Majority say ‘eating out’ was most missed activity due to persistent Covid-19 pandemic

Three quarters (73 per cent ) of Irish adults have missed dining in restaurants, pubs, and cafes as a result of Covid-19, according to Bord Bia’s 2021 Irish Foodservice Market Insights Report.

This makes eating out the most missed social activity during the pandemic, compared to shopping for leisure (59 per cent ), concerts, sports and live events (57 per cent ), and spending time with colleagues (45 per cent ).

The report also revealed that there remains a degree of caution around eating out, especially among older demographics, and that full recovery in the sector is not expected until 2023 at the earliest. Despite a widespread view that there are adequate Covid-19 safety measures in place, for six in 10 diners (61 per cent ), there is some degree of nervousness about eating out.

According to the report, the value of the Irish food service (or out of home ) industry for 2021 is estimated to reach €5.15 billion. This represents moderate year-on-year growth of 14.6 per cent, but remains 41 per cent off pre-pandemic turnover levels.

“It is encouraging to see growth in 2021, but we still have a way to go to returning to pre-pandemic levels given that the Irish food service market was severely impacted last year.

“Certain segments of the market such as limited-service restaurants and coffee shops have been less impacted and will recover quicker in 2022.

“However, others such as restaurants, hotels, pubs, and workplace catering will continue to be impacted not only by Covid-19 public health restrictions, but also by other broader sector challenges. These barriers to growth include labour shortages, supply chain disruption, and rapidly rising inflation – all of which are complex issues being faced at a global level, which will require global solutions,” Maureen Gahan, food service specialist with Bord Bia, stated.

Of the people surveyed, more than three in four (76 per cent ) admitted that they missed the experience of eating out, and that the social aspect of dining out is what they most look forward to.

The majority of consumers (71 per cent ) said that they preferred dining out rather than eating a takeaway at home, yet at the same time, growth in takeaways driven by Covid-19 restrictions is likely to continue, particularly among those with younger families.

With a proliferation of new takeaway and delivery options and further exposure to ordering and delivery apps, takeaways are here to stay – 41 per cent of adults say they are likely to consume more takeaways in the future, compared to pre Covid-19.

Sustainability remains important, with almost half (45 per cent ) of respondents saying that in a post-pandemic world they will be more likely to choose options that are kinder to the environment, with packaging a key influence on this.

Similarly, “support for local” has been bolstered by the pandemic and half of all adults, especially those in the older demographic (57 per cent over the age of 50 ), are more likely to choose a foodservice option that supports local business and the community.


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