Jones Long LaSalle (JLL), Chicago, scoured the globe for the weirdest, most prophetic innovations of foodservice and shortlisted five mega trends that landlords and restaurateurs should watch in 2018.

According to its Global Food Trends report, the amount Americans spend on eating out has overtaken grocery purchases. In Europe, roughly 27% of total consumer spend is literally being eaten up through food purchases.

“There is a tangible benefit of creating a compelling food offering within a shopping center, but the challenge is that there is no one-size-fits-all solution. Retail owners must know their customer, catchment and competition to be able to customize foodservice accordingly and reap the rewards,” says Naveen Jaggi, president of retail advisory services for JLL. “Landlords can capture 12% more sales revenue and 35 extra minutes of time in the mall from those who stop and eat vs. those who do not – that’s a pretty big chunk of time and money when you compound it over thousands of shoppers.”

JLL’s report shows that the five trends in foodservice expectations and behavior will shape both the retail and food and beverage industries of tomorrow.

1. Experience economy—the aspiration of experience over ownership.

Today, consumers are migrating from collecting things and stuff to collecting surprising, unusual experiences. U.S. spending dedicated to experiences has increased 70% as compared to 30 years ago, and today, nearly 80% of Millennials would choose to spend money on an experience or event over buying an object, according to research provided by Harris Inc., Paris. JLL expects eating to collide with art, gaming, technology or theater, with an increased use of virtual and augmented reality. And, with a growing middle class expected to reach 4.9 billion by 2030, consumers will increasingly look to experience something that others can’t.   

2. Supply unchained—collapsing barriers between consumers and production.

From 2007-2017, the number of U.S. farmers markets grew by 100%, reaching 9,000 markets. The rise of consuming locally has been fueled by consumers’ demands for authenticity and curiosity. These concerns extend from sustainable consumption to supporting small business, and are driven by a sense of pride, eco-preservation or convenience. We expected that traditional retail boundaries will continue to blur, as suppliers sell directly to the public and restaurants grow their own in-house ingredients.

3. Better business—where purpose and profit come together.

Consumers are increasingly aware of the negative impacts that consumption has on the planet, society and ourselves. Around one-third of food produced for human consumption is wasted, resulting in more than 1 billion metric tons of food waste globally. As a result, governments, businesses and customers alike have started to push for a change in how we use our resources. Consumers are connected to brands with social or environmental value – those that benefit people, planet and society with more than two-thirds of people wanting brands to help them make a difference in the world, according to the Global Trends Survey released by Ipsos, UK.

4. Youniverse—the desire to be seen and served as unique.

With the rise of social media, what consumers do and eat has become one of the greatest forms of self-expression. It used to be all about fashion, but today, consumers characterize themselves by what they eat. “Gourmet,” “Michelin,” “street food” and “vegan” are not just buzzwords; they help define a lifestyle. Going forward, expect design and marketing initiatives to encourage social media engagement, as chefs serve up head-line dishes.

5. Conveni-tech—the demand for convenient and superior service.

Innovation does not happen in isolation. Throughout history, inventors have responded to pain points and un-met demands to make our lives more convenient. Once an innovation has occurred, expectations shift. The food industry is no different. Meal delivery has grown 25% in the last three years, and is expected to grow 14% by 2020. Now consumers expect quick, quality food at the tip of their fingers.

“We expect these consumer-centric food trends to become even more mainstream, as operators seek to incorporate them into their offerings,” adds Lew Kornberg, executive vice president of retail advisory services for JLL. “In the coming years, expect big data, which is currently underdeveloped in the food and beverage industry compared to traditional retailing, to become a critical part of operators’ investments.”