The National Restaurant Association Show is a conference that brings professionals from the foodservice industry to present new ideas and showcase product innovations. 

In its first show since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, the 2022 show in Chicago showcased post-pandemic solutions for restaurants. More than 1,800 exhibitors and 500 new companies filled three exhibit halls and 600,000 square feet of space at McCormick Place from May 21-24, 2022. 

The industry was clearly back in its spirit at the leading food-service event. Here’s a quick look at the major trends we spotted at the show this year:

1. Plant-based food is on the rise

This year’s National Restaurant Association Show signaled that the plant-based eating trend would rapidly expand for years to come. The conference had sizeable plant-based eating display areas, featuring multiple companies in nearly every category of plant-based eating, including meat alternatives, non-dairy cheeses, ice creams, snacks, and baked goods.

2. Building an efficient back of the house

Inventory management has been one of the most underrated pieces for running a restaurant.  Often, inventory is not as gratifying as perfecting a dish in a dine-in. Still, it is critical in your restaurant operations and plays a pivotal role in growing your restaurant.  A modern-day cloud POS technology has evolved where the interconnection of POS with other technologies used in restaurants like online ordering platforms, guest-facing technology, and kitchen display systems (KDS) can record stock counts, share real-time analytics, and auto-update item prices.  The technology Pavillion was buzzing with tech vendors showcasing their solutions.  Platforms like Posist remain a hot solution as brands seek to drive high efficiency across the Front and Back of the house. 

Here’s a glimpse of Posist’s presence at the event:

3. Greater productivity through unified systems & integrations

As diners demand a more customized experience and restaurant owners rely on data to make informed business decisions, a unified restaurant platform is at the heart of the action. Real-time transactions and analytics come into play. Integrations play a crucial role in building a unified and seamless performance. Restaurants can gain many important functionalities from third-party integrations, such as employee management, payments, delivery, accounting, and more. 

4. Restaurants are creating new strategies to handle inflation 

The rise of food costs, inflation, and the challenges that it brings to the restaurant industry were key themes this year.  Not only are restaurants struggling with food purchases, but inflation has also affected customers’ spending.

To limit the impact of inflation—without passing all of the cost directly to consumers—restaurants have had to get creative. Some of the solutions offered focused on menu optimization, streamlining for decreased operating costs, exploring delivery-only business models like Ghost Kitchens, and providing an enhanced consumer experience through loyalty programs.

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