Summer Food and Beverage Trends We Can Expect in 2021

Summer 2021 trends

Even though restaurants are slowly starting to reopen to in-person dining, it’s clear that the trend toward increased food delivery versus in-person pickup isn’t going away. The Covid-19 pandemic forced many restaurants and grocers to reconfigure and seek innovative ways to keep their doors open as government mandates and fear of virus transmission kept people from going out to eat. 

Luckily, those in the food industry found many ways to remain open and keep customers happy in the meantime!

Now, as we move toward the summer of 2021, there are 5 food and beverage trends we can expect to see that may affect the shipping industry in one way or another.


Food Delivery Via Third Party

For grocers and restaurants alike, third-party food delivery has exploded in the last few years. Companies such as Ubereats, Instacart, and Doordash have found a niche in providing convenient and local delivery options for restaurants and grocery stores that didn’t previously deliver.

While third-party delivery certainly has provided a means to reach a much wider customer base, this trend brings with it some interesting considerations. To name a few: the issue of profits from food that must now be shared with the delivery service and the inability to extract as much customer data during the purchasing process. 

These considerations need to be taken into account as we move further into a post-covid world as this signals a change in the way that smaller, mostly local stores are looking at local shipments. There is some reason to believe that this doesn't only apply to outgoing orders, in some instances, this may become the preferred method of delivery of smaller shipments *to* local restaurants that cannot afford the cost of traditional shipping such as LTL.


Delivery via Restaurant Fleet

While there is a shift (in the majority) to allow third-party services to handle local deliveries, not everyone feels comfortable with this. In fact, some restaurants and retailers are opting to move or keep this process in-house. This is being done in order to combat some of the issues of cost and customer data access inherent in a third-party system

This can be a challenging prospect involving difficult logistical considerations. However, the development of delivery management technology can help with efficiently managing orders as they come in.

Many restaurants are seeing great value in maintaining control of the ordering and delivery process and outsourcing as little as possible to third-party companies. While this should not directly affect inbound logistics for most. it is a good tell-tale sign of the direction that the food and beverage see as viable. This viability, if scaled to an extreme, could certainly bleed over into more inbound logistics at some point.


Larger Technology Companies Entering into Food Delivery

Huge companies like Google have recently ventured into the food delivery arena. These companies have spotted the trends in increased desire for delivery and have capitalized on the market using their considerable resources.

For example, Google now enables users to order delivery directly through “google search” and “google maps” features.

These trends are expected to grow even further as the demand for delivery continues to soar.


Internet-based Grocery Delivery Services

The trend toward online grocery ordering was already increasing in the last few years. Add in the Covid-19 pandemic, and this trend reached remarkable heights, forcing grocery stores to adapt. Customers love the convenience offered through online ordering as it saves them the time they would ordinarily have to spend traveling and shopping in-store.

Smaller retail grocery stores and those that don’t have much of an online presence may have difficulty competing with giant online competitors in the food and beverage niche, however, a few options are available to these individuals:


  • Using stores based in neighborhoods as fulfillment centers.
  • Utilizing software that enables “curbside” and “pick up in-store” options.
  • Employing “dark stores” as fulfillment centers.


Grocery Subscription Services

A trend that has been perpetuated by the millennial generation and social media influencers is that of food subscription services. Many individuals are finding an increased interest in cooking, but aren’t overly enthused by the thought of having to go to the grocery store to buy the ingredients, measure the ingredients, and then cook the meal. 

Instead, in this busy day and age, users prefer to have pre-portioned, ready-to-cook and ready-to-eat meals delivered right to their door. This decreases some of the anxiety around cooking that novice chefs feel by providing an essentially fool-proof method of cooking.

Not to mention, these subscription boxes often offer unique ingredients and spices that might be difficult to find in local grocery stores.

The trend for many in this era is: “convenience over all else.”


Bottom Line

Despite the fact that we are finally seeing a light at the end of the Covid-19 tunnel, we can still expect to see many of the trends that developed during 2020 continue into the summer of 2021 and well beyond.

Grocers and restaurants that had already started implementing means of delivery are likely well ahead of the rest of the field, as they now just need to modify and fine-tune their operations. Those in the food and beverage industry who have not yet instituted delivery options need to quickly decide how they want to proceed in order to remain competitive in the years to come.