MI Conference: ‘Veganism wasn’t on our radar six months ago’ says Selfridges store director

The continued rise of plant-based food and the consumer shift to veganism will go from trend to established concept this year, according to a panel of top experts who discussed the Evolution of Food at this year’s Master Innholder’s General Manager’s Conference.

The session, held on Monday of the two-day conference and chaired by consultant Amanda Afiya, saw speakers Robbie Bargh, founder of Gorgeous Group, David Jarvis, store director at Selfridges and Chantelle Nicholson, chef patron, Tredwells and group operations director, Marcus Wareing Restaurants take to the stage to uncover the latest food trends and what customers are looking for from restaurants in 2018.

Jarvis admitted that while Veganism ‘probably wasn’t on our radar six months ago’, it is now firmly on the menu as the brand works harder to establish what the guests of the future really want. He said that now it’s much easier for consumers to engage with trends given the choice they are exposed to and that the challenge for the store is ensuring it gets to know its customers better every day.

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Bargh said that veganism has rocketed in popularity between 16-25 year olds, with celebrity endorsements helping to drive the growth alongside the rise surrounding mindfulness and looking after your body.

The panel all agreed that plant-based food was here to stay, with a culture shift around eating better continuing to fuel the demand and not just in London either.

And while it is vital to keep an eye on the trends, the challenges for 2018 were cited as recruitment and retaining staff, as costs rise but investment into employee training and development remains crucial.

“Everything in hospitality nowadays can be copied; except your team and the experience they give,” said Jarvis.

January 15 and 16 saw hundreds of the hospitality industry’s leaders and innovators come together at the De Vere Connaught Rooms in London for the Master Innholder’s 25th General Manager Conference, to soak up advice, network and take away inspiration for their businesses and teams.

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