Blockchain: why does it matter to the restaurant industry?

If you have been following financial and IT news in the past few years, then you may have heard the terms blockchain, cryptocurrency, bitcoin mentioned quite often. While still a developing industry, it is important to know the significance of these terms and how their growth might impact your restaurant business in the following years.

In a presentation called “What in the World is Blockchain and Why Does It Matter to My Restaurant,” at the Restaurant Franchising & Innovation Summit, Ray Wiley, CEO and co-founder of Hot Head Burritos and Rapid Fired Pizza presented a clear distinction between blockchain, cryptocurrency, bitcoin.

Blockchain defined

According to Block Geeks, “A blockchain is, in the simplest of terms, a time-stamped series of immutable record of data that is managed by cluster of computers not owned by any single entity. Each of these blocks of data (i.e. block) are secured and bound to each other using cryptographic principles (i.e. chain).[1]

In simpler terms, according to Wiley, blockchain is similar to a simple checkbook ledger, except that, instead of relying on a person, the technology relies on a network of computers to verify transactions and record them. One of the main advantages is that blockchain transactions cannot be tempered with as all the computers in the network share the blockchain.

“The beauty of blockchain is you get non-disputable transactions,” Wiley said. Unlike traditional currencies, blockchain allows all the users in the network to control the data, as opposed to one centralized bank.

How can blockchain be used in the restaurant industry

The main use of blockchain are cryptocurrencies like bitcoin. Cryptocurrencies like bitcoin can save restaurants a significant amount of money in fees transaction, Wiley says. For instance, his restaurant pays approximately $30,000 in fees for Visa transactions. Switching to cryptocurrencies can help reduce these costs to only $5,000 or $10,000.

Despite the potential benefits, Wiley says that blockchain technology is still a developing concept. In fact, many industries are still uncertain about its proper use and the regulations surrounding it.

Moving forward

According to Wiley, the main takeaway is that every restaurant should “keep an eye” on blockchain and cryptocurrencies. These technologies have the potential to change the way business is done by streamlining processes and reducing fees. “Cryptocurrency is not something we should ignore,” Wiley said.



Generation Z and their impact on the food service industry

Generation Z (also known as Gen Z) refers to the demographic cohort after Gen Y (Millennials), with the average birth years ranging from the mid-1990s to mid-2000s. Gen Z grew up with the internet and social media right at their fingertips and their high level of digital literacy is reflected in the way they consume food and beverages. In fact, research from Mintel shows that Generation Z are “looking for a healthy lifestyle, enjoy eating international foods and are open to digital learning through online videos and other sources” [1].

Portability as a key benefit

While some GenZs are still too young to order their own food, their consumption patterns are starting to shift the way meals and snacks are being developed and promoted. Representing 25% of total food service traffic, GenZs perceive portability as being the key benefit when choosing a snack. [2] Aside from portability, added nutrients and health benefits are equally important. Adapting foods for quick on-the-go eating is important to consider, as 31% of Gen Z have no choice but to eat meals on the run [3].

Media habits

On average, Gen Zs use their smartphones more than any type of device, totaling to an average of 15.4 hours per week[4]. With the high levels of smartphone usage, the findings from NPD’s Delivering Digital Convenience report come as no surprise: Gen Zs are regular users of restaurant apps and delivery. In addition, 61% will look up restaurant menus online. While most GenZ are still young consumers, their purchasing power shouldn’t be overlooked. In fact, the end of 2018 saw food-service delivery orders increase to 552 million dollars.

Healthy eating

In addition to on-the-go meals, healthy eating should not be underestimated either. Just like Millennials, GenZs are also showing growing concerns about their health. One quarter of teens aged 15-17 say they worry about staying healthy, while 49 per cent agreeing that they think drinking soft drinks is unhealthy.

Overall, GenZs are starting to reshape the world of food and beverage. While most research to date has focused on Millennials buying patterns and interests, GenZs are quickly maturing into a distinct audience with new interests and eating habits. In the following years, it will be interesting to see how this tech-driven generation will give rise to new trends and how this will affect the food and beverage industry

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