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Food Retail Technology in a Post-Covid World

Industry survey:

How COVID-19 is transforming Food Services & Food Retail


Few industries have been hit as hard by the pandemic as Food Services & Food Retail. Businesses, however, are adapting quickly, embracing new business models powered by transformative technologies. Five months into the pandemic, we surveyed 150 technology decision makers and found an industry changing in real-time. Here’s some of what we learned...

4.5 out of 5: Average rating of business impact from changes in customer shopping behaviour.

Shifts in consumer behavior are a huge challenge

COVID-19 has changed the way customers shop and eat, with health and safety concerns increasing demand for online shopping, pick-up and delivery options, and convenience. This has had a major impact on food providers. More than half have seen revenues fall by 10-30% while they attempt to catch up to consumer needs. And most expect to be managing these challenges for at least the next 12+ months.

#interactive #dropdown { width: calc(80vw - 59vw * 0.7); max-width: 520px; margin-left: 5vw; margin-right: 5vw; margin-top:8px; z-index: 999; } #interactive.touchdevice #dropdown { width: auto; margin-bottom: 30px; } #interactive #barchart { height: 93px; } #interactive.touchdevice #barchart { margin-left: 5vw; transform-origin: top left; transform: scale(2); height: 193px } #interactive #barchart .chartnumber { position: absolute; top: -1px; right: 5px; color: #fff; font-family: 'DINOT',Arial,Helvetica,Sans-serif; font-size: 30px; line-height: 30px; margin-left: 7px; width: 50vw; text-align: right; } #interactive.touchdevice #barchart .chartnumber { font-size: 15px; } #darkbluenumber span { font-size: 10px; color: #333; } #interactive .custom-select { float: left; position: relative; font-family: 'DINOT',Arial,Helvetica,Sans-serif; font-size: 1rem; } #interactive.touchdevice .custom-select { float: none; } #interactive select { display: none; /*hide original SELECT element: */ } .select-selected { background-color: #fff; } /* Style the arrow inside the select element: */ .select-selected:after { position: absolute; content: ""; top: 7px; right: 20px; width: 30px; height: 30px; border: 1px solid transparent; border-color: #00aeef #00aeef transparent transparent; transform: rotate(135deg); } /* Point the arrow upwards when the select box is open (active): */ { transform: rotate(-45deg); top: 28px; } /* style the items (options), including the selected item: */ .select-items div,.select-selected { color: #000; padding: 20px 60px 24px 16px; border: 1px solid transparent; border-color: transparent #dadbdc #dadbdc #dadbdc; cursor: pointer; } .select-selected { border-color: #dadbdc; border-bottom-color: #00aeef; } /* Style items (options): */ .select-items { position: absolute; background-color: #fff; top: 100%; left: 0; right: 0; z-index: 99; } /* Hide the items when the select box is closed: */ .select-hide { display: none; } .select-items div:hover, .same-as-selected { background-color: #f0f0f0; }   Top strategic priorities for tech adoption Using the pull-down menu, see why decision makers are turning to transformative technologies — and how their priorities have changed over the past year. Integrate physical, digital and mobile shopping experiencesAddress changing customer expectations around personal health and safetyIncrease process automation to drive quality and efficiencyTransform the in-store shopping or restaurant experienceDrive consumer loyalty through customer identification and personalization   21% 59%     January 2020   August 2020     if ((is_touch_device())) { document.getElementById("interactive").classList.add("touchdevice"); } var x, i, j, l, ll, selElmnt, a, b, c, sel; sel=1; /*look for any elements with the class "custom-select":*/ x = document.getElementsByClassName("custom-select"); l = x.length; for (i = 0; i < l; i++) { selElmnt = x[i].getElementsByTagName("select")[0]; ll = selElmnt.length; /*for each element, create a new DIV that will act as the selected item:*/ a = document.createElement("DIV"); a.setAttribute("class", "select-selected"); a.innerHTML = selElmnt.options[selElmnt.selectedIndex].innerHTML; x[i].appendChild(a); /*for each element, create a new DIV that will contain the option list:*/ b = document.createElement("DIV"); b.setAttribute("class", "select-items select-hide"); for (j = 0; j < ll; j++) { /*for each option in the original select element, create a new DIV that will act as an option item:*/ c = document.createElement("DIV"); if (j == 0) { c.setAttribute("class", "same-as-selected"); } c.innerHTML = selElmnt.options[j].innerHTML; c.addEventListener("click", function(e) { /*when an item is clicked, update the original select box, and the selected item:*/ var y, i, k, s, h, sl, yl, t; s = this.parentNode.parentNode.getElementsByTagName("select")[0]; sl = s.length; h = this.parentNode.previousSibling; for (i = 0; i < sl; i++) { if (s.options[i].innerHTML == this.innerHTML) { s.selectedIndex = i; h.innerHTML = this.innerHTML; y = this.parentNode.getElementsByClassName("same-as-selected"); yl = y.length; for (k = 0; k < yl; k++) { y[k].removeAttribute("class"); } this.setAttribute("class", "same-as-selected"); sel = s.selectedIndex + 1; updateChart(sel); document.getElementById("first-select").classList.remove("hide-first"); break; } }; }); b.appendChild(c); } x[i].appendChild(b); a.addEventListener("click", function(e) { /*when the select box is clicked, close any other select boxes, and open/close the current select box:*/ e.stopPropagation(); closeAllSelect(this); this.nextSibling.classList.toggle("select-hide"); this.classList.toggle("select-arrow-active"); }); } /* refresh chart */ updateChart(sel); window.addEventListener('resize', function(){ updateChart(sel); }, true); function closeAllSelect(elmnt) { /*a function that will close all select boxes in the document, except the current select box:*/ var x, y, i, xl, yl, arrNo = []; x = document.getElementsByClassName("select-items"); y = document.getElementsByClassName("select-selected"); xl = x.length; yl = y.length; for (i = 0; i < yl; i++) { if (elmnt == y[i]) { arrNo.push(i); } else { y[i].classList.remove("select-arrow-active"); } } for (i = 0; i < xl; i++) { if (arrNo.indexOf(i)) { x[i].classList.add("select-hide"); } } } /*if the user clicks anywhere outside the select box, then close all select boxes:*/ document.addEventListener("click", closeAllSelect); var select = document.querySelector('#priority'), input = document.querySelector('input[type="button"]'); select.addEventListener('change',function(){ sel = select.value; updateChart(sel); }); input.addEventListener('click',function(){ select.value = 2; select.dispatchEvent(new Event('change')); }); function updateChart(selected) { var res1, res2, ww; ww = Math.min(window.innerWidth, 1260); document.getElementById("darkbluenumber").style.color = "#fff"; document.getElementById("darkbluenumber").style.right = "5px"; document.getElementById("darkbluenumber").style.left = "auto"; document.getElementById("darkbluenumber").style.textAlign = "right"; switch(parseInt(selected)-1) { case 0: res1 = 21; res2 = 59; break; case 1: res1 = 0; res2 = 54; document.getElementById("darkbluenumber").style.color = "#0049ab"; document.getElementById("darkbluenumber").style.right = "auto"; document.getElementById("darkbluenumber").style.left = "0"; document.getElementById("darkbluenumber").style.textAlign = "left"; break; case 2: res1 = 27; res2 = 31; break; case 3: res1 = 33; res2 = 25; break; case 4: res1 = 45; res2 = 17; break; } document.getElementById("darkbluebar").style.width = res1 * ww * 0.007 + "px"; document.getElementById("lightbluebar").style.width = res2 * ww * 0.007 + "px"; if (res1 == 0) { document.getElementById("darkbluenumber").innerHTML = "N/A New choice added to the 8/20 survey."; } else { document.getElementById("darkbluenumber").innerHTML = res1 + "%"; } document.getElementById("lightbluenumber").innerHTML = res2 + "%"; } function is_touch_device() { try { document.createEvent("TouchEvent"); return true; } catch (e) { return false; } }
84% are likely to invest in in-house, last-mile delivery.

