Cleaning Needs in the Foodservice Industry are Rapidly Changing

The restaurant industry has been one of the hardest hit by the coronavirus pandemic, with government shutdowns leading to an estimated 8 million unemployed restaurant workers and thousands of temporary and permanent restaurant closures. Yelp estimates that approximately 16,000 restaurants have permanently closed due to COVID-19 lockdowns, and some project that the industry lost as much as $80 billion in the first two months of shelter-in-place orders.

As of this writing, there are 46 states that allow indoor, limited-capacity dining of 25%; restaurants that wish to remain solvent have been forced to adjust the ways they serve food, observe social distancing, and maintain strict food safety and cleaning practices that include frequent cleaning and sanitizing, offering more hand sanitizer to employees and customers, and regularly monitoring employees’ health and personal hygiene.  That’s in addition to placing tables six feet apart and ensuring that masks are worn by staff at all times (along with patrons when not seated).

As the lockdowns are gradually lifted, the National Restaurant Association predicts restaurants that emphasize personal safety and ramp up technology will attract consumers who want to dine out again. The association states, “Restaurants … [are] noting that while consumers are exhibiting a pent-up desire to return to restaurants, they’re also sending a message that they expect a different kind of experience—one that demonstrates commitment to safety, embraces technology, and practices social distancing and hospitality.”

As the foodservice industry struggles to operate in this new, challenging environment, their partners in B2B cleaning chemicals can help by offering consultation on the best products to use, keeping them stocked with products, offering value pricing, and providing guidance on disinfection and food safety.

With all the changes that are impacting the foodservice industry, Kline will kick off fresh research with restaurants and other foodservice end users to understand what changes they have implemented as a result of the pandemic and how long they foresee these changes being implemented.  The ninth edition of Kline’s Foodservice Cleaning Products USA study, to be published in 2021, will include updated research with hundreds of end users to understand how their usage and spending have changed in light of COVID-19 and includes back-of-house warewash chemicals, hard-surface cleaning products, hand care, and air and odor control products.

In the 2017 edition of the study, results confirmed the importance of food safety compliance in commercial kitchens and food preparation areas. Among end users of foodservice cleaning products, food safety compliance was the single-most-important trend impacting their business. Employee training and compliance in relation to cleaning and guest experience ranked a close second.

Seventy-six percent of end users have food safety management programs, and the vast majority (81%) manages them internally.  Meanwhile, 19% use companies like Ecolab, Diversey, or Steritech to manage their food safety management programs. Most foodservice end users are either “extremely” or “very” satisfied with warewash machine performance and warewash machine maintenance and service.

End user responses from 2017 compared to those from 2021 will reveal crucial trends and changes impacting the business.  Learn about these and other important trends in foodservice cleaning products from Kline’s study. For more information, contact us.

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