FAST CASUAL | Staff Reporter, Australia

Shopping centres are amping up its food game

Serge Infanti, Managing Director, Foodco (operators of Jamaica Blue, Muffin Break & Dreamy Donuts); Luke Baylis, Chief Executive Officer, SumoSalad; Clovis Young, Chief Executive Officer & Founder of Mad Mex talks about the evolution of shopping centres.

"We are seeing a lot of the shopping centres look at food as a key point of differentiation," Baylis told the audience. "The food court has been outdated for years and the [shopping centres] want consumers to have a better experience and better interaction with the malls... The typical food offering has now changed."

A huge trend he noted the industry is noticing is international cuisine slowly becoming more mainstream, pointing to Mexican and Vietnamese cuisine; Adding that Middle Eastern might have the next big run. "I lot of international food has evolved and has become more mainstream and are becoming household names," he noted.

Infanti agreed that there is a change in the footfall in the malls that they have participated in. "The food courts we know are dinosaurs. [Shopping centres] want a greater range of grazing options throughout the shopping experience and this has put a lot of changes to how retailers respond."

He is predicting that kiosks won't be as prevalent in the future and that everyone in the industry will need to re-engineer to offer a more elevated experience. "This comes in not only in product but also aesthetics," he added.

"We are noticing that space, design and consumer experience is becoming a lot more competitive," Baylis shared. "If you look back in the last five years, a lot of designs now has evolved significantly," noting that these designs now look into consumers eyes and the journey they take in their experience of the space. "There's a lot more work and investment in the design enhancement of the space people occupy."

Meanwhile, another trend the panel is seeing is the focus on health.

"We see health being more mainstream," Baylis said. Health is starting to bleed across all areas of food, he noted, mentioning the likes of fast food KFC who are making an effort in putting out a healthy message.

Young pointed to McDonald's most recent efforts with the launch of its Create Your Taste campaign now being rolled out to all stores, where consumers can create their own gourmet burger. "Everyone has to elevate their game," he said, "fast casual, what it meant five years ago has a clear differentiation between fast food [but now the line has been blurred]."

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