After the last two years of COVID-induced closures, the foodservice industry of 2022 looks much differently than it used to. In my Georgia neighborhood, we have seen many restaurants come and go over the last two years. Oddly enough, the restaurants that have seen the most harm have been fast-food restaurants. We’ve lost some of the chain restaurants in the area, but the local independent places are surviving or quickly have been replaced by other local restaurants. A few of them pivoted pretty quickly to delivery and pickup services, and some closed down for months at a time. The menus might not be as robust as they used to, but they’re still there.

Keep in mind, this is in Georgia, where mask mandates and social distancing have been things of the past for a year or so. Elsewhere in the country, restaurants are still having to deal with the realities of social distancing and periodic closures. Add to that a labor shortage in the foodservice industry that’s as bad as it is in the meat processing industry, and you have a bad situation for restaurants.

If your foodservice customers are still trying to make a go of it, now is the time to be the best partner that you can. If the restaurant is short-staffed, offering meats that can be easily prepared or heated will help ease an overworked kitchen. Providing different varieties of deli meats can help make the local sandwich place stand out from the competition. Packaging that helps to extend freshness also comes in handy as well, because diner traffic isn’t consistent anymore.

Talk with your foodservice customers or your distributors and get a good idea of what restaurants need right now. You can help them navigate these uncertain times until normalcy returns – hopefully as soon as this summer.

Sam Gazdziak