not a full year, before the people who want the vaccine can get it.

Still, but this summer, there will be a portion of the population that is vaccinated against the Coronavirus. Those people, who have probably spent more than a year of eating at home or eating at fast food, are going to be hungry… for the full foodservice experience. No more bags of burgers. No more meals delivered in a box. They will want a fully functional restaurant with a fancy meal that they won’t have to prepare or clean up afterwards. 

This pandemic has been brutal on the foodservice industry. Still, those restaurants that have survived will soon see a customer boom. I can easily see restaurants with full tables and long waiting lists, with a kitchen staff that is going to need some help.

This is where the processors come in. Your foodservice customers are going to need an increase in raw materials. They’re going to need products that can be prepared quickly. They’re going to need some advice on new ideas for their menu. Your R&D team may want to start thinking ahead now about what you can offer down the road. When the time comes, be ready with recipes, samples and suggestions. That kind of proactive response will help to make you an invaluable partner.

Sam Gazdziak