Change will spur business model innovation

How will food providers respond to shifting consumer behaviors? Over the next 24 months, they’ll be experimenting with their business models – for example, deconstructing the general-purpose store into single-purpose facilities, such as self-service and drive-thru only stores, dedicated fulfillment centers, and ghost kitchens. In addition, they’ll be looking at managing home deliveries themselves to recoup profits.

71%: Rated digital transformation as very important to business agility.

Businesses must be agile to adapt successfully

To pivot to new or augmented business models, agility is a must. In fact, 100% of survey respondents agreed it’s the key factor driving business success since the pandemic began. Agility depends on a number of factors, including rapid decision and learning cycles. But the most important enabler is digital transformation – rethinking every aspect of your business through the lens of what digital technology allows.

2X as many food providers see themselves as tech-forward now

Urgency to adopt transformative technologies is increasing

Food providers know that investing in new technologies can give them a strategic advantage, especially during the pandemic. Right now, their top strategic priority is integrating physical, digital and mobile shopping experiences to provide consumers with a safe and convenient way to enjoy their food. Not surprisingly, priorities – and tech adoption plans – have shifted dramatically since COVID-19 began.

78% report increased consumer demand for contactless technologies.

Contactless solutions are gaining momentum

Asked to name the most innovative thing their organization had done during the pandemic, many survey respondents pointed to adoption of contactless technologies. 68% had already adopted food lockers for customer pick-up on a limited basis. And many others were experimenting with technologies such as facial recognition kiosks and vehicle/license plate recognition for the drive-thru.

Quote: "This pandemic has really shown that businesses need to have agility to survive and win. Without agility there will be a lot of resistance to change, leading to a wider scope of failures." VP of Marketing, Grocery

Get more key insights from our survey

Ready to dig further into the state of the industry and the growing role of transformative technologies? See all the results from our research by downloading our full report.


Discover key findings from our report, distilled into handy infographics for both quick-service restaurant (QSR) and grocery segments.
1 in 7 QSRs see themselves as tech-forward early adopters
1 in 3 grocers see themselves as tech-forward, early adopters


In two recent episodes of our podcast, The Big REthink, we discuss how technology is helping food service providers and food retailers adapt to a post-Covid reality.

Che Baird on how food services is transforming

Order Up: How Digital Tools Are Reshaping the Takeout Experience

Online ordering, mobile apps and other technologies have made dining faster and more convenient than ever for restaurant customers. And with that convenience comes increased demand – especially amid ongoing safety protocols and social-distancing guidelines. Michael Lavigne, president and CEO of CLEARVIEW, and Che Baird, customer relationship manager at Panasonic Canada, join host Susan Campbell to discuss how tech is helping restaurants keep up, how it’s creating a more personalized experience for customers and what its role is in predicting demand.

Matt Judkins on how food retail is transforming

Adapting in Aisle 5: How Grocers Are Responding to Customers’ Changing Needs

Grocery store customers want – and need – safe, quick and convenient ways to shop for food. Matt Judkins, director of corporate marketing communication for Hussmann Corporation, joins host Susan Campbell to share his take on the technologies that are helping grocers provide just such an experience, from online ordering to contactless pickup. Plus, they discuss sustainability initiatives in grocery stores and supply chains, and what the future of food retail might look like.

Learn more about our technology solutions for Food Services & Food Retail

We’re making food service faster and more personal with point-of-sale-devices, self-ordering kiosks and drive-thru communication systems all connected to the back of the restaurant – so customers can really have it their way.
Our Hussmann division proudly serves the food retail industry with expertise in merchandising, energy efficiency and sustainability, food quality and integrity, refrigeration, design and engineering, service and installation, and retail performance.

HBR food industry pulse research

Back in January 2020, before the coronavirus outbreak, we conducted a Food Services & Food Retail study in partnership with Harvard Business Review. It's a fascinating snapshot of industry priorities and attitudes about transformative technologies at a time before unforeseen events would create a new urgency to evolve.

Food retail report - Cover art

Food Services & Food Retail eBook

Where is the industry headed? Who's making the best use of today's technology? How are Panasonic and Hussmann moving business forward? Get the answers in our five-minute eBook.