Hong Kong's Hospitality Leaders on the Top F&B Trends for 2023
by: The Beat Asia
December 01, 2022
Another year, another series of ups and downs, innovations and pushbacks, new changes and anticipated returns. As 2022 is coming to a close, The Beat Asia has invited 10 of Hong Kong's industry leaders in the field of hospitality and experiences to share their thoughts on what's to come in 2023, and to share what they are setting their sights on to achieve.
Sandip Gupta, Founder of S&S Hospitality
The uncertainties brought about by the pandemic have led us to embrace the new “normal.” It has encouraged focusing on healthier eating habits. Vegetarianism, veganism, and plant-based food are trending, and are likely to keep soaring.
Sustainability and responsible sourcing are aspects that are on consumers' minds. Hence, they would prefer concentrated efforts from business houses toward sourcing products responsibly and being more eco-conscious.
The online scene, takeaways, and deliveries have all grown during the pandemic and will continue to flourish. You may also see a lot more ghost/cloud kitchens in operations.
As we learn, adapt, and embrace the changing times, I believe a constant in all this is the importance of value for money. Redefining value throughout the food and beverage industry will be one of the top trendsetters in the face of the increased cost of living and economic volatility. There should be a sharp surge of businesses that combine economic benefits with apparent health and sustainable goals.
While all these are important, there is room for boutique concepts, emphasizing unique flavours and approachable dining experiences. Overall, there are undoubtedly many positives to look forward to in 2023!
Laura Offe, Co-Founder and Managing Director at Meraki Hospitality Group
At Meraki Hospitality, we’re excited for 2023! Covid has taught us the need to review our diets and how the industry develops its dishes and menus. Nutritious eating will be even more prevalent and in demand in 2023. Just as we’ve had to re-evaluate our sourcing during the pandemic, we’ll see the need to look at recipe development being even more zero-waste-centred, and we think that’s a great thing!
With restrictions being lifted, we believe there will be great opportunities to bring back some fun to the city. We’re all craving the opportunity to meet with friends and colleagues, and to put the past three years behind us. Large-scale events and experiential dining will be even more prevalent. With the Sevens [having] just concluded, we can see that the city is looking for more opportunities to have fun. We can’t wait to welcome visiting chefs that will bring some new zing to the city!
Chris Woodyard and Bronwyn Cheung, Founders of Woolly Pig Hong Kong
The pandemic changed the focus on F&B for evermore, not only from the consequences on the food chain delivery, and the effects of so much talent leaving the industry, customers have become more aware of their choices, with our carbon footprint very much on the menu for 2023.
Sustainability and health will be a crucial focus, and less plastics are finally and thankfully becoming a purchasing focus for guests. Reducing our carbon footprint will be essential and an excellent opportunity for young entrepreneurs to create local products using food from the local ecosystem. There are significant advances in growing micro-herbs and vegetables in an urban environment, but more support must be given to push these ideas forward.
With some luck, we might be able to create more awareness of the origins of food and appreciation for quality—through small local farms, responsible agriculture, line-caught fishing, or not serving endangered seafood, for instance. Health will be a greater focus, not only at health food venues but on menus across the industry. People are more interested in what they put into their bodies, and real food will be on the menu. Food made fresh in-house from natural products and less lab-grown artificial substitutes.
Woolly Pig Hong Kong already has most of these beliefs, and we don’t buy frozen. Our beef and steak cuts are from smaller farms with ethical breeding practices. Our seafood is not on the endangered list; consumers also need to partake in this practice by choosing restaurants that participate in these philosophies.
Hiring talent has become so challenging that customers have become more open to online platforms. Expect to see more AI services and self-ordering platforms that help to allow the floor team more time to focus on guest interactions and less time on the transactional part of the dining experience. Ideally, a new appreciation for the talent of F&B, and career opportunities may be on the menu.
Malcom Williamson, Founder of Oolaa Group
We’re confident that we’re heading into an exciting year for F&B. At Oolaa we always prioritise great food, service and atmosphere – that won’t change any time soon, but it’s equally important to stay innovative. A few trends we foresee include, firstly, striking the balance between novelty and comfort. Think themed menus, weeknight specials, limited promotions – we always like to give customers something new to look forward to. On top of that, there is the trend of adapting to dietary requirements. From vegan and organic choices to specific preparations, customers will look for restaurants that can cater to their tastes.
Table for one? This might be surprising to hear, but solo dining is on the rise, and there are upsides. For one, you won’t have to share your banoffee pie. And on the flip side, with group dining back, it seems everyone's catching up on missed celebrations. Whether you book out a venue or get catering, one thing is certain – we're done postponing festivities.
Mael Vastine, Director of Operations of Ovolo Hotels HK
The magnitude of the climate challenge we're facing is undeniable. We have continuously amplified our ESG practices as a business, including committing all Ovolo Hotels to plant-based dining globally. In 2023 and beyond, we expect other businesses to follow suit, and move away from meat-centric concepts like chophouses to embrace vegetarian dining.
Health, wellness and nutrition are at the forefront of consumers' minds, and good health begins in the gut. The pandemic has shown us how important our well-being is, so whilst alternative proteins have captured the world's attention when they first landed on the food scene, people are starting to pay attention to the levels of processing their food undergoes. That's why Ovolo Hotels celebrate plants and vegetables in their natural form.
