The covid-19 pandemic that changed the world in the spring of 2020 has been one of the biggest single shocks to school meals in recent decades. Due to the pandemic, educational institutions closed and school meals were not provided, or were provided as takeaways depending on the location. This brought challenges to the organization of school meals, as school meals are a matter of great pride for Finns and a certain familiar and safe element of everyday life for children and young people. As distance learning increases, student restaurants are also facing a new field when it comes to finding alternative solutions, such as take-away lunches and lunch packages, to the traditional student lunch eaten at the school.
In today’s society, the consumer has options. It can easily determine its own direction in terms of consumption with increasing supply. Companies need to anticipate trends in consumer behavior to stay active and attractive in a changing field. Needs, expectations and consumption trends are the most important cornerstones on which companies need to focus their expertise. Following product development trends, innovating new products and improving service quality are the company’s competitive advantages. In the catering industry, there is competition for specialty products, with which the company seeks to differentiate itself from competitors and attract a different customer base. The restaurant must offer a variety of products and lunch options to please the customer, as well as to satisfy his daily consumption behavior.
Megatrends are affecting consumers ’lifestyles faster than before. Phenomena such as changes in food supply and growing demand affect the development of the food industry. Values around the world will also become more and more influential in the future, along with ethics and the originality of the product. Future scenarios can also include population aging, declining birth rates, changing lifestyles to an ever-faster cycle, declining population and urbanization in small municipalities and localities, technological developments in food services, and digitalisation and corporate responsibility in operations.
The concentration of power in the hands of major international actors is driving both food production and consumption further away from decision-makers, which has a significant impact on food production in educational institutions. However, the ordering guidelines as well as the framework agreements and financing come to these activities directly from the state and municipal policy. If food flows are channeled to international actors and actors in the future, it will have a significant impact on school food flows and will be immediately reflected in the level and quality of food. In the light of the prospects that emerged from the expert interviews, food production on our planet, and through it also the availability of food, will be in an ever worse crisis as 2030 approaches.
29.11.2020 Vamia, Sami Syväoja & Hermanni Kauranen