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What We Learned at this Year’s FARE Conference

Every year, FARE (Foodservice and Restaurant Expo) provides executives from across a multitude of channels—from quick-service to fast-casual restaurants, to convenience stores and hospital cafes—with key learnings and insights from the ever-changing world of foodservice.

This year, the theme of the event was Disruption. Remember Restaurant Business Magazine’s 2014 issue The Disruptors: The 10 People, Innovations and Forces that will Change your Business Forever? Hispanics were number four on the list. So, it wasn’t surprising to hear more about the influence that multicultural consumers have in the industry today.

Here’s some of what was discussed:

Winning at snacking: According to Abbie Westra, Director of Retail Content Group at Winsight Media, “snacking is no longer just about indulgence.” If you want to win at snacking you must incorporate better-for-you, customization and ethnic options.

Diversity & Generation Z:  The need for increasing ethnic options points to the fact that diversity is on the rise. In fact, Generation Z is the most diverse generation in American history, with 47% coming from an ethnic minority group. To quote Jimena Harder, Senior Marketing Manager for Sysco, Hispanic segment, “the changing U.S. consumer suggests that restaurants should think about meeting the needs, demands and expectations of these new customers.”

The power of authenticity: “Sixty-two percent of restaurant operators see a strong demand for authenticity from consumers,” said Diego Rondon, Senior Director of Multicultural for Sysco. But what creates an authentic experience? Food, beverage and atmosphere are key. For Hispanics, an authentic atmosphere could be about the in-language materials and service they experience— whether through bilingual staff members or Spanish-language menu options.

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