One of our most popular dishes at VEDA for the last four years has been a roasted cauliflower, which shows that we don't need to mess around with ingredients too much. Looking ahead, consumers will pivot away from artificial meat products and embrace the nutritious and vibrant plethora of ingredients the earth can deliver without interference.
Bart Szyniec, Managing Director and Co-Founder Deadly Rabbits Concepts
Although we’re manifesting 2023 to be our year as we know that it will be the Year of the Rabbits, the market will still be tough on us and success will be determined by how quickly the industry gets back on track. We’re not expecting a full recovery in Hong Kong this year with the local and global pressures, 2022 was the hardest year since SARS; we’re looking at Hong Kongers travelling more as we move forward, so does the return of ex-pats in which we hope will drive business to strengthen the second quarter of 2023.
Fine dining will continue to thrive, but the upper level of casual dining will be the most difficult market. Home cooking became the norm during the pandemic, but it's inconvenient in such a fast-paced city, plus the cost of supermarket goods is on the rise. Casual eateries like Ask for Alonzo will benefit as people are seeking deals more than ever before in order to maintain their lifestyle while spending less.
Craft beer is also gaining popularity among the younger locals, as evidenced by how they seek out the beverages. Cocktail bars will continue to do well, but wine and beers will fare better when paired with dinner. French wines, on the other hand, may struggle with the younger demographic.
Manpower will continue to be a challenge, but we hope to see the experienced staff who left during the pandemic return. Following the pandemic's rapid growth, we intend to consolidate existing businesses and expand later in the year, depending on market conditions.
Arron Rhodes, CEO of Showmen Group
The eating out market is set to be a challenging landscape to navigate in 2023 thanks to the cost of living crisis, ongoing supply issues and labour shortages. But the demand for enticing menus and offers still remains strong. Whether it’s through the love of food, a desire to socialise or even just convenience, eating out is an integral part of many of our lives.
Healthy eating is also one to consider. With years of Covid, everyone seems to want to get that little more in shape to stay strong and keep fighting off any viruses.
Hong Kong is always resilient and will come back to 2023 with an array of new concepts and restaurants, from celebrity chefs to casual pop ups there will be something for everyone. Watch out for takeaway venues and smaller eateries, they will be leading the way for 2023 with a strong focus on the local community and family vibes.
Alexandra Leung, Co-Founder of Monogic
In today’s fast-paced world, trends are growing and changing every day. When it comes to the food & beverage industry, things are always evolving, so it’s important to stay up-to-date on the latest trends to keep your restaurant relevant in modern times.
First is hospitality intelligence systems. As restaurants and other food-centric businesses look for more efficient ways to provide services to the end user, technology will become key to personal dining experiences. My partner Kieran and I are working on a restaurant and hospitality intelligence system, dining.io which will produce real-time market analysis and AI service suggestions, to help restaurant owners make better business decisions and service teams to increase customer retention.
Next are immersive dining experiences. With Covid becoming less of a barrier to dining, more customers will choose to dine in rather than order takeout. Paying attention to the dining experience from start to finish will be imperative to keeping up with competition. ”Dinnertainment” such as themed dinners, theatrical experiences, interactive experiences with chefs and focus on food presentations will be enhanced more than ever.
Heritage fusion or third culture cooking will also be in focus. To provide for a wider range of tastes, most Hong Kong food and beverage establishments will lean towards fusion-based menus sharing more cross- cultural influences. Combining different cultural food options is a great way to keep a menu exciting and leave guests with a sense of wonder and a more expanded palate after.
Lastly, going green is another important theme. Whether the effort is shown through better recycling and waste reduction or a more plant-powered menu, sustainability is top of mind for many industry professionals. As consumers become more aware of their ecological footprint, business practices are trending towards more viable long-term practices that are more earth-friendly
James Gannaban, Director of Marketing and Communications of Pirata Group
Guests are looking for more than just the basics of good food, good service and good value for money, we've seen guests gravitate toward restaurants that convey a sense of wellbeing. Of the 14 restaurants we opened in the last two years, the most popular are the ones with access to open spaces - be it pizza and Aperol spritz on a sidewalk, to freshly baked pastries along the seaside, to a full-on classical Italian garden surrounded by lemon trees. It’s all about simple, accessible pleasures, open spaces that provide a quick escape and a hit of holiday vibes.
Alex Happy Gilmour, Operations Director for Quality Goods, Shady Acres, Honky Tonks
With light coming at the end of the long stagnant travel tunnel for Hong Kong, we are sure to see growth and influences from many of our neighbouring countries. Bars and restaurants being able to engage with likeminded talent from near and far will definitely enable the offerings in Hong Kong to open and expand again.
Many venues have had to not only excel at their own product but adapt to totally new offerings to stay relevant, or at the very least stay open to opportunity of every possible revenue stream. It will be equally wonderful to watch the venues that return to their core offering to come back and grow alongside those that maintain their adapted ingenuity.
Read the Series:
Hong Kong's Hospitality Leaders on the Top F&B Trends for 2023
Hong Kong's Culinary Leaders on the Top Gastronomy Trends for 2023
Hong Kong's Beverage Leaders on the Top Drinks Trends for 2023
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