How operators can capitalise on social media food trends

6 December, 2023

Almost 85% of the UK population (over 57 million people) use social media. What we see online not only shapes the way in which we communicate and connect with others, but it also influences our preferences, decisions and behaviours – and it has now emerged as a powerful force in shaping food and drink trends.

Social platforms like Instagram, Facebook and TikTok, provide individuals with a window into the world of culinary delights and unique dining experiences, enabling them to explore global flavours without leaving their local communities. This has given rise to phenomena like food tourism, where people travel to sample unique dishes and flavours they've discovered online.

At Regency Purchasing Group, our procurement specialists and dedicated market insights team not only have their fingers on the pulse when it comes to supplier price movements, they also constantly monitor and report on online trends and innovations to help members stay one step ahead of their competitors.

Last month, Regency team members delivered an interactive development day showcasing ways in which social media food trends can be quickly and effectively introduced into food outlets to not only increase footfall via ‘food tourism’ but to also improve profit margins, spend per head, customer experience and repeat purchases.

The presentation and discussion, led by Martin Renwick, Jordan Jones and Kamila Walczak, focused on ways in which three traditional, staple and always-popular menu items can be elevated to new levels based on current social media trends.

The three dishes included:

  1. The staple sandwich: The nation’s favourite food-to-go – the humble sandwich – was transformed into a fully-loaded, gourmet taste and colour sensation, creating a picture-perfect Instagram opportunity.
  2. The traditional roast: The hearty roast dinner, somewhat of a British institution, was presented as an indulgent sharing platter, tapping into the ‘mate date’ phenomenon and increasing cash margin while using all the same ingredients, with creative presentation.
  3. Classic fish and chips: Often considered to be Britain’s national dish, this ever-popular menu item took on a playful twist and a fusion of flavours (from chilli and salt to gunpowder) with the additional of deep-fried pigs in blankets adding some fun to the feasting.

As well as highlighting the possibility of quickly adapting menus to capitalise on ever-changing consumer trends, the dishes presented were carefully costed to showcase the opportunity to significantly increase cash margins.

Across the three dishes, the total costs rose by an average of 52% but most importantly, cash margins increased by almost 80%, with the sandwich delivering an impressive 114% increase. What’s more, with 77% of consumers placing value for money and quality experiences* at the top of their wish-lists, the demand for innovative, quality-led menus coupled with unique experiences is vital.

*CGA and Bidfood 2024 Food and Drink Trends consumer survey

Throughout the session, these three menu items were dissected, discussed and debated, while Regency’s Development Chef, Andy Chan and his team, prepared an array of experimental dishes for the team to taste and discuss in more detail.

All ingredients used for the dishes were carefully selected for their quality, provenance and sustainability and were generously supplied by Harvey & Brockless, Walter Rose, Direct Seafoods, Arthur David and T&L Wholesale.

The presenting team then took the concepts to the next level by showcasing a whole range of inventive packaging solutions, including some specially-designed bespoke packaging, provided by Regency’s trusted packaging partner, Tri-Star.

This latest food development session equipped every Regency team member with enhanced knowledge and first-hand experience of bringing a social media food trends to life following a tried-and-tested and most importantly, a commercially viable method.

This and similar food development exercises and experimental sessions are repeated regularly throughout the year allowing the team to provide Regency members unrivalled levels of support with their menu development.

If you’d like to discuss your menus, food trends or explore new food and drink concepts, please get in touch.

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