by Joe Angliss

This is why workplace eating habits have transformed in the last 10 years

This is why workplace eating habits have transformed in the last 10 years
It’s 2009. The UK economy is still recovering from the recent recession so consumers are looking for the best value for money. Italian restaurants are booming. Veganism is almost unheard of. You venture down to your workplace restaurant and a sigh is released at the boring and plain choice of food. At least you can use this time to be away from your work and your desk, right?

Fast forward to 2019 and it’s safe to say a lot has changed…

Millennials have taken over workplace restaurants

Chances are, millennials are a large part of your workforce. What does this mean? Well, millennials find it difficult to take a lunch break. They don’t feel empowered to do so and three quarters will even work and eat at the same time.[1]

We, as contract caterers, might not be able to change their work ethic but we can align to their eating habits. You have to have a decent grab & go range on your menu. Entice them down to your restaurant by at least offering the most looked for trends of world flavours and street food[2]. Street food by nature is grab & go so that’s a 2 for 1 for you!

This leads to my next point… world foods.

World food trend grows as the world becomes smaller

Consumers are broadening their horizons with travel. These consumers are discovering new cuisines when “discovering themselves” on their travels. They’re bringing their appetite for fresh flavours back home. Not only this, but the UK is becoming more multi-cultural every year, leading to more authentic recipes being available. World food as a result is dominating the high-street.

Off the back of this, street food has seen a significant rise. It’s perfect for the average modern worker as it combines both grab and go with the demand for exciting flavours. It’s a no-brainer to have on your menu!

Everything must be here and now with food at lunch

Technology and eating habits have completely transformed how we eat our food. Things like mobile payments/contactless, self-service, and multifunctional apps have made consumer experiences so much more seamless in the past 10 years. The need for this comes from the influence of the younger generation who demand high expectations and want everything now and specific to their need.

These high standards mean that businesses have to adapt their offering to meet the difficult demand. In recent years this has led to meal kits, supermarket delivery services, street food vendors, online ordering, next day delivery and the growth of heat-and-eat options in supermarkets. Consumers don’t want the same sad burger or sandwich that everyone else is eating. They want to custom-design the flavour and personalise their meal, but why should they not want this? They’re paying for the food; it should be exactly what they want!

The “Blue Planet” effect on menu options

If you haven’t heard anything about Blue Planet then you must be living under a rock. The harrowing scenes of the albatross parents unknowingly feeding their chicks plastic and the pilot whale mother grieving her dead calf killed by plastic poisoned milk was heart-breaking. After airing, it led to a big cultural shift. 88% of people who watched the programme have since changed their behaviour as a result of the documentary[3].
And what was this change? Customers want to be environmentally friendly but want to still have grab and go options; it is very important that you have a strong, sustainable food 2 go range . Not only does this meet your customer requirements but it is also great for your sustainability credentials.

It’s not just plastic that people are cutting! Consumers are becoming more environmentally conscious with everything they do, leading to vast changes in the food eaten over the last 10 years. I’m sure you can guess where I’m going with this…

There has been a surge in the amount of people becoming vegan or eating less meat/having more flexitarian diets. It’s not just a fad either, it’s here to stay whether you like it or not and you have to cater for it. Food manufacturers have invested huge amounts to develop vegan NPD to go into the market resulting in really high quality vegan alternatives now being available. All this investment means you can (and should!) have an excellent meat-alternative offer available.


In reality, this is just a very small snapshot of what has changed in the last 10 years. You have to innovate to keep up with constant eating habit shifts, particularly as there are now so many quality places already doing this on the high street. This is why our insights team work tirelessly to look into the latest food trends to support you. Get in touch if we can support you and make your workplace restaurant on-trend and free of “boring” food that will make millennials sigh.

[1] Quorn, 2019).

[2] Daytime Diets and Meal Planning Research, ABA, 2018

[3] Waitrose – Annual food and drink report, 2018

Back to Top